As the Patriots watched yet another game slip away in the 4th quarter, Tom Brady and company did everything they could to give New England a second chance at changing what was going to be another head-scratching result. With an impressive drive capped by a game-tying field goal as time expired, the Patriots were still alive and went on to close things out for good in overtime, beating the Jets 29-26. A few clutch Stephen Gostkowski field goals are to thank for New England avoiding their first 3-4 record since the 2002 season.
Gostkowski Redeems Himself, Sort Of – As the patriots were driving down the field with under a minute remaining in regulation, frantically attempting to get into field goal range to potentially send the game to overtime, all one could think is how Stephen Gostkowski would react to his second chance at a clutch kick as time expired on the season. Of course, Gostowski missed the potential game winning field goal just five weeks prior against the Arizona Cardinals, so fans were finally given a reason to doubt one of the most consistent kickers in the league in recent history. Surely enough, the Patriots hopes of overtime came down to a 43-yard field goal for Gostowski, and he calmly knocked it right through the uprights to give fans in New England a sigh of relief. Add a 48-yard Gostkowski field goal in overtime that would prove to be the game-winner, and Stephen can move into this week’s game against the Rams with the reassurance that his missed game-winner against Arizona may have just been a fluke.
Deep Passing Game Gone? – Now, don’t get me wrong. What we saw in 2007 between Tom Brady and Randy Moss will surely never happen again in New England, yet one has to wonder where the deep passing game has gone over the past few seasons. Saying that the Patriots simply haven’t had the right weapons may have been a valid point in the past, but Brandon Lloyd’s main attraction to coming to New England was that he was going to have a chance to spread the field for others like Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Welker. Brady took a decent amount of chances deep on Sunday, yet none of them connected. If the Patriots want an even more dynamic offense, they will need to work on mixing in some successful deep throws to keep the defense honest and, in turn, opening up the field for Brady’s other options. This seems to be the only missing piece in the Patriots offensive attack thus far.
Gronkowski Is the Difference – After entering the week listed as questionable on the depth chart, Gronkowski appeared to be his usual self, with 6 receptions for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of these touchdown grabs was an impressive over the shoulder catch in the first quarter that very few tight ends in today’s game could make. This affirmed us that even when Gronkowski isn’t 100%, he is still one of the best receivers of any kind in the NFL.
Brady to Lloyd Undetermined – It seems to be a weekly occurrence that we check in on the chemistry of Tom Brady and his newest weapon at wide receiver, Brandon Lloyd, but considering that Brady hasn’t had a legitimate deep threat since 2007, it is a valid practice. Lloyd was targeted eight times against the Jets and only had one reception. While some of these catches were challenging, Lloyd has proven so far that he can make catches that lots of receivers in the NFL cannot, so this may be a concern for the Patriots moving forward. The chemistry between these two will play a vital role in the Patriots offense from here on out, so look for them to work on this in practice and either grow closer or farther apart in the coming weeks.
Can’t Close Out – Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “It’s the 4th quarter and the Patriots are up by double-digits,” followed by, “And miraculously, the game is tied!” It has happened time and time again that New England has held a late lead and found a way to cough it up. It is hard to get on the case of the number one ranked offense in the NFL, yet this is a serious flaw that new offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, and company will have to figure out. It seems as though the team is playing not to lose at the end of every game, and this is constantly giving their opponents new life. This may just be the identity of the Patriots, as few aspects of the game have been consistent in the first seven weeks of the season.
Top Note – The Patriots gained at least 350 yards for the 16th straight regular-season game, tying the St. Louis Rams of 1999-2000 for the most in NFL history.
Up Next – The Pats head to London to take on the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium. Kickoff is 1:00 PM EST.
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