Patriots Weeks Seven and Eight Recap

Max Davis, Contributing Writer

Week Seven

Week seven pitted the Atlanta Falcons against the New England Patriots in a highly anticipated Super Bowl rematch. Last year’s MVP Matt Ryan lead the 3-2 Falcons into Gillette Stadium on Sunday, October 22nd. The Falcons dropped two close games in a row to AFC East opponents prior to their matchup against the Patriots on national television. The weather at Gillette Stadium was increasingly foggy as the game went on; the announcers even went so far as to dub the game the “Fog Bowl 2.0” after the infamous 1988 game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears where the fog was so thick that the refs could barely see ten yards.

The game started out slow and the score stood at 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. However, near the end of the quarter, the Patriots shifted the momentum of the game in their favor with a blocked field goal. Tom Brady took advantage of this great special teams play and marched the Patriots down the field to score the first touchdown of the game. The Patriots got a nice boost from the defense as they smothered the Falcons offense in each possession. The Patriots held an impressive 17-0 lead at halftime.

The Patriots maintained their unrelenting defense in the second half and didn’t let up any points until after the game was over. Their offense scored two more field goals in the second half on their way to a huge 23-7 win over the Falcons to push their record to 5-2.

Week Eight

The Patriots faced off against the Los Angeles Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers at Gillette Stadium in week eight. The Los Angeles Chargers were led by electric running back Melvin Gordon, who is having a great season so far.

The first quarter started out slow, with stout defense on both sides. The Chargers finally broke out nine minutes into the game with an 87-yard rushing touchdown from Gordon. The Patriots quickly responded with a touchdown to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on a wide open play from the two-yard line. The Patriots were stopped on their next possession and were forced to punt to Chargers punt returner Travis Benjamin. Benjamin muffed the punt, then proceeded to run backwards into his own end zone where he was tackled for a safety. After this, the Patriots marched down and scored a field goal. They led the game 15-7 going into halftime.

The Patriots got the ball first in the second half and missed their field goal attempt after starting their drive at the Chargers 25-yard line. During their next drive, they scored a field goal, increasing their lead to eleven.

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed another field goal to start the fourth quarter. Rivers responded to the miss with a masterful drive down the field, which saw the Chargers score their second touchdown of the game. The Chargers stayed within striking distance all game, yet choked on the last play with a goal-line interception by the Patriots.

With this win, the Patriots reached 6-2. They will enter the bye week on a four-game winning streak. The bye week could not come at a better time, as the Patriots have many injured players who can benefit from a week off.

Things to note:

  • The heart of the Patriots’ defense, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, is out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Fellow linebacker Kyle Van Noy is expected to be the heart of the defense from here on out.
  • The Patriots limited Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 233 yards in the game and double-teamed wide receiver Julio Jones up until the game was well out of the Falcons’ reach in the fourth quarter.
  • Because of the fog, NBC had to switch its camera from the typical sideline cameras to the sky-cam.
  • Brady is now 7-0 against Rivers in his career.
  • Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan exited the Chargers game early with a shoulder injury after a rough tackle. He received an MRI on Monday. The MRI revealed that he will be kept out of action for no more than a few weeks. Surgery is not needed.
  • The Patriots limited Rivers to a dismal 212 yards passing in Week eight.
  • Several players on the Patriots have expressed their displeasure at the offense’s inability to finish drives. Brady said in a postgame interview, “[Struggle] is a good word for it. Have to finish them off. Know I’ve said that about 100 times this year.” Gronk echoed this opinion: “They’ve got a good defense and we’ve just got to execute better on offense. We’ve just got to play better on offense, just make more plays. We’ve got to get that ball in the end zone.”
  • Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was traded Monday to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick. In the aftermath of the trade, the Patriots picked up quarterback Brian Hoyer. They signed him to a three-year deal to be the backup for Brady. Hoyer has held this position before as he backed Brady up from 2009 to 2011.
  • The trade deadline came and passed with the Patriots making no moves to improve the defense.