The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night to move to 4 – 0 on the season and dropping the Falcons to 1 – 4.
This wasn’t a must win for the Patriots but a big game for the team and one they obviously really wanted to win.
The Patriots showed a lot more positives from this game and here are my 3 takeaways from the prime time game.
- Defense is for real
– The Patriots defense is for real and they proved it Sunday night. If it wasn’t for an onside kick recovery by the Falcons the game wasn’t going to be close. Give Atlanta credit for not quitting but the defense is one solid unit for New England. They bended a couple times but didn’t break on most series. When Atlanta recovered their onside kick, the Patriots managed to hold them to a field goal on good field position. Then after a few big plays the Patriots defense dug in their heels and held the Falcons on 4 downs, and stopped them. I didn’t think we would see the day again where the Patriots defense could hold a good passing team on 4 downs. They got pass rush in times they needed it, and Talib shut down their best weapon. The Patriots clearly wanted to take the deep ball away and force Atlanta to be a short yard passing team and it worked. The call by Belichick on the 4th down play reminded us of his genius. He doubled Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, and put Talib, the best cover corner on Roddy White, and forced Matt Ryan to throw it against his best corner. Talib won the match, and the Patriots won the game. Aqib Talib is a difference maker and you can see how much better this defense is with him, he needs to stay healthy so New England can go deep in the playoffs. But it is time to stop doubting this defense, it is good and for real. They gave up only 2 touchdowns to Atlanta’s offense, and 3 field goals. Impressive.
- The running game was big
– On offense, especially in the first half, the Patriots made it a point to run the ball on the Falcons and they did. The Patriots loaded up their big guys and ran it down Atlanta’s throat to set up the first score of the game. A touchdown pass to Matthew Mulligan from one yard out. The run game was big in this game, pounding away on the defense, setting up play action, and breaking the game wide open in the 4th. LeGarrette Blount, who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, showed his big play ability Sunday Night, when he took a 47 yard run to the house for the score. Ridley, Blount, and Bolden all got in on the action and did good. The Patriots showed that when they are committed to the run, they can run that football. It was impressive Sunday Night.
- Thompkins stepping up
– Kenbrell Thompkins had a rocky two games to begin his career, but since then, he has been getting better and better. He won’t call it a breakout game against Atlanta, but I will. He showed that he can run routes and go deep as he went deep a few times for the Patriots. On a play action pass he went deep up the field, and jumped up and made an amazing catch over an Atlanta defender. He made another deep catch for 18 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a couple short passes, and picked up a few first downs for the Patriots. The Patriots are starting to be more willing to take deep shots a few times a game with Dobson and Thompkins but Sunday night Thompkins was the deep threat. Thompkins is starting to show his worth to the team, and he is getting better and better. He is a reason to smile about this passing offense getting a lot better through the season.