Many have started to question whether the 2019 Patriots defense is the greatest of all time. Whilst as a whole the team allowed 14pts, they also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, took a fumble to the house, recorded three picks and the D gave up just seven points.
Sure the Giants offense started to look a little limp after a while, but New England’s defense did what it was supposed to do. You also can’t blame the Patriots for their schedule either. Matched against teams with a combined record of 7-22, the hosts have racked up 14 interceptions, 16 total takeaways and established a +142 point differential.
Led by Stephon Gilmore (5 passes defensed, 1 INT), Kyle Van Noy (sack, TD return), rookie Chase Winovich (punt-blocked TD), and players at all levels, the Patriots are playing their best when they need it most. Heading in to the fourth quarter it was a one-score game, but in true New England fashion they salted the game away with a forced fumble of Jon Hilliman, one which exemplified the Pat’s team defense. On third-and-9, Duron Harmon blitzed off the left, forcing Daniel Jones to rush a screen pass to Hilliman, resulting in Jamie Collins punching the ball out behind the line of scrimmage, and following a scrum, Van Noy appeared with the ball, sprinting down the sideline and leaping over a diving Jones to make it a two-score game and securing the victory.
Daniel Jones got introduced to the NFL Champions for the first time Thursday. His prime-time debut went almost as expected, a pretty throw or two amongst a plethora of misses, poor decisions and turnovers. Against an historic Patriots defense, the rookie QB took too many shots into tight windows, as he has been doing all season, and threw three interceptions against the league’s sharpest secondary. Hist first pick of the night barely had a chance to find Golden Tate and was tipped into John Simon‘s hands. On his second, Jones held the football for over six seconds and still had his elbow hit before lofting into the arms of Harmon.
The Giants had an opportunity to pull level out of the break, down by a single score, and driving, but Jones launched his third interception, completely missing Gilmore on the sideline as he attempted an out pattern toward Rhett Ellison. One thing going for the young QB is his pristine touchdown pass to Golden Tate broke the Patriots’ steak of now allowing a passing score, so there is that for New York to take away.
It wasn’t Tom Brady‘s best game, but on a night when he made history by passing Payton Manning for second on the all-time passing yards list, the veteran QB made some odd history in his own record books. Thursday’s win marked the first time that Brady failed to throw a touchdown, threw a pick, lost a fumble and rushed for at least one score (in fact, he ran for two!). It was a unique evening for all who bore witness. Brady also saw an unusual amount of pressure from a previously unremarkable Giants pass rush; the playmaker was sacked three times and hit six. His first-quarter interception that squandered a scoring opportunity and almost set up a Giants score was thrown way behind Julian Edelman. The greatest thing about New England is despite their offense not looking as in sync as usual, the future Hall of Famer QB completed nearly 75% of his passes for 334 yards and his team won by three scores.
It wasn’t only Brady making the history books. Edelman surpassed Stanley Morgan (534) for the third-most receptions in Patriots history.
Talk before the game was all about how New York were without Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. But across the field, New England were also suffering from a similar issue. Without Phillip Dorsett and Rex Burkhead to start, the hosts also lost Josh Gordon for the second half, throwing Gunner Olszewski into a near-every-down role. Add that to New England using an extra tight end (Ryan Izzo) to help out Marshall Newhouse at LT, and the Patriots were hung out to dry on offense as well. The bodies continued to drop throughout the game too. J.C. Jackson, Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, John Simon and Devin McCourty all spent time in and around the blue medical tent. New England’s depth is unrivaled, but more nights like this one and their ranks could become dramatically thin.
The Patriots’ kicker situation continues to be dire, and it’s putting Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels in difficult positions. Three times on this windy Thursday night in Foxborough, the Pats opted to go for it on fourth down in Giants territory instead of having Mike Nugent attempt a field goal. They failed to pick up the first down on all three plays, though one conversion was granted via penalty. New England were right no to trust the 37-year-old kicker – after missing an extra point last week, Nugent hit all five of his extra points, but missed a 40-yard FG that would have put his team up by two scores in the third quarter. Without Stephen Gostkowski or Adam Viantieri for the first time in the Belichick era, the Patriots could tap the kicker well again during their long week off.
The question on everyone’s mind is how long can New England stay undefeated? For now the answer is at least one more week, as the Pats get ready for the Jets next Monday (Oct. 21). But after that the Patriots face the frisky Browns, Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs, with a bye stuck in there in week 11. If New England stay perfect through that frenzy, perhaps those early-fall conversations about the greatest defense and team of all time will prove true.
Cardinals v Giants – Sunday, October 20 (1pm – FOX)
Patriots v Eagles – Monday, October 21 (8:15pm – ESPN)