After a crazy week in the NFL, with team facilities closing all over the place and games being rescheduled, the pandemic has now taken even our favorite Sunday sport. With last week’s game against Kansas City being moved to Monday night, the team was without new stud quarterback Cam Newton. Despite these odds, the team played well enough against the defending champs to compete all the way to the end. Great play from the defense kept them in it for all four quarters, the key difference being costly turnovers from the offense and mixed play from veteran Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, who has had limited action, is ultimately what cost New England the win. It was our first time seeing Stidham in a game since he came in against the Jets for a few snaps last year, and the kid has shown growth as he connected with second year man N’Keal Harry on a fade route in the corner of the end zone. That, and the play from second year man Damian Harris out of the backfield, showed some positives for the Patriots as Bill Belichick let the back from Alabama show off what Patriot fans have been missing.
Following the loss to Kansas City, the team was due to play the Denver Broncos at Gillette this past Sunday, but COVID had other plans. The 2019 defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore, had been diagnosed with COVID in the days following the loss. Images surfaced of Gilmore greeting star quarterback Patrick Mahomes after the game, causing personnel around the league to worry about how far this could spread. Thankfully, no positive tests were found in Kansas City and the team did not have to postpone their game last week against Las Vegas, since they ended up losing at home to the Raiders for the first time in years. Back in New England, the team had decided to take things day by day, working remotely and canceling practice. It wasn’t decided until last Friday that the game against Denver would be moved to this weekend, leaving players out West in the Mile High City frustrated, as they had been prepping to travel coast to coast week and this uncertainty was frustrating.
Regardless, the two teams had their bye weeks moved to this past week, and will (hopefully) be taking the field this Sunday for a 1pm kick off against Foxborough. After being isolated and away from the team for over a week, Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore were able to return to practice on Thursday with a clean bill of health. This means that the two stars are slated to play on Sunday, giving the team a much-needed boost on both sides of the ball. The lack of scrambling ability and clock management is what shot the team in the foot last week, and the team will be looking to bounce back against the Denver team, who might possibly be sporting a shortened backfield. This is due to the fact that Melvin Gordan might be out for personal reasons, leaving Philip Lindsay to get the bulk of the reps as he comes back from a week one toe injury. Drew Lock, the solid second year man from Missouri, is on pace to come back after injuring his shoulder in a week 2 loss to the Steelers.
On Friday it was revealed that a positive test was found on the New England side and the team had to cancel all practice actives for the day. Denver is traveling today and will leave a little later than normal with the news. At this point we can hope the game is kicked off in time but the teams already had to use their bye week to adjust to last weeks test results. This puts the NFL in another tough spot as we hope things kick off in time. In response to Friday’s events the team has placed James Ferentz, Sony Michel, Shaq Mason, and Derek Rivers on the COIVD list.
This should be a good one on a fall afternoon at Gillette, because when these two get together it’s always a good 60 minutes. Here’s hoping that with Cam back running the offense, the team can bounce back as they get healthy.