It wasn’t always pretty, but the Patriots went into Atlanta and came away with a 25-0 win over the Falcons Thursday night. They’ve now won five straight games, and are 7-4 on the season.
Defensively it was yet another dominant effort – and the 13th shutout of the Bill Belichick era. Atlanta totaled 165 yards of offense, averaged 3.2 yards per play, and was 2-for-11 on third down.
On the Patriots’ first drive, a pass interference penalty led to their only first down. Jake Bailey punted from just inside Falcons territory, and pinned Atlanta at the 4 yard line. Despite a 17-yard catch-and-run from Jonnu Smith to start the drive, followed by a 21-yard carry from Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots stalled and had to settle for a field goal. That left the score 3-0 after one quarter.
The Patriots’ first drive of the second quarter was more complete. Moving the ball 76 yards in 7 plays, Mac Jones found Nelson Agholor on a drag route, with Agholor running the ball into the end zone from about 15 yards out to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead.
Atlanta managed to pick up a couple of first downs on the ensuing drive, but Matt Ryan was sacked by Kyle Van Noy on third down for a 13-yard loss, setting up a 45-yard field goal. Younghoe Koo hit the kick, but an illegal formation penalty on the Falcons forced him to retry from 50 yards, which he missed.
There wasn’t much of a momentum swing following the miss, with the Patriots punting on their next drive. A Matthew Judon sack saw the Falcons punt the ball right back to the Patriots. With 1:48 to go, Mac Jones completed 5-of-5 passes to pick up 41 yards and get Nick Folk into field goal range. Folk hit from 44-yards out to send the Patriots into halftime with a 13-0 lead.
The second half started with a Falcons punt, followed by a punt from the Patriots, then another from Atlanta. Getting the ball back, the Patriots finally started gaining ground on offense. However AJ Terrell picked off Mac Jones on a first down just as the Patriots crossed into Falcons territory.
A strong running game got the Falcons into the red zone, but on a 4th & 1 Carl Davis led a strong push from the Patriots’ defensive line, stuffing the run. However, the Patriots went three-and-out and punted the ball right back.
Again, the Falcons showed progress as Ryan hit a handful of 10-plus yard throws to close the third quarter down 13-0. Just like Jones though, Ryan faltered as soon as he crossed the 50 throwing a duck right to Devin McCourty.
Third-down sacks were the theme of the game, and Jones would take one as the Patriots got into scoring range. Instead, Folk was called on again and drilled a 53-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 16-0 advantage.
It wouldn’t be long until the offense would get another chance. Three plays into Atlanta’s next drive, J.C. Jackson grabbed a tip-drill INT for his sixth interception of the year. That would turn into another field goal from Folk, making it 19-0.
The Patriots’ defense wasn’t done. Josh Rosen came into the game for the Falcons, and was promptly picked off by Van Noy, who returned it for a touchdown. A missed extra point extended the Patriots lead to 25-0.
But wait, there’s more! Feleipe Franks came into the game for Atlanta, and he was intercepted by Adrian Phillips. That would seal it, as Jones kneeled the game out from there.
Jones finished 22-for-26 for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Agholor was his leading receiver, with five catches for 40 yards and the score. It was also a productive night for Jakobi Meyers (four catches, 39 yards) and Kendrick Bourne (four catches, 42 yards).
On the ground, it was just about an even split between Stevenson and Damien Harris. Stevenson carried the ball 12 times for 69 yards, Harris 10 for 56.
On defense, Van Noy led the way with eight tackles, two sacks, and the pick six. McCourty, Jackson, and Phillips also had interceptions. Davon Godchaux and Judon had sacks – for Judon, he set a new career high with 10.5 on the season.
There’s now 10 days for the Patriots to prepare for their next game, at home against the 8-2 Tennessee Titans. Kickoff next Sunday is at 1 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 10 a.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.