Patriots survive Giants
The New England Patriots had without a doubt their most difficult, exciting, and satisfying victory of the season on Sunday, as they took down their kryptonite, the New York Giants by a score of 27-26.
It was arguably the most entertaining game of the entire NFL season thus far, and it had Patriots fans on the edge of their seats and pulling their hair out all night long.
The Patriots came out firing as the Giants differed the coin toss and elected to give Tom Brady the ball first. They answered with a picture perfect 80-yard, eight-minute drive that capped off with a play action one-yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler. Momentum was on the side of the Patriots early on. However, the Giants quick strike offense lived up to its billing as they only needed two plays to score. Giants superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. beat Malcolm Butler on a go-route and then made Devin McCourty miss on a tackle and it was over from there, 87 yards to the end zone. The longest play ever allowed by a Bill Belichick defense.
The Patriots offense then slowed down as they gave the Giants the ball right back after going three-and-out. The Patriots did however force a three-and-out on the Giants following possession, as New York dropped some wide open passes. One of the most influential plays came at the end of the first quarter when Julian Edelman caught a pass toward the sideline. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie rolled up on his foot, and Edelman immediately grabbed for it. He will have surgery Mondayto repair a broken bone in his foot. The hope is that he will return this season. The Patriots capped the drive off with a field goal taking the 10-7 lead.
On the following Giants series, Eli Maning was taking the ball down the field once again carving up the Patriots secondary. The Giants had the ball at the Patriots 16, with the chance to take the lead mid way through the second quarter. However, continuing his great season Chandler Jones got off the edge and stripped sacked Eli Manning, and the Patriots recovered. It was a huge play that stopped a potential Giants score. The Patriots offense could not answer as a offensive pass interference penalty on Rob Gronkowski backed them up to the point where they couldn’t afford to take any chances.
The Giants answered back with a field goal and a stop on defense. Seeing how the Giants differed at the start of the game, they were now in position to do what the Patriots do so often and that is the, “double-score” at the end of the first half and at the start of the second. At the end of the first half, Eli took the Giants down the field highlighted by the first play of the drive when he found Reuben Randle down the sideline for a 31-yard gain over Justin Coleman. Soon there after Eli found Dwayne Harris in the end zone, and Justin Coleman was benched.
It was the largest halftime deficit of the season for the Patriots down 17-10, and they desperately needed a stop coming out of the break. The Patriots had the Giants stopped on third and seven when Malcolm Butler got in the way of an Eli Manning pass intended for Odell Beckham. Although, a flag was thrown in what was an atrocious pass interference call on Butler who never even touched the receiver. That call cost the Patriots three points. The 10 point Giants lead was the Patriots largest deficit of the season thus far.
Towards the end of the third quarter the Patriots were down by 10 points, and it seemed as though the Patriots were going to be pinned back deep in their own territory. Nevertheless, the Patriots did what elite teams do and that is make plays on special teams. Give credit to Danny Amendola for scooting past defenders and returning the ball 82 yards only to be knocked down by his own teammate Duron Harmon near the Giants 10. However, it was an 11 man effort. Core special team’s guys such as Eric Martin and Nate Ebner made crushing blocks to create space for Amendola. Three plays later LeGarrette Blount leaped his way into the end zone to narrow the score.
After a tough Josh Brown 53-yard field goal the Giants were up by six late in the third quarter. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Tom Brady was strip sacked after being to eager to make a play down field. After that it would have been easy for the Patriots defense to give in and let momentum take over on the Giants side. Nevertheless, the man with the knack for big plays in Rob Ninkovich sacked Manning for a loss of 13 yards, forcing the Giants to punt instead of attempting three points and making the game two scores.
Three plays into the Patriots drive, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski perfectly down the seam and he continued to shake off two defenders, and take it 76 yards to pay dirt. Patriots took the one point (24-23) lead with 11-minutes remaining. The Patriots defense came up big once again as Malcolm Butler continued to own Odell Beckham, deflecting two passes on the drive including one on third down. Tom Brady then took the Patriots down field, on the back of a 54-yard strike to Brandon LaFell that set the Patriots up at the Giants 15. It then appeared as though the Patriots were going to take an eight-point lead when LeGarrett Blount waltzed into the end zone. However, center David Andrews was called for holding at the one-yard-line. A few plays later, Tom Brady made his worst past of the season by throwing behind Brandon LaFell and it was intercepted by Trumaine McBride at the goal line.
It was happening again. The Giants bring the worst out of the Patriots and now Manning had the ball with six minutes remaining down by one at his own three. Manning converted three third down plays on the drive taking his offense all the way down to the Patriots five. On first-and-goal Manning hit Beckham in the corner of the end zone right in the hands. Although, the scrappy underdog Malcolm Butler never quit and punched the ball right out of his hands in what was correctly overturned to an incomplete pass. The Giants settled for a field goal only going up by two points.
Here it was. 1:46 left to play, Patriots down by two points at their own 20-yard line. It was time for Tom Brady to be Tom Brady. At first it did not look that way as he made a terrible decision to try and force the ball down field to Aaron Dobson while getting hit. Luckily it was dropped by rookie safety Landon Collins.
Three plays later the offense looked lethargic facing a third and ten. With Edelman down, the next man up mentality was never more evident than in this game when Danny Amendola stepped up, found space a converted the tough fourth and ten play. Amendola had two more catches on the drive, one setting them up at the Giants 36. Now Stephen Gostkowski was faced with his first clutch kicking performance of his Patriots career. 54-yards on the road with six seconds left. The snap and hold were perfect and Gostkowski absolutely nailed it. Ball game, Patriots exercise their demons against the Giants on the road, finally.
In the end, this was the type of win that defines championship teams. On the road, against a great coach and quarterback, you have a huge piece in Julian Edelman go down, and your best player in Tom Brady was not at his best. Even with all the adversity, the Patriots still managed to win. Fans can celebrate, but the team is moving on to a big divisional match up on Monday night football against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.