Pats Steamroll Falcons in SB LI Rematch
With all the talk about a rematch of Super Bowl LI, when the New England Patriots welcomed the Atlanta Falcons to town Sunday night, the game ended up turning into somewhat of a continuation of the Patriots' historic comeback as the Pats steamrolled Atlanta 23-7 at Gillette Stadium.
Defense Is Back- The biggest takeaway from this game has got to be that the Patriots' defense looked solid from start to finish. Not only did they hold the talented, but struggling Falcons offense to just seven points, but all night long they seemed to control what was going to happen and made a number of big plays throughout the game. Atlanta's only score of the game came in garbage time and the Pats held the Falcons to 343 total yards and just 2-9 on third downs, over the course of the game. New England also held Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 233 yards passing, which marks the first time this season they have held an opposing QB under 300 yards. Another impressive stat for the New England defense to hang its hat on for the night is the fact that they held Atlanta to 1-4 in their red zone opportunities in the game. Now, the Falcons offense is clearly not right, right now, but the Patriots really got themselves back on track, from a defensive perspective, Sunday.
Total Ownership- Ever since the Falcons had a 28-3 lead on the Patriots, late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, the Pats have had total ownership of Atlanta. After outscoring the Falcons 31-0 throughout the remainder of the Super Bowl, the Pats ran that total up to 54-0 until there was about just over five minutes left in Sunday's game. Atlanta might as well start referring to the Pats as their daddy from now on.
Another Solid Game- It wasn't anything incredibly special, but through the fog Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put together another solid night in the win. Brady completed 21 of the 29 passes he threw to seven different receivers for 249 yards. He also connected on two touchdown passes on the night.
Three Top Dogs- While Brady linked up with seven different targets throughout the game, he hit three guys, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski, at least three times for at least 50 yards apiece. Brady completed four of the six pass attempts fired Hogan's way for a game-high 71 yards. He added four receptions to Cooks for another 65 yards and connected with Gronkowski three times for 51 yards. In total, he went 11-18 for 187 yards and a score, which went on a dump pass to Cooks.
Taking Over- While the Pats have a solid 4-man running back rotation and had all options available tonight, it was more than evident that the star of the show Sunday was speedy dual threat back Dion Lewis. On 13 carries, Lewis rushed for 76 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry, with a long run of 25 yards. He also caught one ball for six yards, to round his night out with 14 total touches for 82 yards. In the merry-go-round that is the New England backfield all four options played well in the win, but Lewis was the straw that stirred the drink.
Converting On Third Down- Something the Patriot offense had struggled with the past couple of weeks was converting on third downs and keeping drives alive. The Pats had no such problems, Sunday, as they converted on seven of their 13 third down opportunities. That allowed them to continue multiple drives, score points and keep the Atlanta defense on the field and their offense on the sideline.
Special Teams Difference- Another big difference in the game was the special teams performances from each team. The Pats had a perfect night kicking the ball, as Stephen Gostkowski tallied 11 points on the night, going 3-3 on field goals and nailing both oh his point after touchdown attempts. On the flip side Atlanta and their kicker Matt Bryant did not have a good night. Bryant had his first field goal attempt blocked, after Pats end Cassius Marsh slipped through two Falcons blockers with a nifty swim move, then yanked his second attempt to much to the left, sending it hard off the left upright. Those early misses helped deflate Atlanta's hopes and keep the Pat in control.
All in all, this game was the best overall game for the Pats so far this season. it saw them excel in all three phases of the game for the first time and showed some of the juggernaut team many had expected to see from them, before the season started. While they still have room to grow, New England is 5-2 and in complete control moving forward, with positive momentum off of their best overall game this year.