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Takeaways from Game 2

The collective rush of wind heard throughout New England late yesterday afternoon was not the approaching Hurricane Jose.  It was the collective exhale of Patriot Nation after New England’s 36-20 win over the Saints in New Orleans.  The Patriots corrected many of the issues that plagued them on both sides of the ball in the opening night debacle against Kansas City.  The Saints will likely not contend for a playoff spot this season, so all excitement should be tempered with that fact in mind.  But a win is a win in the NFL.  Following are a few takeaways from the win.


After an embarrassing performance in the opener against the Chiefs, the New England defense improved dramatically in the play of the front seven against the Saints.  Rookie lineman Deatrich Wise, a lone bright spot against the Chiefs, continued his strong play in Game 2.  Wise recorded a sack, five hits on quarterback Drew Brees, and also had two tackles for a loss.

The secondary showed marginal improvement, though they still allowed a number of deep completions and communication breakdowns.  Second year defensive back Jonathan Jones, pressed into service after the injury to starting cornerback Eric Rowe, made a pair of nice plays to break up deep passes.  Rowe was given the start in place of Malcolm Butler, who may be playing his way out of Foxborough and out of a big contract.  Butler looked particularly bad on a rub route at the goal line in the second quarter in which he allowed his man to break free and score the Saints first touchdown.


In a complete reversal from Game 1, the offense showcased all the weapons at their disposal.  Nine different players caught passes, and five had three or more receptions.  Six different players rushed the ball, including wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett.  The play calling featured varied formations, quick slants, jet sweeps and several well executed screen passes.  Rob Gronkowski returned to form as a nearly unstoppable force before being forced to the sideline with a reported groin injury.  Running back Rex Burkhead and wide receivers Dorsett and Chris Hogan also left the game for periods of time with injuries, however, none of the injuries are believed to be serious at this time.

Three touchdown passes in the first quarter alone proved that talk of Tom Brady’s decline was once again premature.  Brady threw with the rhythm and confidence that was lacking against the Chiefs.  In addition to the pure numbers (30/39, 447 YDS, 3 TD, 0 INT, 139.6 PR), Brady showed the poise and command of the game that keeps him at the top of the list NFL quarterbacks.


One play stood out as a reminder of why the Patriots have been the dominant team in the NFL since the turn of the century.  With the Patriots deep in New Orleans territory in the waning seconds of the first half and no timeouts remaining, Brady scrambled up the middle on a third and nine play and was tackled well short of the first down marker with only 15 seconds left to play.  With the clock still ticking down, the offense sprinted off the field while the field goal team came out, quickly lined up in formation and got off the snap with one second left on the clock.  Stephen Gostkowski converted the field goal to increase the Patriots’ lead to 30-13 at the half.  Though the play only resulted in three points, it exemplified the preparation and attention to detail with which the Patriots approach each game.

Look ahead

Next up for the Patriots is a match-up with the 1-1 Houston Texans in Foxborough on Sunday.  The Texans feature a strong defense led by J.J. Watt, which will be a good indicator of the status of the Patriots’ retooled offense.  The Patriots faced the Texans in the second preseason game this year, but it is a safe bet that the Patriots saved a few plays from their arsenal for use in the regular season.

Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_BSoT. 

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