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Patriots still undefeated after late field goal

This time, the Patriots found a way to break the New York Giants' heart. Stephen Gostkowski hit a game-winning field goal to beat the Giants 27-26 in another classic between these teams. Here's what we learned:

  1. Facing fourth-and-10 at his own 20-yard line with no timeouts and 88 seconds left, Tom Brady needed a completion to keep the Patriots season unblemished at 9-0. He found Danny Amendola on that play, and two more key times on the team's game-winning field goal drive. This was not Brady's best game of the season. He was picked off at the goal line with under five minutes left and was lucky not to be picked off to start the final.

Yet this was still a vintage Brady performance, reminscent of his early championship performances. The Patriots won without Dion Lewis, their top two tackles, and Julian Edelman, who left with a foot injury early in the game. New England trailed by 10 points in the third quarter and trailed two different times in the fourth quarter. And Brady just found a way to get it done on a game-winning field goal drive. The only thing different is that Stephen Gostkowski is now the NFL's best kicker instead of Adam Vinatieri.

  1. Eli Manning deserved a better fate. He had a career high 251 yards in the first half and did a masterful job picking on the weak spots of the Patriots secondary. The Giants looked like the better team for much of the day, and Manning's willingness to go down the field paid off. We can't completely kill Tom Coughlin for throwing the ball late instead of burning clock because he was trying to let his best players win the game. 
  1. Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty combined to give up a 87-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham on the Giants' first play from scrimmage. (McCourty seemed most at fault for letting that play go long.) After that, Butler put together one of the best performances by a cornerback we've seen all season. Butler took Beckham in press man coverage all game and only gave up three more catches for 17 yards on 11 more targets. His quick hands knocked a potential game-winning score out of Beckham's hands.
  1. We are going to have another week of conversation on the "catch" rule. Beckham appeared to catch a touchdown to put the Giants up 29-24 with just over two minutes left, but Butler knocked the ball out before Beckham got both feet down and completed the catch. It was ruled a touchdown initially, but overruled on review. It appeared to be the right interpretation of an endlessly confusing rule.
  1. Danny Amendola continues to make massive plays for the Patriots. His fourth-and-10 catch kept the game alive. And then his run after the catch after Brady's last play of the game. Amendola wound up with 10 grabs for 79 yards and will be used a ton if Edelman's injury is serious.
  1. Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack wiped out by penalty, but he did a solid job in his second game back. The Giants pass rush as a group was effective with five QB hits, three sacks and a ton of pressures on Brady.
  1. This was the best game of the NFL season. The last five minutes alone had tons of game-changing swings, including a LeGarrette Blount touchdown that was called back by penalty before Brady's interception. It had the longest touchdown given up in the Belichick era to Beckham and the longest career touchdown by Rob Gronkowski, a 76-yarder. All five Brady starts against the Giants have been classics. We might not get another one.
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