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Sunday, 22 October 2017 23:20

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Atlanta Falcons 23-7

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Atlanta Falcons 23-7 Image via AP, Steven Senne

It was a Super Bowl LI rematch Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots picked up right where they left off in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

After narrowly escaping the Meadowlands with a victory last week, the New England Patriots returned home to face the Atlanta Falcons. After having what was statistcally, one of the worst defenses in NFL history, the Patriots faced a large measuring stick. They were up to the task on Sunday night as the team picked up right where they left off when they last met the Falcons in February.

 

1. Defense - For the first time this season, the Patriots defense held an opponent under 400 yards of total offense. The performance from the defense on Sunday night was a huge stepping stone for a unit that has basically been stepped on thus far this season. After looking better over the past couple of weeks, it appears as though the defense finally has something to build on.

 

2. Passing Defense - Speaking of defense, for the first time this season, the Patriots defense held an opponent under 300 passing yards. Matt Ryan threw for only 233 yards and a garbage time touchdown throw. What makes the success of the pass defense even more impressive tonight was the fact that New England was without both Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe. Ryan and the potent Falcons offense were held in check for the good majority of the game.

 

3. Dion Lewis - Lewis appeared to be the feature back in Sunday's victory. He totaled 76 yards on 13 carries and added another six yards on his only reception of the game. The speed of the Atlanta defense may have caused Lewis to see more playing time as he is the quickest of the Patriots' running backs. That shiftiness was used to counter the speed of the Falcons and find holes to run through.

 

4. Offensive Line - While Brady was sacked twice in this game, he was not under as much duress as he was in during the Super Bowl. On Sunday night, the offense line got Brady enough time to make the throws that he needed to make. After a strong performance from the offensive line last week, the unit may have turned a corner.

 

5. Johnson Bademosi - After being acquired to contribute on special teams, Bademosi has stepped up on defense the past couple of weeks. With both Gilmore and Rowe missing the last two games, Bademosi has been thrust into the starting lineup. That is a chance he has taken advantage of as he has proven to be more than capable when opposing quarterbacks target him.

 

6. Running Game - After entering the game in the bottom half of the league in rushing, the Patriots had a solid game moving the ball on the ground. The offense ran for 162 yards on 36 carries in the game. That is good for over four yards per carry. When the time came to run the clock out with the running game the offense was able to do so. They were also able to convert in short yardage situations, which was something the running game had failed to do earlier in the season.

 

Extra Point

 

Dont'a Hightower had to leave the game in the fourth quarter due to an injury to his shoulder. The three score lead late in the game probably helped his departure from the game. Considering his injury history and the lack of depth in the linebacking corp, Hightower's injury will be one to watch going forward as the team prepares for the surprisingly surging Chargers. 

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.