How They Got Here- Patriots

Week #3 vs. Houston ~ The New England Patriots returned home looking for their first home victory of the 2017 season. Here was a showdown with the Houston Texans, a team they’ve seen quite a bit of over the past few years. Here was the defending champions first game against Houston since their playoff showdown in January 2017. This was a much different Texans team than the one the Patriots saw last season; it was also the first career showdown between Deshaun Watson, the rookie and Tom Brady, the established veteran. Talk about a game going back and forth!!! Houston gave New England all they could handle and it hurt New England’s defense even more after we saw their defensive struggles early on. The Houston Texans were in control, but the one thing we should know by now is to never count these Patriots out! Tom Brady did Brady-like things when it mattered and he connected with Brandin Cooks for the go-ahead touchdown! The New England Patriots escaped this one with the 3-point victory, 36-33.

Week #5 vs. Tampa Bay ~ This was the New England Patriots 2nd Thursday night game of the year and they had a short week to try and bounce back from the loss to Carolina at home the previous week. The Patriots were 2-2 and looking to get back on the winning side of things. Tom Brady was sharp in this game; throwing for 303 yards, but what truly stood out to me was how regrouped the defense looked; especially after how it struggled thus far. Through 5 games, this was their fewest amount of points (14!) but they held on for the victory. Tom Brady also added to his legendary resume by tying the record for the most wins in the regular season. No team is better at bouncing back from a victory than the New England Patriots.

Week #7 vs. Atlanta ~ It was the matchup everyone was looking forward to seeing! For the first time since February, the Falcons would have a shot at the team that came back from being down 25 points to win Super Bowl LI. The New England Patriots entered the game as winners of their last 2 games and were looking to click as the season went on. In this particular game, it was the best I had seen the Patriots look all year long. They kept a prolific Falcons offense in check and shut them out through the first 3 quarters which was another sign of this defense finding its identity. The Patriots went back to simplification as a defense. The winning streak was now extended to 3 games.

Week #13 vs. Buffalo ~ The New England Patriots were closing in on another AFC East Division title. They also clinched another winning season under Bill Belichick the previous week against the Miami Dolphins. Since he had become the starting quarterback, Tom Brady has absolutely destroyed the Buffalo Bills in his career. Buffalo tried its absolute hardest to keep it close, but the Patriots pulled away and their defense was solid. The Patriots held the Bills to a total of 3 points. This was their 8th consecutive win. This was also the game where Rob Gronkowski decided to pile-drive his shoulder into the back of Tre’Davious White’s head after Gronk felt he was held on a play. The hit would earn him a 1-game suspension

Week #14 vs. Miami ~ It was a Monday Night Showdown with a team who has been known to really give them all they could handle, especially in Florida in the Miami Dolphins. This was the 1 game where New England would be without the services of Rob Gronkowski who was serving his 1-game suspension for his actions in the previous game against the Buffalo Bills. This was not a good night for the New England Patriots. The Miami Dolphins played tight man coverage across the board in the secondary and their defensive line put continuous amounts of pressure on Brady all game long. When you jam the receivers off their routes and get a few hits on Brady, you neutralize the offense and that is exactly what happened here. The 8-game winning streak was snapped and in the words of Bill Belichick, it was onto the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Week #15 vs. Pittsburgh ~ This was the rematch of last year’s AFC Championship and a potential preview of this years’ as well. The New England Patriots have owned the Pittsburgh Steelers over the years; would it be different this time around? Despite losing Antonio Brown, the Steelers were off to a quick start and were up by as many as 14 points in the 3rd quarter. Then came the 4th quarter and that’s usually when the Patriots wake up. On the final New England possession, Brady connected with Gronkowski 4 times to get into the redzone. They also connected for the 2-point conversion. New England would come back and hold on after intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in the redzone to end the game. This game had huge playoff implications as the winner would close in on the top seed in the AFC.

Divisional Round vs. Tennessee ~ Different year /Same results…The New England Patriots entered the postseason as the top seed and the road to Minneapolis, Minnesota would travel through Foxboro, Massachusetts once again. The Tennessee Titans entered this game after coming back from 18 points down in Kansas City in the Wild Card round. They scored the first points in this one then came New England and they did Patriot like things. Brady had another standout game in January and the Patriots put the Tennessee Titans away and advanced to their 7th straight AFC Championship Game.

AFC Championship vs. Jacksonville ~ This was supposed to be the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the New England Patriots for the right to represent the AFC, but the Jacksonville Jaguars had a say in that. Throughout the season and before the playoffs started, I had been saying if there was a team that could really give the Patriots problems on the field, it was the Jacksonville Jaguars. We saw this in the first half of the game! Brady’s pocket was collapsed, their running game was struggling and the defense was having a hard time slowing down a balanced Jacksonville offensive attack. We all know by now – there is no team who is better at making second half adjustments than the New England Patriots.

When they are down they are not out. With Brady registering his 11th career comeback in the playoffs, he erased a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter to win their 8th AFC Conference Championship and their 2nd straight Super Bowl appearance!!!