Five takeaways from Patriots' 23-22 win over Bears
Five takeaways from Patriots' 23-22 victory over Bears
FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo's two-minute drill at the end of the first half was sharp and might have been considered a pretty good way to end the night, but the Patriots brought him back out for the second half so he could simulate the feeling of going into the locker room, making adjustments, and coming back onto the field to lead the offense once again.
In his first and only drive of the third quarter, Garoppolo went 3-for-4, including a 25-yard completion to receiver Chris Hogan. His final pass of the night should have been picked by Bears linebacker John Timu -- Garoppolo seemed to never see him -- but all in all it was a solid night for Tom Brady's replacement. He finished 16-for-21 for 181 yards and one touchdown.
Here are four more takeaways from the Patriots' matchup with the Bears, a 23-22 win for the hosts . . .
LeGarrette Blount steps up
Running back LeGarrette Blount seemed to put a stranglehold on the primary "big back" role for the Patriots with his performance Thursday. He ran for 69 yards on 11 carries, and more importantly he looked light on his feet. His jukes allowed him to pick up yards when there were not obvious holes to run through, and he used his 250-pound frame to finish his carries -- particularly his goal-line touchdown run -- with power. Tyler Gaffney ran hard and showed up in the passing game, but Blount was the more efficient back in terms of creating yards on his own.
A.J. Derby turns in best performance
Tight end A.J. Derby put together his best performance in a Patriots uniform against Chicago. His touchdown catch capped a clean two-minute drill, and it highlighted Derby's ability to make contested catches -- something he's shown throughout camp. He also reeled in the catch of the night when Jacoby Brissett hit him along the sideline for a 26-yard gain despite the fact that Derby took a massive hit as soon as he came down with the reception. Derby, a former college quarterback in his second year with the Patriots, finished with six grabs for 71 yards. He's vying for a reserve tight end role with the Patriots, and could be in competition with veteran Clay Harbor for one roster spot.
Anthony Johnson makes his case
If you've never heard of Anthony Johnson before, don't feel bad. Somewhat of a journeyman defensive lineman over the last two seasons -- he was with the Dolphins and Redskins in 2014 and 2015 -- he signed with the Patriots in May. Thursday was a coming out party of sorts for the LSU product. He had a pass breakup, a tackle for a loss of three yards and a pressure on third down that led to an incompletion. He had practiced with the first-team defensive line at points earlier this week, and he made the most of his opportunities under the lights.
What went wrong
It wasn't all positive for the Patriots, which coach Bill Belichick will probably highlight in his postgame press conference: Justin Coleman had a difficult first quarter, which included a holding penalty; Cameron Fleming was used frequently as a tight end in heavy packages but had some issues in pass protection; Hogan and Jon Halapio were called for holding penalties; Jordan Richards missed a tackle in coverage on tight end Rob Housler (left) that led to a long gain.