New England returned from a long week and breezed by Minnesota with a 24-10 win. Many of the problems facing the team were resolved as they dominated the Vikings. With this victory brought many outstanding plays, and a handful of outstanding players.
This name has been a silent bystander throughout most of the Patriots regular season. James Develin finished the game with 4 carries for 5 yards, 1 reception for 9 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He scored the first and last touchdowns of the game, which also happened to be the first two touchdowns of his career! The fullback became a much needed force to propel his team to victory, and proved that every yard counts.
Josh Gordon, much like James Develin, was able to create an impact from the few targets he was given. Gordon completed 3 of 3 receptions for 58 yards (with a long of two 24 yard plays) and 1 touchdown. The wide receiver made two big plays that added fuel to New England’s offensive push. The first came during a stall in their momentum, when the Patriots hadn’t scored in almost two full quarters. The second play happened to be his touchdown, which pushed New England ahead 17-10 in the third quarter. Gordon is a vital part of the offense that helped them coast by Minnesota.
The secondary unit was greatly improved by the presence of J.C. Jackson. Without his crucial pass breakups, this game would have played out very differently. The cornerback was faced with matchups against players such as Adam Thielen and Aldrick Robinson. Although he was targeted nine separate times during the game, he only gave up 31 yards on five catches. One of Jackson’s most impressive plays was a key pass breakup in the end zone. Coach Belichick sees the improvement in the cornerback’s performance, and the third rotation cornerback is sure to see more playing time in the future.
Tom Brady finally achieved his 1000 career rushing yards. As amazing as this game was for his legs, it was a bad game for his arm. The quarterback could be found overthrowing the ball, under-throwing the ball, and throwing the ball too far in front of or behind his target. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 311 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Had it not been for Brady’s incredibly athletic companions, he would have completed far fewer passes and thrown far more interceptions than stated.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman appeared frustrated in Sunday’s game. Edelman only completed 3 of 8 targets for 25 yards and ran twice for a total of 35 yards. Brady’s passes to the receiver were consistently thrown behind him, in a position where not even the most agile receiver could have completed the catch. One or two flukes like these are understandable in a game, but when every cross pass is off target, feelings start to shift. Edelman may begin to dislike being targeted if this continues, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.
One of New England’s key sources of momentum was not to be found during their showing against the Vikings. Rob Gronkowski’s play was slow and nerve wracking. At times he appeared hurt, yet continued to block as if everything were okay. The tight end did have a decent game for the most part. He blocked well and completed 3 receptions for 26 yards. However, one bad holding call took away a touchdown run by Edelman. Agility and quickness are two qualities that Gronkowski can’t lose if he hopes to stay healthy and useful for the remainder of the season.
This Sunday puts the Patriots against the Dolphins for the second time this season. New England has to focus on improving their game, regardless of the competition. While their last meeting with Miami went easily, anything can change if the right team brings enough energy.