FOXBORO -- It was late on Thursday when the Boogeymen slipped through a Daniel Jones screen and ruined his night.
To be fair, his night might've already been ruined to that point. The rookie passer for the Giants had already thrown three interceptions and was generally lost as he tried to figure out the Patriots defense as his team fell, 35-14.
But it was still a one-score game with about 8:30 left when the Giants had the ball and an opportunity to tie. Three plays into their drive, New York faced a third-and-nine against the best third-down defense in football. It did not go well for them.
For the second time in the game, linebacker Jamie Collins -- who dubbed his fellow linebackers "the Boogeymen" this season -- sniffed out a screen pass, slipped past a block, and forced running back Jon Hilliman to fumble. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was quickly on the scene to scoop up the football and scramble toward the end zone, diving for the pylon. Initially ruled out of bounds, Van Noy was deemed to have scored upon review.
Following a Mike Nugent extra point, the Patriots had a 28-14 lead and some breathing room on a night when they became so banged up that offensively they struggled to move the football at times against one of the league's worst defenses.
It was another dominant night from the Patriots defense, save for a 65-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Golden Tate. Van Noy had a sack, Collins had three tackles, and Dont'a Hightower had three tackles of his own before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
The only other points the Giants scored came on a strip sack fumble return for a touchdown by Markus Golden.
The Patriots finished with 401 yards of offense and 7.1 yards per pass attempt, but it wasn't an easy haul for them by any means. Opening the game with heavier 22-personnel packages (two backs, two tight ends) and 21-personnel packages (two backs, one tight end), they eventually had to abandon those as tight end Matt LaCosse and fullback Jakob Johnson left the game with injuries.
That left Tom Brady to throw to Julian Edelman, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Ryan Izzo and a series of backs that included James White, Sony Michel and Brandon Bolden.
They made it work, but they got a hand from a defense that looks like it's a threat to score any time it's on the field. Scary.
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