By Traci MCartney // @traciamc
Sunday, September 17: 36 – 20 Win
After the home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on the national stage last week, the New England Patriots needed to come out of Week 2 with a convincing win. They completed that task with a win in New Orleans over the Saints, 36-20. Tom Brady looked like well, Tom Brady, throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, completing 30 of 39 pass attempts, earning him an impressive 139.6 passer rating.
With Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola out on offense, and Dont’a Hightower out on defense, it was unclear how the team was going to perform. But faith in Bill Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff insured that the Patriots, even on the road, would bounce back from their loss the week before.
The offense really came to life, with three touchdowns in the first quarter, with passes to Rex Burkhead, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan respectively. Brady even played referee, making a case for the crew to pick up the flag thrown for an illegal pick since the block was within one yard from the line of scrimmage limit. Mike Gillislee scored a fourth touchdown in the second quarter following fullback James Develin into the end zone, and with a 28 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, the Patriots had 30 points by halftime, allowing only 13 for Drew Brees and the Saints.
But as good as the offense was, there was a price – injuries. Rex Burkhead and Rob Gronkowski both left the game with rib and groin injuries respectively. Gronk’s injury was particularly concerning, as it looked at first like he might have reinjured the back which caused him to miss the end of the 2016 season and the Super Bowl.
At this point, neither injury looks serious and the players will be day to day. Wide Receivers Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett both suffered knee injuries, although Hogan never left the game. With such a depleted receiving corps, Josh McDaniels is going to have to be creative with his game planning for this week’s game against the Houston Texans, who have a couple of pro bowlers on their defense in JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney, not to mention Whitney Mercilus.
Despite giving up 348 yards passing to Drew Brees, and the mostly lackluster performance by the defensive secondary, there were some bright spots on defense. Defensive back Jonathan Jones got his hand up and knocked down what would have been a touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr. in addition to knocking away a long pass to Brandon Coleman.
Additionally, rookie defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, who had his first QB sack last week against the Chiefs, continued to prove his worth to the defense this week with another sack and five QB hits. If these two young players continue to play as well as they have been, they’ll be important components to Matt Patricia’s defense.
Next week the Patriots return home to Gillette Stadium to face the Houston Texans. These two teams know each other extremely well given that several of the Texans’ coaches have come from the Patriots’ system. Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel were both coaches in New England and Mike Vrabel, Larry Izzo and Wes Welker were all players. It should make for an interesting matchup! #WereOnToHouston
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