Jimmy Garoppolo joined Drew Bledsoe as only the second former Patriots quarterback to beat his old coach Sunday, leading the 49ers to a thunderous 33-6 win over Bill Belichick and New England at Gillette Stadium.
It was an all-around miserable afternoon for the Patriots, who never had a lead and couldn’t get any closer than 17 points in the second half. Cam Newton was 9-for-15 for 98 yards and three interceptions. Jarrett Stidham replaced Newton early in the fourth quarter, and finished for 6 for 10 with 64 yards and an interception and a sack.
As for Garoppolo, he wasn’t necessarily overwhelming, but was more than efficient in leading the Niners to their second consecutive win.
The Patriots could blame last week’s sloppy performance against the Broncos on a rash of injuries and a lack of practice time. This week was another matter. They were set up for success, with a regular week of preparation and veteran offensive linemen David Andrews and Shaq Mason back in the lineup.
But that certainly didn’t help. The Patriots, who lost their third straight — the longest losing streak for the franchise since the 2002 team suffered four losses in a row — were never in the contest, especially after a 16-3 second-quarter run that turned a 7-3 contest into a 23-3 blowout at halftime.
The lone bright spot might have been kicker Nick Folk, who booted field goals from 40 and 41 yards. But the Patriots’ offense, which was shut out in the first quarter for the sixth consecutive game, was unable to get much of anything going all afternoon long.
The defense wasn’t any better. San Francisco didn’t punt until late in the fourth quarter, and at halftime, had more first downs than New England had total offensive plays. The Niners averaged more than seven yards a play, and had roughly a two-to-one edge when it came to time of possession.
Here’s how the game unfolded:
7:03 p.m.: Julian Edelman got his first catch of the game, on a 13-yard pass from Stidham on the first play after the two-minute warning.
6:41 p.m.: Jarrett Stidham leads the offense onto the field with 13:20 remaining in the game.
6:37 p.m.: The 32-yard field goal from Gould makes it 33-6 with 13:37 to go in regulation.
6:34 p.m.: What you’re looking for in moments like this? Young guys who continue to play hard. One of my favorite takeaways from that 2014 blowout against Kansas City was the sight of some younger guys like Garoppolo playing hard in the fourth quarter. It certainly looks like there are going to be some younger players — like Stidham — who are going to get some significant snaps here in the fourth quarter. We saw it from Dalton Keene at the end of the third. Watch how they respond to their time. How do they respond to the opportunity? Are they prepared? Do they know their assignments? What’s their compete level? All things worth considering now that the game appears to be out of reach.
6:28 p.m.: Do you go with Stidham at this point? It’s 30-6 late in the third.
6:27 p.m.: A miserable afternoon for the Patriots continues as Cam Newton sees a tipped ball go for an interception, his third of the day. It’s 30-6 with 4:47 to go in the third quarter, and ends a drive that sparked a little optimism (and included the first career catch for rookie tight end Dalton Keene). But the Niners will get the ball back at their own 31-yard line.
6:22 p.m.: You want to know how things could get worse for the Patriots? Joe Thuney has apparently been taken to the locker room. Thuney had a 13-game streak where he had played every snap of every contest coming into this afternoon.
6:17 p.m.: This is really something new. We’ve seen the offense struggle here over the last year-plus, but this is the first time in a long time I can recall seeing the New England defense get shoved around at home. The Niners punched another one in with 7:32 to go in the first half, and now it’s 30-6, San Francisco. The Patriots are being dominated up front, as the Niners’ offensive line has spent two-plus quarters shoving New England around the field. Garoppolo has been good, but it’s the San Francisco run game that’s made the difference. The Patriots have no answers right now.
6:12 p.m.: Worth keeping an eye on.
Julian Edelman has a 91-game streak with at least 1 catch.
Currently zero targets, 10+ min left 3Q
Last regular-season game without a grab: Nov. 18, 2012
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) October 25, 2020
6:08 p.m.: They got three, but with this sort of second-half deficit, field goals aren’t going to get it done. Folk connects on the 41-yarder, and it’s 2-65 with 10:48 to go in the third quarter. There was a bit of an offensive spark there from the Patriots, but now, they need to build on it from this point. A stop and another score here would be an excellent place to start if you are New England.
N’Keal Harry (head) has been downgraded to out. https://t.co/hNsaelOIxH
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 25, 2020
5:50 p.m.: Two quarters are in the books in Foxborough, and the Niners are up, 23-3. Here are a few notes:
Cam Newton: 4-for-8, 30 yards, two interceptions.
