Best and Worst: New England Patriots 24, Minnesota Vikings 10
FOXBORO -- The best and worst from Sunday's Patriots-Vikings game at Gillette Stadium.
REALLY ANXIOUS TO GET STARTED
On the first offensive snap for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski got whistled for starting too early.
On the Patriots first offensive drive, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, Rex Burkhead, Edelman, Sony Michel and James Develin handled the ball en route to an eight-play, 81-yard touchdown drive.
ADAM IN THE RIBS
Patriots defensive lineman Adam Butler came up with a key sack on the Vikings’ second drive, knocking the Vikings back from the New England 22 to the 30 which made a difference on the eventual missed field goal.
Julian Edelman had a third-down drop, lost control of the ball after he was down on a run and also had the ball squirt loose at the end of a punt return, all in the first half.
On the first third-down play of the second quarter for the Patriots offense, James White went in motion then pulled in a little paddlepass from Tom Brady for a gain of 11.
Embattled Vikings kicker Dan Bailey missed a 48-yard field goal attempt on the Vikings second drive. Bailey missed two of his three attempts last week against the Packers and he’s getting on Mike Zimmer’s last nerve.
I don’t have to buy tickets and I don’t have to sit in the cold so I hesitate to be too harsh in my criticism but you could hear leaves rustling in Walpole throughout much of the first half.
WILE! YOU’RE LATE!
Vikings punter/holder Matt Wile was a late arrival on the missed field goal attempt by Bailey which is not an ideal scenario for success.
Dalvin Cook was clearly a big part of the Vikings offensive game plan. He saw seven targets in the first half. The Patriots clearly expected that. He gained 11 yards on the five receptions he made.
The Patriots had a chance to do the double-up score before halftime after getting the ball with 3:07 remaining in the half. But on a third-and-1, the Patriots ran a direct snap to James White and he got stacked up, allowing the Vikings one more possession. Which they turned into a touchdown.
The Patriots – and Jason McCourty in particular – did a great job keeping Adam Thielen under control in the first half with just one target and zero catches in the first 29:45.
A little stop-and-go by Adam Thielen got him loose between the McCourty twins early in the second half but he wasn’t able to finish off a diving catch on one of the rare downfield throws by Kirk Cousins.
HORRIBLE SONG CHOICE
One of the worst songs ever made, Slade’s Run Runaway, was played in the third quarter. No reason for it.
Stephen Gostkowski almost hit the damn light tower with a missed field goal attempt in the third quarter.
JUST A BRUISE
Rob Gronkowski took a solid shot in the thigh while making a catch down the seam. It was a precarious position for him to be in but, after leaving the field briefly, he came back out and played well the rest of the way
Josh Gordon, who had a silent first half, erupted with three catches for 58 yards in the second half, two of them were 24-yarders on the same drive and the latter one was a touchdown.
J.C. JUST FINE
Rookie corner J.C. Jackson was challenged again and again by Kirk Cousins and held up – twice on throws directed to Adam Thielen and Aldrick Robinson in the third quarter and later in the fourth on a throw to Laquon Treadwell which was picked on the ricochet by Duron Harmon.
AN EVENTFUL FEW MINUTES
With the Vikings try to scratch away at a 24-10 deficit, Dalvin Cook took a handoff on third-and-1, ran around for quite some time and was tackled for no gain. The Vikings then ran Latavius Murray at the middle of the line and he most definitely did not reach the line-to-gain but the officials granted Minny a first down. The Patriots dallied a bit as Patrick Chung came up injured then challenged the call. Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen got lippy with Bill Belichick who instructed Thielen to shut the f--- up. He didn’t. And the Vikings won the challenge. But Thielen dropped the next pass he saw.