The New England Patriots undefeated season remained intact on Sunday thanks to the reliable foot of Stephen Gostkowski. The veteran kicker drilled a 54-yard go-ahead field goal with one second remaining at Metlife Stadium, enabling the Patriots (9-0) to escape with a 27-26 win over the New York Giants (5-5).
Tom Brady threw for 334 yards in the win, overcoming a 13-point deficit and pair of costly turnovers, including an interception at the Giants goal line late in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning (361 passing yards, 2 touchdowns) drove the Giants down the length of the field after Brady’s late-game miscue to setup a field goal and give New York a 26-24 lead with 1:47 remaining in the game.
Brady was undeterred by the late-game deficit, driving New England 44 yards down the field before Gostkowski drilled his record-breaking 30th consecutive field goal.
Rob Gronkowski led the Patriots with 113 receiving yards, including a career-long 76-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Danny Amendola also stepped up with a game-high 10 receptions in the place of an injured Julian Edelman, who left the game in the first half with a foot injury and did not return.
Three things we learned:
1. The Patriots offense looked mortal without Julian Edelman. One week after losing running back Dion Lewis for the season with a torn ACL, the Patriots offense was dealt another blow. Edelman left the contest in the first half with a foot injury and reportedly is undergoing surgery Monday to repair a foot fracture, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Without two of the team’s top receiving weapons, Brady struggled to move the ball consistently for much of the second half against an underwhelming Giants defense that had allowed 52 points to the Saints a couple weeks back. Amendola took over as Brady’s go-to receiver down the stretch, but with Edelman likely to be out for several weeks, players further down the depth chart such as Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson will have to step up and help fill the void.
2. The Patriots benefited from Giant mistakes in the game’s closing minutes.This contest won’t have an asterisk next to it in the win column for the Patriots, but the Giants could have made things much more difficult for the Pats down the stretch. Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a touchdown pass that would have given New York an eight-point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Tom Coughlin also mismanaged the clock on the Giants’ final drive, opting for pass plays that led to clock stoppages, giving Brady plenty of time to put together a go-ahead drive in the final two minutes. Giants safety Landon Collins also dropped what would have been a game-clinching interception on a poorly thrown pass by Brady on New England’s winning drive. The Patriots should feel good about winning in a tough environment, but know that they probably wouldn’t even have had the chance to win it if the Giants executed on one of those plays down the stretch.
3. Pass protection for Pats is a concern moving forward. The depth chart for the Patriots offensive line is in rough shape and it showed on Sunday. With former practice squad player Cameron Fleming starting at one tackle and Bryan Stork seeing his first NFL start at right tackle, a large chunk of the offensive line was out of its comfort zone and it showed. The Giants pass rush sacked Brady three times on the day and put pressure on the quarterback on numerous other occasions, leading to a pair of turnovers and several other hurried throws. The veteran quarterback is dealing with limited receiving options for the foreseeable future and that reality places added pressure on the line to mesh well and keep Brady protected in the coming weeks.