NE-NYG Grades: Patriots complete thrilling comeback
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Patriots’ 27-26 victory over the Giants:
New England Patriots
– Super Bowl XLIX hero, CB Malcolm Butler (+3.7), has had a decent season to this point and he was at his best against the Giants, despite drawing primary coverage duties on the daunting Odell Beckham. After his early blunder (exacerbated by safety Devin McCourty) where he let Beckham behind him for an 87-yard score, Butler surrendered just two catches for 5 yards to New York’s top receiver, while getting his hand on three passes.
– DE Jabaal Sheard was limited to 27 snaps in his first action since Week 6, but he didn’t show any rust with positive grades both as a pass rusher (three pressures) and in run defense after notching two stops. Tight end Will Tye (-3.1) had particular trouble blocking Sheard, losing that matchup on multiple plays including at 10:43 of the second quarter and 7:56 of the third.
– Ball security was not Tom Brady’s strongest attribute in this game after two fumbles in the pocket and an interception. And he was incredibly lucky that Landon Collins (-0.2) couldn’t haul in his duck at 1:47 of the fourth, which would have ended any comeback hopes. Otherwise, Brady had a solid game despite shoddy pass protection and losing one of his top targets in Julian Edelman. He instead relied on Danny Amendola with the two connecting on 10 of a season-high 11 targets for 79 yards while grading at +2.2 on passes thrown at intermediate distance.
CB Malcolm Butler (+3.7)
DE Jabaal Sheard (+2.9)
CB Logan Ryan (+2.7)
QB Tom Brady (+1.9)
TE Rob Gronkowski (+1.8)
New York Giants
– A week after making his season debut, Jason Pierre-Paul was the team’s best pass rusher once again, returning to his pre-injury form against a makeshift Patriots line. He amassed seven combined pressures and a batted pass, doing the bulk of his work against LT Cameron Fleming (-0.8), though perhaps his best play of the game came against New England’s right tackle, Brian Stork, at 7:07 of the fourth quarter.
– Another negative game for LT Ereck Flowers, who’s playing as poorly as any first rounder this season. In pass protection he allowed seven combined pressures and at times looked overmatched against Chandler Jones, who picked up three of his pressures against Flowers, the worst of them being a sack-fumble in the second quarter – though it didn’t help that Eli (+0.7) spent more time in the pocket than usual, averaging more than 2.6 seconds there. Flowers didn’t fare much better in the run game after allowing his defender to get in on several defensive stops.
– LB Jasper Brinkley (+4.1) has seen increasing snaps over the last three weeks and it’s paid off for the Giants with the two highest grades of his career coming in his last two games. Both of Brinkley’s stops in run defense required him to defeat a block to get there – the first came at 7:24 of the first to keep LeGarrette Blount out of the end zone. He also added an impressive strip sack to start the fourth quarter, beating the aforementioned Blount in the process.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (+4.8)
LB Jasper Brinkley (+4.1)
DE Robert Ayers (+3.8)
WR Dwayne Harris (+2.3)
CB Trevin Wade (+1.9)