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Patriots Notebook: Gilmore, Pass D, Special Teams and our Pro Bowl Picks

This felt a lot like the Washington game. Bengals hit a big play, kept it close in the first half and couldn’t hang in the second half. But why would they want to? Cincinnati came into this game 3 losses away from drafting Heisman winner Joe Burrow. True a win against the Patriots would prove to be the greatest moment in team history since winning the AFC championship in 1988, long term it wouldn’t be worth it if it potentially cost them a franchise QB.

There was no point in the Bengals winning, but that’s not why Andy Dalton threw 4 picks.

No, Andy Dalton threw 4 picks because:

1. Stephon Gilmore is the defensive player of the year.

2. It looked like Andy Dalton was being scouted by a team he didn’t want to play for.

My only worry heading into Sunday was that the Bengals had looked like an NFL team the last two weeks with the Red Rifle back under center. But I needn’t worry very long.

I want to talk about Gilmore as I’m not sure I could be more impressed with an interception than I was with his first one today. #24 had the receiver locked down, one arm behind the guy and calmly picks the ball off with the other. I was still buzzing off of this play, touting him on Twitter as DPOY (@SterlingPingree) when Gilmore picked off another Dalton pass, calmly taking it to the house.

We are watching something special right now, a magical playmaker in the secondary we have only seen a couple of times in the past from guys like Ty Law and Mike Haynes. Both are Hall of Fame members. Remember almost three years ago when there were Patriots fans who were upset with the signing of Gilmore because it meant we wouldn’t be able to re-sign Malcolm Butler?

Yeah, me neither.

Special teams did it again. The offense was stagnating again when old reliable Matthew Slater made something happen and even though the Patriots could only cash in a field goal this was the turning point, as big plays on special teams often are. I found it fitting that Slater stripped the return man and Justin Bethel recovered the ball. Two guys who are dedicated special teamers are paying dividends for this team.

Pro Bowl rosters are announced on Tuesday who will make it from the Patriots?

My guess:

Stephon Gilmore

Devin McCourty

Kyle Van Noy

Jamie Collins

Matthew Slater

Maybe Dont’a Hightower

Oddly enough (or not) I think the offense gets shut out.

Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels said this week that he wanted to find more ways to get the ball into N’Keal Harry’s hands. McD got Harry involved early without him catching a pass by using a jet sweep and a reverse. The offense needs a playmaker outside of James White (Edelman is beyond beat up these days) could Harry provide that?

Tom Brady threw 2 touchdown passes Sunday to move into second place all time, just one behind Peyton Manning. Drew Brees goes into Monday Night Football two behind Manning. It felt like today was Brady’s chance to own at least a share of the record. I think Brees will break 539 tonight. BUT, next week the Patriots play Buffalo on Saturday, so as these two legends trade places back and forth, Brady could take the record back next week once again playing a day before the Saints. (A reminder that If N’Keal Harry’s touchdown vs KC last week was called correctly, Brady would be tied for the record right now.)

Speaking of which, has to be some edge for the Patriots playing earlier today in Cincinnati while the Bills had to play Sunday night in Pittsburgh. A short week for both teams, but a even shorter for the Bills, especially when you factor in they also have to travel to New England on Friday.

Saturday football on tap this week as the Patriots welcome in Buffalo with a chance to win the division for the 17th time in 19 seasons. The Patriots last hosted the Bills on a Saturday on December 27, 2003 when New England shut out the Bills 31-0 in week 17 to avenge their opening day loss by the same score.



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