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Unfiltered Notebook 11/18: Patriots special teams earning praise, Brady sees best football ahead for offense

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The Patriots earned their first victory Monday of the season, meaning players are off until Wednesday, giving them some additional time to heal up after securing their ninth win of the season.

The win over the Eagles wasn't an easy one. The defense and special teams once again carried the day, leaving the offense to take advantage of their limited chances. Outside of one long drive to start the second half there wasn't a lot to feel great about, but the Patriots offense did what they always do, hung in there, kept fighting and most importantly, didn't turn the ball over.

"Essentially we had to fight and scratch for some opportunities, and we missed some, but we made enough," said head coach Bill Belichick on a conference call with reporters on Monday morning. "But, they put a lot of pressure in terms of tight man coverage and they obviously have a very good defensive line – one of the best in the league."

17 points isn't always enough to win, but as Tom Brady pointed out in his weekly radio appearance on The Greg Hill Show, it's only about scoring more than the opponent. Sometimes 13 is enough like it was in Super Bowl 53. Sometimes 33 isn't enough like it wasn't in Super Bowl 52.

But games like that are certainly frustrating for Brady.

"I think I'm always generally frustrated during football season," said Brady. "I think it's very unique. So yeah, I was very happy we won, but just wish we would play better offensively. We gotta go do it. I don't think it's about talking about it. It's trying to get the best we can out of our offense, trying to be more productive and score more points."

The margin for error is higher this year than it might've been in the past because of the defense. The Boogeymen got back on track and dictated most of the game after surrendering a long first quarter scoring drive. After that it was lights out for the Eagles offense and that gave the offense the cushion they needed.

But the underrated aspect of the 2019 Pats has been the special teams, led by rookie punter Jake Bailey who was called upon to punt eight times, flipping field position and pinning the Eagles inside their own 15 yard line five times, including three times inside their own 10. Meanwhile, Nick Folk, just signed a couple weeks ago, was once again perfect with three field goals and an extra point.

"We had good field position for the most part with our kicking game and our punting game," said Belichick. "So, that helps out a lot defensively, which resulted in not very many scoring opportunities for the Eagles. That was kind of the way that game went. It was kind of an old fashioned, field position game – not a lot of points, not a lot of scoring opportunities.

"Jake did an excellent job for us punting, holding. Kickoffs were – we had one there that he missed, but overall, he’s hit the ball well."

Brady also acknowledged the rookie punter has done an outstanding job all season and that's been a key to helping protect an offense that has struggled to find consistency moving the ball.

"[Bailey's] done such a great job all year," Brady said on WEEI. "Came in and battled through training camp and just has been really an exceptional player for our team. Kicking the ball so well. Our punt coverage, special teams is doing a great job. Nick kicked the ball great yesterday. There were a lot of positives in the kicking game, that's been a real strength of ours."

There's still plenty to figure out on the offensive side of the ball and it's apparent to everyone from Belichick to Brady and all the way down to the fans, but there's no reason to panic just yet.

"Look, we're 9-1 and hopefully we can keep learning and growing," said Brady. "As crazy as it sounds, we're still getting familiar with each other on offense. We're going to have to play our best football as we go forward."

Between Belichick, Brady and the precedent set forth over the last two decades there still no reason to doubt their best football is still ahead of them.

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