FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — It wasn’t pretty, but the New England Patriots improved to 6-0 with a 35-14 win over the New York Giants on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, thanks to a strong showing by the defense and special teams.
The last time these two rivals met at Gillette Stadium, quarterback Eli Manning led the underdog Giants to a 24-20 upset win during the final minutes in Week 9 of the 2011 season.
Fast forward to 2019, and all Manning could do was sit on the bench as rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was under duress all night by the Patriots’ defense. Jones finished with 161 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
Quarterback Tom Brady added insult to injury in Manning’s case and surpassed his older brother Peyton for second place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list, with 72,257 yards. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the current record holder with 74,845 yards.
Brady finished 31 of 41 for 334 yards and had two rushing touchdowns. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
The depleted Patriots played without running back Rex Burkhead, who missed his second consecutive game with a foot injury.
Veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett, who is also battling a foot injury, was inactive, leaving Brady to mostly connect with Edelman, who finished with eight receptions for 113 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard game, and running back James White, who finished with nine receptions.
Early in the first half, Patriots linebacker John Simon intercepted a Jones pass that was deflected by cornerback Stephon Gilmore. On the ensuing possession, Brady, off a play-action pass intended for Edelman, threw an interception that gave the ball back to the Giants. It was his third consecutive game with an interception.
“We’ve got to avoid giving those kind of big plays up to offset the ones that we make,” said head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots got on the board late in the first quarter when a blocked punt was recovered by rookie defensive end Chase Winovich for a touchdown.
“Any of those defensive or special teams touchdowns are really kind of bonus points. You don’t really think about getting those when you go into the game, so to be able to get 14 of them was huge. That was a big spark,” said Belichick.
Brady led the Patriots offense down the field on a nine-minute drive during the second half but turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth down.
Nursing a 21-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, Jones completed a pass to running back Jon Hilliman, who was hit in the backfield by Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, forcing a fumble. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered and raced 22 yards, stretching the ball over the pylon for the touchdown.
“When you get short weeks like this, it’s a lot of walkthroughs, it’s a lot of meeting time. Especially with this game, we weren’t 100 percent sure what they would do because all year they’ve had a lot of guys missing that were a big part of their offense,” said safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty.
Kicker Mike Nugent missed his only field goal attempt, but connected on all five of his extra-point attempts.
Brady recorded his 212th career regular-season win and was happy to come out on top.
“How do I describe it? Happy we won. Happy to get to 6-0. Yeah, we just grinded it out pretty good. Got kind of forced into one grouping there in the second half. I don’t think that’s ever happened in 20 years, but the defense played great, special teams played great. Outside of a few plays, it would have been pretty good. So, we’re hanging in there.”
The Patriots will travel to face the winless New York Jets on Monday Night on Oct. 21 after 10 days of much-needed rest.