Newton: 3 carries, 12 yards
Jakobi Meyers: 1 catch, 20 yards
Jimmy Garoppolo: 14-for-19, 181 yards, 2 interceptions
Deebo Samuel: 4 catches, 59 yards
Jeff Wilson: 14 carries, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns
•There have been worst offensive first halves for the Patriots over the last 20 or so years I’ve covered the team, but right now, I’m hard pressed to recall them. (Miami in 2002 and New Orleans in 2009 come to mind.) Not sure there was much good at all for the New England offense the first two quarters — even when the Patriots were gifted with semi-decent field position following Devin McCourty’s early interception, they couldn’t do anything more than settle for a field goal. You could blame last week on injury and lack of practice time. This week? They were set up for success, with a regular week of preparation at home, and the fact that the likes of David Andrews and Shaq Mason were back in the lineup. It hasn’t shown up over the first two quarters.
•N’Keal Harry suffered a head injury in the first quarter, and is questionable to return. It’s forced the Patriots to rely on their depth at a position where they were already perilously thin, at least when you’re talking about NFL-ready receivers.
•None of this is to suggest that the defense should be let off the hook. The Niners didn’t punt over the first two quarters. San Francisco had more first downs (18) than total plays run by the New England offense (16). San Francisco had 301 net yards, 127 on the ground. Garoppolo certainly wasn’t overwhelming statistically, but was efficient with his decision-making, and played a sizable role in helping jump-start what is looking more and more like a blowout.
•One thing that might comfort fans? The last time the Niners were in Foxborough, Colin Kaepernick and his team took a 31-3 lead through the first two-plus quarters, but had to hold on as the Patriots mounted a furious comeback that fell just short. Maybe this New England team has that sort of oomph left in them this afternoon? We’ll see.
The Patriots will get the ball to start the second half.
5:46 p.m.: The interception was ugly, but the thing that should really concern you was how far back downfield the defensive back returned that one. Not feeling good about anything right now.
5:40 p.m.: Put another one on the board. Just a miserable start for New England. It’s 23-3 with less than a minute to go in the half.
5:29 p.m.: No offensive rhythm at all. Poor throws from the quarterback, not enough time in the pocket, and sloppy ball security (Jakob Johnson’s near fumble). Just a mess right now for the Patriots’ offense. The defense is being asked to shoulder far too much of the burden at this point. It’s 16-3 with 4:42 to go in the first half.
5:25 p.m.: Juszczyk goes up the middle to punch it in, and it’s 16-3 (the extra point was no good) with 6:23 to go in the half. Not sure what else there is to say at this point — the Patriots’ offense can’t stay on field, and the defense hasn’t slowed the Niners, especially the running game.
5:22 p.m.: Not good.
Lawrence Guy, New England’s top interior lineman, is clutching his left leg as he’s attended to by medical staff. #Patriots
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) October 25, 2020
5:18 p.m.: The Niners have more first downs (12) than Patriots have offensive plays (11) with 8:13 to go in the half.
5:15 p.m.: Newton’s fifth interception of the season gives San Francisco great field position — New England’s 38-yard line. We’re suddenly looking at a very critical stretch for both teams — a touchdown could really give the Niners an early hammerlock on this one. Meanwhile, the New England defense needs to hold San Francisco to a field goal or less here. It’s 10-3 with 8:46 to go in the half.
5:10 p.m.: I’m broad-brushing it here, but the Niners are doing some of the things that made the Patriots’ offense successful in the first few games of the season — namely, controlling the clock and the tempo and keeping the opposing defense on the field as long as possible. (San Francisco has scoring drives of nine and 10 plays, respectively.) The red-zone defense has been good for New England, but the Niners have a nice edge when it comes to time of possession — 16 to 5 through the first 21 minutes of the game — which had led to their early 10-3 lead with nine minutes to go in the half.
5:06 p.m.: Man, Juszczyk delivered a great hit on Jones there on that run. Just a crushing block as part of a nice response drive for the Niners.
5:00 p.m.: The 40-yard field goal from Folk makes it 7-3 with 14:56 left in the first half. Decent drive for the Patriots — it’s better to get some points than none at all. Six plays, 30 yards, and three points.
4:58 p.m.: The Patriots are on the move here as the first quarter comes to a close, but the opening frame ends with another scoreless stretch for New England. Newton has three carries for 13 yards, and is 2-for-3 for 9 yards passing. It’s fourth and 6 at the San Francisco 22 — the Patriots should get at least three here after Devin McCourty’s 28th career interception.
4:51 p.m.: Pick by Devin McCourty sets up the Patriots nicely — the first takeaway of the day for New England. The personal foul pushes them back a bit, but let’s see if the Patriots’ offense can take advantage and put some points on the board. It’s 7-0 Niners with 2:02 to go in the first quarter.
4:43 p.m.: Niners get the ball back with 7:12 to go in the first quarter. Newton went 2-2 for 9 yards on that first series — which was juiced by a little uptempo — but in the end, Jake Bailey ended up punting it away. The defense is back on the field.
4:34 p.m.: No shock there — as we told you in Friday’s “Point After,” the Niners are one of the best first-quarter teams in the league. Steady drive for Garoppolo and San Francisco, which faced just one third down on the series. Deebo Samuel is so good in space, and he showed that on the first drive with a pair of catches for 37 yards. The Patriots need to answer — they haven’t scored an offensive point in the first quarter all season. They can’t afford to dig themselves too big a hole in the early going.
