After another sloppy first half, the New England Patriots pulled away after halftime to beat the New York Giants 35-14 on Thursday Night Football. Here are five quick takes from the game:
1. Toss out the gameplan
When the Patriots’ offense first took the field, it was pretty clear that the team wanted to keep rolling out the heavy personnel that worked so well against Washington. The opening drive consisted exclusively of two-back sets, mostly including fullback Jakob Johnson, and there were four plays featuring both tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse as well.
But then as the game went on, LaCosse and Johnson both came out of the game with injuries, forcing the Patriots to abandon those plans and exclusively use 11 personnel (three WR, one RB, one TE) the rest of the way.
That wouldn’t have been a big deal, but then Josh Gordon went down with a scary looking knee injury while trying to stop a fumble return touchdown. That forced the Patriots into a situation where they were consistently running out Julian Edelman, Jakoki Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Izzo and a revolving door of running backs each play. Not ideal.
2. Injuries pile up
Speaking of injuries, those three weren’t the only ones. Safety Patrick Chung also left the game with a chest injury, cornerback J.C. Jackson with a knee injury and linebacker Dont’a Hightower with a shoulder injury. Johnson (shoulder), Gordon (knee) and LaCosse (undisclosed) all left as well, and safety Devin McCourty briefly received treatment before coming back into the game.
3. Turnover time
New England is continuing to force turnovers at a ridiculous rate, and Thursday the defense came through for four more. Stephon Gilmore got things started when he tipped a pass intended for Golden Tate up and into the waiting arms of John Simon for an interception.
Duron Harmon and Gilmore each had interceptions shortly after, and then in the fourth quarter Jamie Collins blew up Jon Hillman to force a fumble, which was scooped up by Kyle Van Noy and returned for a 22-yard touchdown that effectively put the game away.
With those four turnovers, New England has now forced 16 turnovers, including 14 interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and that doesn’t even include Brandon Bolden’s blocked punt that set up Chase Winovich’s 6-yard special teams touchdown.
4. Edelman delivers again
Despite the limited weapons around him, Julian Edelman once again stepped up for a huge game. The receiver made nine catches for 113 yards, including a beautiful 36-yard catch in the fourth quarter that set up Tom Brady’s second quarterback sneak touchdown of the evening. Edelman is now up to 38 catches for 449 yards through six games on the season, and if he continues at his current pace he would finish with 101 catches for 1,197 yards, numbers that would approach or exceed his career highs.
5. Shutting it down
What’s the secret to the Patriots defense’s success? Besides the sacks, turnovers and other flashy plays, the Patriots are really good at cutting short opposing drives. New England held New York’s offense to just 2 for 10 on third down conversions, marking the sixth consecutive game to start the season that the Patriots limited the opposition to three or fewer conversions and under a 25% success rate. Overall, New England has held opponents to 10 for 73 (13%) on the season.
Mac Cerullo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.