FOXBORO — It isn’t typically that the primary play truly units the tone of an NFL recreation.
The Vikings’ journey to Gillette Stadium on Sunday was an exception.
Trying to get their dynamic operating again in area towards the Patriots linebackers, Kirk Cousins floated his first move into the flat for Dalvin Prepare dinner. The cross was inaccurate, forcing Prepare dinner to succeed in excessive together with his proper arm.
The ball fell to the bottom. In a split-second, Prepare dinner joined the ball. Elandon Roberts got here crashing in, leveling Prepare dinner and firing up the Patriots sideline.
The remainder of the sport was a lot of the identical: Plenty of Cousins checkdowns, suffocating Patriots protection, and ultimately a well-rounded 24-10 win over the Vikings.
Listed here are the grades for every place:
For almost all of the afternoon, Tom Brady did not have to throw the ball farther than 5 yards down the sector.
The Patriots utilized display passes and quick-hitters to select up chunks of yardage within the first half.
Within the early second quarter, Brady did a pleasant job holding on to the ball and rolling out to create a throwing lane to James White on a display cross. Earlier than the rollout, the display wasn’t obtainable.
No, there weren’t many eye-popping throws that made you marvel at Brady’s arm power. However that is not a requirement for a robust efficiency at quarterback.
His 9.7 yards per move try was his greatest common of the season.
Brady was intercepted late within the fourth-quarter on an off-target throw for Julian Edelman, however he was hit by security Harrison Smith on the play.
RUNNING BACK: B
Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White mixed for 40 touches.
The roles have been divided as anticipated. Michel maintained his spot as the highest ball-carrier. He additionally noticed aim line and short-yardage work. Michel could not punch in a landing on a first-and-goal on the opening collection, however he stored his legs churning to transform first downs on a pair of third-and-1 carries later within the recreation.
General, this wasn’t Michel’s greatest outing, as he averaged three.7 yards per carry.
Burkhead rotated in for early-down carries on a number of collection. He additionally performed alongside White on third downs.
On Brady’s 5-yard scramble within the first quarter, Burkhead threw a key block towards Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.
Even when we subtract White’s 42-yard reception towards a forestall protection on the ultimate play of the primary half, White nonetheless totaled 76 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches.
WIDE RECEIVER: B
Hey, this Josh Gordon man is perhaps alright.
He was and not using a catch and goal on the 2:20 mark of the third quarter. On the subsequent 10 performs for the New England offense, Gordon accounted for 78 yards and a landing.
He simply broke the deal with of Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels to show a brief hitch route right into a 24-yard achieve. He discovered actual property in the midst of Minnesota’s zone protection for a simple 24-yard landing three performs later. And on the Patriots’ first offensive snap of the fourth quarter, Gordon drew a 20-yard cross interference flag towards undrafted rookie cornerback Holton Hill.
Though he hasn’t been a real “deep threat,” Gordon ranks fifth within the league averaging 17.eight yards per reception. He is been superior after the catch.
Apart from Gordon, this was a quiet recreation for the wideouts. Julian Edelman caught solely three passes for 25 yards, however added 35 dashing yards. Edelman dedicated a drop on a third-and-6 late within the first quarter.
Cordarrelle Patterson made a pleasant fingertip seize for a 29-yard achieve within the second half.
TIGHT END: C
We did not hear Rob Gronkowski’s identify a lot through the broadcast.
Gronk caught three passes for 26 yards. His most spectacular play was a 15-yard reception over the center within the late third quarter. He took a tough shot to the leg from Vikings security Harrison Smith, however managed to carry on to the ball.
As all the time, Gronk impacted the operating recreation. On a Burkhead 9-yard carry, fullback James Develin stood up defensive deal with Tom Johnson and Gronkowski took care of defensive finish Stephen Weatherly to create the opening.
Gronk was flagged for a false begin on the primary play from scrimmage and for a holding penalty late within the fourth quarter.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-plus
A part of the rationale why the Patriots have been so profitable with screens and brief passes was due to the blocking on the second degree.
On a third-and-6 within the second quarter, 380-pound left deal with Trent Brown rumbled into the secondary and blocked cornerback Xavier Rhodes to pave the best way for a White 11-yard achieve.
On the subsequent play, a display cross, proper guard Shaq Mason worn out Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks to spring White for a 15-yard achieve.
With all of the quick-hitters, move safety was a non-factor for 3 quarters.
However the offensive line gave Brady ample time on his few downfield throws. Brady was capable of step up within the pocket and discover Gordon for a 24-yard landing as a result of Mason had stonewalled Johnson on the line of scrimmage.
There have been a number of miscommunications up entrance, together with one play that resulted in a four-yard loss for Burkhead. Proper deal with Marcus Cannon and tight finish Rob Gronkowski allowed defensive finish Stephen Weatherly to cost into the backfield unblocked.
On Brady’s interception, nobody blocked blitzing security Harrison Smith.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-minus
At occasions, the Patriots used one defensive lineman with three linebackers and 7 defensive backs.