4:25 p.m.: New England wins the toss and defers. Jimmy Garpoolo gets the ball first. Time for the foosball!
4:20 p.m.: The only former Patriots quarterback who left New England who came back to beat Bill Belichick? Drew Bledsoe, in the 2003 opener.
Patriots weapons vs. 49ers:
WR: Edelman, Harry, Byrd, Meyers, Olszewski
RB: Harris, White, Burkhead
TE: Izzo, Keane
TE Dalton Keene gets his season debut as Devin Asiasi sits. And Patriots get their offensive line back. Should be a heavy run day.
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 25, 2020
3:55 p.m.: The Patriots are favored by three this afternoon, and the over-under sits at 44.5 (both via Odds Shark). At this point, with the return of Andrews and Mason — and a full week of practice under their belts — New England looks good to cover. The biggest key for the Patriots this afternoon? Getting the offense going in the early going. New England doesn’t have a single first-quarter offensive point this season, a remarkable stat that goes a long way toward explaining its losses to the Seahawks and Broncos. The Patriots need to execute early on offense — if they can do that, they’ll cover. My guess is that they’ll pull it off. I’m saying New England 28, San Francisco 21.
Jimmy G pic.twitter.com/gnPoojmCYm
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) October 25, 2020
3:38 p.m.: Excited to see what Dalton Keene might be capable of today. I wrote about him, post-draft, here. Still believe that in a regular year, there’s the possibility he could become a cult hero in New England for a few reasons, not the least of which is because of this quote from his college position coach.
“He takes great pride in being a tough guy,” said Virginia Tech tight ends coach James Shibest. “Everybody called him ‘Rambo’ because of how his body looked, how physical he plays, how that weight room is important to him. He’s gotten our whole sideline jacked up several times running over people — he ain’t looking to dodge anybody. And, of course, he had the long hair too (as a freshman and sophomore), so he really did look like a young Rambo.”
3:30 p.m.: Good late October, football weather this afternoon in Foxborough. According to our pals at weather.com, temps will be in the high 40s with a slight wind, but no chance of precipitation. (Nothing like Denver.) It’s getting colder, but we’re still waiting on our first weather game of the season.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 25, 2020
3:24 p.m.: Thinking about a bunch of different possibilities along the offensive line, and this one might make the most sense (left to right: Wynn, Thuney, Andrews, Mason, Onewenu or Herron (I’m guessing more the former than the latter at right tackle, but we’ll see). It would mark the fifth different OL combo in six games for New England. A good group either way, and certainly an upgrade over the last couple of weeks.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) October 25, 2020
3:15 p.m.: It’s impossible to overstate just how important the return of David Andrews and Shaq Mason is to the success of the offensive line, and the offense in general. I wrote about some of Andrews’ impact here in Friday’s edition of Point After (subscribe to PA here), but his presence in the lineup is massive, and should create a ripple effect that will impact almost every layer of the New England offense. That doesn’t mean we’re sleeping on Mason — particularly when it comes to the run game — but with both of them back, and a full week of practice, does a lot to set them up for success this week against San Francisco.
3:02 p.m.: The Patriots have announced their inactive. Here’s the list, and here’s what it means:
Defensive tackle Carl Davis: Ruled out earlier this week because of a concussion.
Defensive back Kyle Dugger: The rookie safety was limited in practice all week with an ankle issue, and listed as questionable for the game on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots replace him in the lineup — he’s been an impactful defender in the early stages of his career.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer: The veteran takes his second consecutive healthy scratch — youngster Jarrett Stidham will serve as the primary backup to Cam Newton.
Running back J.J. Taylor: The mighty-mite takes another healthy scratch. I’m a Taylor fan — he provided an offensive boost against the Raiders and Dolphins earlier in the season when things were lagging a bit. The thinking is that Damien Harris has taken many of his reps at this point, but the Patriots are also pretty deep at running back, so the rookie is fundamentally the odd man out at this point.
Tight end Devin Asiasi: The rookie is a healthy scratch. It does, however, give fellow rookie Dalton Keene the chance to possibly see his first action of the 2020 season.
Defensive back Myles Bryant: Another healthy scratch — like Taylor at running back, a simple victim of personnel, as the Patriots are fairly deep in the secondary as well.
As for who is good to go, this week will mark the return of center David Andrews (hand) and guard Shaq Mason (calf). Their presence up front should provide a big boost for the New England offensive line, and the offense as a whole. In addition, Keene, who has been inactive for the first five weeks of the season, is available for the first time this afternoon, giving some additional depth at the tight end spot.
3:00 p.m.: Welcome back to football! The Patriots and Niners will square off Sunday at 4:25, with Cam Newton going against old pal Jimmy Garoppolo. Keep it here all afternoon long for the latest from Foxborough, with weather updates, betting news, inactive analysis (which should be along shortly), and a whole lot more. But we’ll kick things off with our pregame reading list:
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