Similarly to the first 3 quarters of Super Bowl LI, one team dominated throughout last night’s game. The Patriots were able to take care of business, easily defeating the Atlanta Falcons 23-7.
Here are a few takeaways from last night’s game
1. The Patriots’ defense was aided by several unsung heroes
Kyle Van Noy, and Johnson Bademosi may not be household names, but the two of them were vital in allowing the Patriots to stop Atlanta’s high flying offense. Van Noy was acquired from Detroit last season, and has steadily improved since then. He was the defensive signal caller when Dont’a Hightower was sidelined earlier this year, and has shown his grit throughout this season. Last night, he had several key tackles, including a drive ending tackle on Taylor Gabriel at the one yard line. Bademosi was a special teams standout who was thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries sustained by Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe, and had the game of his life, covering Julio Jones and other Falcon receivers.
2. Dion Lewis and the Patriot rushing attack are back!
The Patriots had their best rushing game of the year, racking up 162 yards on the ground. The Patriots continued their practice of constantly rotating their running backs, with Lewis, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, and James White all receiving touches. Lewis led the way with 13 carries for 76 yards. It is heartening to see Lewis return to his pre-injury form of 2015, when he shredded opponents. The Patriots should look to carry this momentum forward into their next game against the Los Angeles Chargers, as a successful rushing attack will make it easier for TB12 to dissect opposing defenses.
3. TB12 was magnificant
Brady returned to form after a shaky performance against the New York Jets, going 21/29 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Brady constantly dissected the Falcon’s overmatched defense, and he was able to make Atlanta regret going for it on fourth down in the waning moments of the first half, when he drove the Patriots down the field to make the score 17-0. Brady’s sole mistake of the game was an interception thrown to Robert Alford, which was wiped out due to a roughing the passer penalty.
4. The Patriots’ red zone efficiency can’t be overlooked
Although the Patriots played an incredible game in all three phases, one worrying aspect is their lack of success in the red zone. The Patriots got into the red zone 6 times, but only scored 2 touchdowns. The Pats’ offense was easily able to drive down the field, but constantly struggled to finish off their drives. They were lucky that the defense was able to dominate Atlanta’s offense, as merely scoring field goals was enough to close out the game.
BONUS: How beautiful were those Color Rush uniforms?