On one such play, Trey Flowers lined up over the nostril, discarded Vikings middle Pat Elflein, and generated strain up the center to pressure a Cousins third-down throwaway.
Defensive deal with Adam Butler recorded a sack in the midst of the primary quarter (with an help from the secondary for its protection). On the primary play of the fourth quarter, Butler took down Elflein, making a lane for Flowers to stunt inside and get to Cousins for the sack.
Defensive finish Adrian Clayborn steadily lined up over tight finish Kyle Rudolph on third downs, bumping Rudolph after which coming as a fifth rusher. He was unblocked on a third-and-long within the late second quarter. Cousins checked right down to Latavius Murray earlier than he might get his eyes downfield.
The Patriots had some points up entrance towards the run, however defensive deal with Lawrence Man was strong.
This is all it’s essential to know: Kirk Cousins threw to operating backs Dalvin Prepare dinner and Latavius Murray 12 occasions. He accomplished 10 of these passes … for a complete of 25 yards.
The Vikings doubtless believed that they had a bonus in the event that they obtained the ball to their playmakers in area towards the Patriots linebackers.
On today, they have been fallacious.
The Pats did not permit something after the catch. Kyle Van Noy chased down Stefon Diggs on a third-down display to drive a punt on Minnesota’s first possession. Dont’a Hightower sniffed out a display to Prepare dinner and dropped him for a two-yard loss on the ultimate play of the primary quarter. Within the fourth quarter, Van Noy tripped up Prepare dinner from behind on a brief cross over the center. He was the one defender inside 10 yards of the ball.
The one points have been towards the run. Elandon Roberts did not seem to fill his hole on a 32-yard run by Prepare dinner.
Within the second quarter, Van Noy received pinned inside by tight finish Kyle Rudolph, permitting Prepare dinner to get to the sting. Later, Roberts was pushed to the bottom by deal with Riley Reiff, which created a cutback lane for Prepare dinner on an 18-yard achieve.
DEFENSIVE BACK: A
Cousins hardly threw downfield. This was partially because of the strain generated by the Patriots. In some instances, Cousins did not have time to let the deeper routes develop.
However general, the protection on Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs was terrific.
Stephon Gilmore principally drew the Diggs task. He dealt with Thielen sometimes when the receiver aligned outdoors the numbers.
Often, although, Jason McCourty was chargeable for overlaying the NFL’s most constant receiver. And McCourty locked him right down to the tune of 28 yards.
The Vikings examined rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson, who performed 89 % of the snaps, 3 times in the long run zone. These performs resulted in two incompletions and a Duron Harmon interception. Jackson was bodily with Thielen and Aldrick Robinson, however prevented drawing any flags.
Patrick Chung struggled on the Vikings’ landing drive. He was a step sluggish on a Diggs slant route, permitting a 24-yard achieve (Chung was in protection as a result of Jason McCourty blitzed). On the subsequent play, Rudolph beat Chung for a 23-yard achieve.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus
Stephen Gostkowski missed a 48-yard subject objective within the third quarter.
Previous to that try, Gostkowski had made all 58 kicks inside 50 yards this season (area objectives and additional factors).
A Brandon King holding penalty negated a 22-yard punt return by Julian Edelman within the early second half. As an alternative of beginning in Vikings territory, the Pats have been pushed again to their very own 24-yard line.
The Pats allowed a 33-yard kickoff return to Ameer Abdullah within the second quarter.
Invoice Belichick will get an ‘A’ solely for his back-and-forth with Adam Thielen, telling the Vikings receiver to “shut the (expletive) up.” As Tom Brady stated on his Monday morning WEEI interview, “that was pretty funny.”
As for the sport plan? Yeah, that will get a excessive grade, too.
The Patriots disguised their defensive fronts and located artistic methods to deliver strain. They typically rushed 5, however the Minnesota offensive line appeared to have hassle figuring out which 5 defenders have been coming.
Offensively, the Patriots’ refusal to get Josh Gordon concerned till the third quarter was weird, however there isn’t any arguing with the outcomes. The Pats moved the ball effectively all through the sport. Tom Brady nonetheless averaged a wholesome eight.7 yards per try when the end-of-half 42-yard completion to James White is faraway from the equation.
The Pats’ playaction was efficient. On the opening drive, Cordarrelle Patterson motioned towards the formation and confirmed run block — a task he is occupied in current weeks — and snuck out into the flat uncovered for a 24-yard achieve.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
CB Jason McCourty: The veteran is getting higher late within the season.
DE Trey Flowers: Nonetheless a beast.
RB James Develin: Good luck to defenses making an attempt to cease the 255-pound Develin from choosing up a half-yard.
BACK OF THE PACK
S Patrick Chung: Crushed for 2 positive factors of 20+ yards on the Vikings’ landing drive.
TE Rob Gronkowski: Penalized twice, was a non-factor within the passing recreation.
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