Week One brought a promising start to the Patriots regular season. New England controlled the game and beat Houston 27-20. Almost every player on the field for the Patriots stepped up in their own way to ensure a win.
Here are three of the standouts, and three of not-so-standouts from Sunday’s contest, as we head toward this week’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, and Keionta Davis
New England’s defensive line was particularly powerful, and that’s because of these guys. Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, and Keionta Davis tore the Texans quarterback apart, pressuring him until he cracked. Flowers and Wise accounted for 1.5 sacks each (Flowers for a loss of 10.5 yards and Wise for a loss of 7.5 yards). These two players also earned 3 quarterback hits apiece. Keionta Davis only had one quarterback hit, but he has the potential to make a name for himself this year. Under the guidance of veterans such as Flowers, he can cement his role in the Patriots defensive line. What made the defensive line so noticeable was their ability to prevent scoring. On back to back drives for the Texans, the line was able to hold Houston from scoring critical touchdowns and instead hold them to field goals. Had the Texans been able to penetrate, New England wouldn’t have won the game.
Who kick-started the momentum behind the Patriots win? Of course, it was Rob Gronkowski. Without a doubt, he brings an energy to the field that no one (not even Brady) can replace. Gronkowski opened the game with a long catch on third down for New England’s first touchdown of the regular season. Not only was the ball thrown over his head, but he was also sandwiched in between two defenders (one of which was already hanging onto his jersey). Gronk’s touchdown marked the 76th scoring pass between him and Brady. With that explosive start to the game followed a series of incredible plays by other players. Gronkowski finished the game with 7 receptions for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. It’s also worth mentioning that this was the tight end’s 31st 100-yard game, no big deal.
Cordarrelle Patterson has the potential to be the running back version of Gronkowski. He is noticeably more aggressive than his opponents and can often be seen plowing down whoever stood between him and the first down marker. The running back is also a well-rounded player. Patterson wrapped up with 3 runs for 13 yards and 1 reception for 6 yards. Although he didn’t have a statistically outstanding game, he will most certainly be trending upwards in the coming weeks as he gets more play time and adjusts to being a Patriot. With Lewis gone, someone has to fill the gap he left and there are more than enough players willing to do so. The only question is, who will it be?
In one of my articles from last season, I mentioned how Brady really can’t be compared to other quarterbacks in the league. He is truly in a league of his own; he’s held to higher standards than everyone else. That being said, Brady didn’t have a bad game, or at the very least he had a better one than Houston’s Deshaun Watson. However, he did make a few mistakes that he shouldn’t have. The quarterback completed 26 of 39 passes for 227 yards…and 1 interception. Brady threw off target a few times, but his biggest mistake was an interception during the first game of the season. His pass was tipped by a defensive lineman and into the waiting hands of Tyrann Mathieu. Even though the rest of his performance was stellar, a player with 19 years of experience should know better.
One mistake is all it takes to lose a game. Brady’s mistake could have cost them, much like Riley McCarron’s could have. The punt returner let the football bounce off of his face mask on a return at the end of the fourth quarter. Houston recovered the ball on the 16-yard line and scored minutes later. One mistake cut New England’s lead to a single touchdown game. The Patriots can’t afford mishaps such as this. As a result, McCarron was cut from the 53 man roster and moved down to the practice squad.
Hill had an impressive game. The running back had 4 carries for 25 yards and 1 reception for 6 yards. Hill was prepared to step up. However, an unfortunate run-in prevented his big moment. Late in the third quarter, he attempted to make a tackle just as James Develin dove and hit Hill’s leg. He was diagnosed with an ACL injury, thus ending his short-lived season. Although he’s trending down from injury, his spirit remains high as he made a couple social media posts regarding the incident.
Following an ambitious start to the season, more competition is on the way as New England prepares to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. While there were ups and downs throughout the game, one consistency remains: if the Patriots play with the energy seen in this game, they will win.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen