For the first time this season, the Patriots do not have a losing record. This sigh-of-relief moment comes following stellar performances from a bundle of Patriots players on offense, defense, and special teams. How exactly did this 38-15 win come to be, you ask?
Doing your job. Parts of life far beyond football can be simplified with this unostentatious statement. In the grand scheme of things, an individual person possesses a tiny fraction of responsibility. Attempting to manage the responsibilities of others is highly inefficient and, in most cases, ineffective as well. If everybody in a group tasked with a seemingly difficult goal only focuses on themselves, then the once impossible goal becomes very possible.
Bill Belichick understands this ‘do your job’ principle better than most mentors in the NFL, which is why he has found historical success as a coach. His mastery of this mentality does not exclusively show up on a career-long basis. It shows up on a game-to-game basis as well; most recently in the Patriots’ Week Six win against the Cleveland Browns. In this piece, I will be talking about the jobs of offensive and defense heading into this game and how each group executed their job to near perfection.
Defense: Turnovers, Tackles, And Tummy-Rubs
The overall goal for any defense heading into a football game is to limit runs and passes, accumulate a few turnovers or stops, and have some fun while doing it. It’s pretty safe to say that the Patriots did all three this Sunday.
Due to excellent efforts from every tackle, edge, back, and safety on the defense, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt – the best running back duo in the league (behind Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, of course) – were, combined, held to 68 yards and no touchdowns. Stuffing the run on almost every attempt gave the Patriots much-needed away-game momentum to propel themselves to victory.
Desperate for movement and yardage, the Browns were forced to turn to Jacoby Brissett to pick up points through the air. Maintaining their common theme of consistency, the Patriots defense shut that down as well. Brissett completed under 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions thanks to Kyle Dugger and Jalen Mills. Brissett also had a fumble that was returned inside the ten by DT Carl Davis, who had a pretty sweet celebration at the end (more on that later).
Former #Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett with a quick INT against his former team. Kyle Dugger gets him.pic.twitter.com/KLOitJCa46 — Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 16, 2022
The only touchdown the Patriots allowed the entire day was on a spectacular back-shoulder catch from Amari Cooper. Myles Bryant was air-tight in coverage, but the ball-placement from Brissett was perfect. The Patriots were able to rebound nicely the very next play, stopping the Browns from converting on the two-point attempt and keeping the game at a two-score margin. Here is a great angle from that Cooper catch:
What an amazing touchdown by Amari Cooper.pic.twitter.com/Lqi284Fwf5 — Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 16, 2022
That play considered, the Patriots had a lot of fun showing out in Cleveland. When everybody is clicking and on the same page, the football gods tend to reward the players, like we saw today. But when teams are very, very lucky, the football gods sometimes reward the fans with more than a win. Following an impressive fourth-quarter fumble recovery and return by DT Carl Davis – who I talked about briefly before – Patriots fans were gifted with one of the best celebrations I have seen in a while.
FUMBLE, BIG CARL DAVIS RECOVERS FOR THE PATRIOTS! pic.twitter.com/E93j1jlXpu — 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) October 16, 2022
This defense – celebrations and all – earned an A+ grade for today. I saw nothing wrong with their execution aside from a few minor mistakes that are guaranteed to happen in a football game.
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Offense: Points, Points, And Points
The only job of an NFL offense is to score as many points as possible. They impressively acted on that job with an unexpected player at the helm.
In what was probably his final start this season, fourth-round rookie QB Bailey Zappe had one of the most impressive showings I have seen from a rookie QB in a while, throwing for over 300 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. On a less serious note, he can also brag that he threw for more weekly yards than Tom Brady.
Following this jaw-dropping performance from Zappe, a minority of fans have started to question the security of Mac Jones’s job as the starter. I’m not here to talk about this non-existent QB competition (you can understand why by reading this piece that another Gillette Gazette writer wrote), but it is nice knowing that the Patriots have league-topping depth at the quarterback position.
It was a successful day for most Patriots receivers, as well. Devante Parker, Jonnu Smith, and Jakobi Meyers all had over 60 yards receiving. The most surprising receiver was Tyquan Thornton, who, in his second NFL start, was able to cash in two touchdowns and help lead the team to victory. His speed is, of course, otherworldly, but he’s proving that he can put it to work.
Bailey Zappe ➡️ Tyquan Thornton ➡️ Touchdown. First career touchdown for Thornton. pic.twitter.com/p5HlMR17t7 — Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) October 16, 2022
After this, Tyquan had another great touchdown on the sweep, highlighting that the Patriots can use him in multiple ways.
The run-game for the Pats was also on-point. Rhamondre Stevenson knew that his number was going to be called extra due to Damien Harris being ruled out with a hamstring injury. Four-yards a carry, 76 yards, and two touchdowns later, I can confirm that Stevenson answered those calls. Stevenson has been the best sophomore RB in the league so far this season, and I don’t see him slowing down. Here are both of his runs for six:
Rhamondre Stevenson with the BIG touchdown run. Great blocking as well. Patriots take the lead. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Zvw5XYPUgO — Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) October 16, 2022
Aside from way too many penalties, the Patriots offense played a great game. Putting up 38 points against any team is never easy, even if it’s the Browns. I give them an A- grade since the offensive line, especially on the edges, could have been slightly better.
Thanks for reading! Go Pats!
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