Games between the New England Patriots and New York Giants are never easy. However, they sure are interesting.
Bolstered by another strong showing from their defense and special teams units, the defending Super Bowl Champions improved to a record of 6-0 with a 35-14 victory over the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.
Despite some early struggles on offense, Tom Brady scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, He finished 31 of 41 for 334 yards. Julian Edelman had his second straight 100-yard receiving game, catching nine passes for 113 yards. Sony Michel carried the ball 22 times for 86 yards.
While the offense turned some sputters into a serviceable effort, the New England defense continued to show their prowess. They forced four turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown. The Patriots special teams even returned a blocked punt for a quick six-points. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was a true standout in this contest, earning five passes defended, three tackles and one interception
On their third possession, Gilmore deflected a pass by Giants quarterback Daniel Jones that was intercepted by John Simon. The Patriots offense, however, gave the ball right back on the first play after the changeover. Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins intercepted Brady’s pass, which was intended for Edelman.
The two teams remained locked in a scoreless game until New England broke the stalemate late in the first quarter. Giants’ punter Riley Dixon’s punt from the 6-yard line was blocked by Brandon Bolden. Rookie defensive end Chase Winovich caught the loose ball and ran it in for the touchdown, giving New England a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots would extend their lead to 14-0 on their sixth touch of the night. Once again, Brandon Bolden was a key compliment, capping a five-play, 20-yard drive with his 1-yard run for the score.
However, history had it way of manifesting itself on this cold, damp and windy night in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots have typically struggled in their meetings with New York. This continued when the Giants found the endzone on their ensuing possession. On this play, Jones connected on a deep pass to Golden Tate, who sprinted for a 64-yard touchdown. It was the first passing TD given up by the Patriots this season.
Merely three plays into their next drive, Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter sacked Brady, causing him to fumble the ball. Markus Golden recovered the ball and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. Within 87 seconds of play, the Giants had tied the game at 14.
The fumble return for a touchdown seemed to be the catalyst for the Patriots turnaround. Just before the half, Brady sneaked a 1-yard touchdown run that capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive. At this point, the Patriots led 21-14.
Despite struggling to move the ball for most of the game, New York still had the ball trailing 21-14 with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. It was at this point that the Patriots defense would strike the fatal blow to the Giants hopes of tying this game. Jones completed a pass to running back Jon HIlliman. However, the Giants running back was hit in the backfield by Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, forcing a fumble. Kyle Van Noy recovered and ran 22 yards, stretching the ball to the pylon for the touchdown. This put the Patriots ahead by a score of 28-14.
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Although they would close the game with Brady’s second goal-line rush of the night (to make it 35-14), both teams had issues executing and protecting the football. At times, Jones seemed confused by the Patriots’ coverages. This led to his several turnovers. Conversely, the same could be said for Brady. In addition to his fumble that was returned for a touchdown, Brady’s interception by Jenkins was caused by an uncharacteristic throw behind his intended target, Julian Edelman.
Still, the Patriots remain unbeaten this far in 2019. They move to 6-0 for the first time since 2015.
The Giants were missing three of their top playmakers:
- Running back Saquon Barkley sat a third straight game because of a sprained right ankle, tight end and leading receiver
- Evan Engram was inactive with a knee injury and receiver Sterling Shepard remained in concussion protocol.
- Running back Wayne Gallman also sat with a concussion.
The Patriots played without some key components on offense, as well:
- Rex Burkhead missed his second straight game with a foot injury.
- Receiver Phillip Dorsett was inactive, also with a hamstring injury
In the second quarter, Patriots receiver Josh Gordon injured his left knee on the play while trying to tackle Markus Golden. Gordon got caught under a tangle of players and got his left leg pinned underneath him. He needed assistance as he limped off the field. He did not return to the game. However, he was seen riding a stationary bike, as well as being attended to by the training staff.
Patriots: S Patrick Chung left in the first quarter with a chest injury
TE Matt LaCosse exited in the first quarter with a knee injury.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson left with a knee injury.
FB Jakob Johnson and LB Dont’a Hightower both left with shoulder injuries.
The Patriots will visit East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Jets on October 21 at MetLife Stadium.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC