FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots remained perfect on the season moving to 6-0 after defeating the Giants 35-14 at Gillette Stadium, but their performance was hardly perfect. In fact, it was ugly, but that’s how New England is winning these days and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As the offense struggled to find footing early with a failed fourth down conversion, two punts and an interception to start the game, the special teams unit lent a helping hand. Literally. Brandon Bolden was able to block Riley Dixon’s punt with just over a minute to play in the first quarter. The ball was in the air, went into the arms of rookie Chase Winovich, who notched the first touchdown of his career and put the Patriots up 7-0.
“I just made contact with him, and as I was driving him back I really had two options,” Bolden said of shedding his blocker to get at the ball. “Either throw him into the punter, or just stick my hand up. I stuck my hand up, and the ball really just hit off my hand. It was just luck at that point.”
Thanks to injuries to the pass catching unit along with some inconsistent play from Tom Brady, New England’s offense wasn’t able to fully put the Giants on the ropes, who were still hanging around and only trailing by a score entering the fourth quarter.
Luckily for them, they didn’t need to — the defense was able to do it for them. At the 9:28 mark of the fourth quarter, second-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley was able to strip rookie Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, Kyle Van Noy was able to scoop it up and dive to the end zone for a dagger touchdown, shutting down any thoughts of a potential comeback.
“Any of those defensive or special teams touchdowns are really kind of bonus points,” Bill Belichick said, after the game. “You don’t really think about getting those when you go into the game so to be able to get 14 of them was huge. That was a big spark.”
While the Patriots certainly can’t expect those bonus points on a given week, they’re coming quite consistently through the first six games of the 2019 season. Even before this matchup, New England’s special teams unit and defense were able to find the end zone, adding a cushion for the most decorated quarterback of all-time. It’s a great luxury, but the offense knows full well that it’s in their job description to put up points and for the defense to primarily keep points off the board.
“We’ve got to hold out end of the bargain up more,” Julian Edelman said after the game.
“I think we just feel focused on what we have to do to get it going,” he continued. “It is just how it goes and we’re playing teams taht we don’t really play that often in back-to-back weeks. It is going to start off with a great week of practice coming up, have some time down and get it going. We know we’re not starting fast and we just have to keep on working, which is what it is all about.”
New England has an extended break after this Thursday night matchup as they’ll visit the Jets in New York on Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 7. With that extra time, not only will they hope key players like Philip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, and Rex Burkhead heal up, but they’ll also look to try and make this offense more efficient so that those luxury touchdowns by the defense and special teams aren’t so necessary.