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Stock Watch: Patriots running backs come up big

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LANDOVER, Md. - The Patriots improved to a perfect 5-0 record on Sunday by defeating the Redskins 33-7. Offensively, it was the tale of two halves as Tom Brady and the Patriots looked uncomfortable for the first thirty minutes but adjusted well in the second half. Here’s what we can take away from today’s win.

STOCK UP

1. Jake Bailey - The rookie has a rocket leg. Once again, Bailey had an outstanding punting day to help a Patriots team that saw its fair share of offensive struggles. Bailey put the ball deep in Redskins territory giving the Patriots defense plenty of room to work with. Bailey averaged over 47 yards on six punts. His longest punt went 57 yards. In addition to his punting duties, today was the first time Bailey handled the kickoff role. This wasn’t totally foreign for Bailey. At times, the rookie handled kickoffs during the preseason, but today was a first for Bailey during the regular season. He kicked off seven times and each was a touchback.

2. Brandon Bolden - The veteran running back found his way into the end zone. In the third quarter, as pressure was coming Brady’s way, he saw Bolden down the right sideline. The duo connected for a 29-yard touchdown. It marked Bolden’s second touchdown of the season. Bolden provided a much needed spark for a Patriots offense that was struggling early on.

3. Sony Michel - The second year running back played his best game of the 2019 season. Many were beginning to wonder if we would ever see Michel’s ability to catch passes. Today, we saw it. The running back caught three passes for 32 yards while rushing 91 yards on 16 attempts.

4. Defense - Yet another impressive defensive effort for the Patriots. They held the Redskins to just one touchdown. After missing last week with a right shoulder injury, Dont’a Hightower returned to game action and didn’t miss a beat. He had five tackles and 1.5 sacks on the afternoon. While the Patriots defense was still dominant without Hightower, his presence was noticed against the Redskins. Jamie Collins had another great day adding three tackles and a sack. Jason McCourty had his first interception of the season. It’s difficult to find a defensive player that did not contribute. The defense had six sacks on the day.

5. Patriots fans - Patriots Nation showed up today and dominated the home crowd. At one point during the game, “Brady” chants erupted from the crowd. Though this game was away from Gillette, it seemed like the Patriots had the home field advantage.

STOCK DOWN

1. First half offense - At the end of the first half, Jason McCourty intercepted Colt McCoy to put the Patriots offense at the 11 yard line in Redskins territory with 51 seconds on the clock. After three incomplete passes in the red zone, the Patriots had to settle for three. That offensive series perfectly illustrated New England’s struggles in the first half. Brady struggled to connect with receivers. The run game couldn’t get it going. Overall, the first half offense looked sloppy. While the slow start didn’t impact the outcome of the game, it is certainly something the Patriots won’t be able to get away with throughout the season.

2. Offensive line - Sunday was a rough day for the Patriots offensive line. As a unit, they gave up four sacks on the day. Newhouse, who was responsible for two of the sacks, struggled to win his one-on-one matchups.

3. Mike Nugent - The kicker position continues to be a problem for the Patriots. In his Patriots debut, Nugent missed a PAT after the Patriots first touchdown drive. Nugent did however make two field goals for 37 and 23 yards respectively.

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