Bill Belichick has made it apparent that he does not like turnovers. After the turnovers by the rookies against the Lions in a preseason game, he benched them. After star running back Steven Ridley’s fumbles on week 1, he benched him for the entirety of the second half. Bill Belichick did not have to bench anybody for turnovers last night, because the Patriots did not commit a single turnover the entire game.
The Patriots offense showed great discipline. They were not able to put up big numbers, but their offense was extremely consistent. They did a great job converting on third downs and in the red-zone, which allowed them to use up a lot of clock and score 30 points, even though they had just 448 total yards.
The Patriots were able to win the game even though they and the Falcons were almost even in every single offensive category. The Patriots had the ball a little longer and the Falcons had a few more yards and more first downs, but there was one noticeable difference in the box score. The Patriots never turned the ball over, whereas the Falcons did once. That +1 turnover differential played a very important part in the Patriots 30-23 win over the Falcons.
The one turnover by the Falcons proved to be very costly. It came on the first play of their drive, when Matt Ryan underthrew a deep ball to Julio Jones that was interception by Aquib Talib (who may be the Patriots MVP in the first four games). The interception came when the Patriots had a 14 point lead midway through the fourth quarter. After the interception, the Patriots were able to get a couple of first downs, kill some clock and eventually kick a field goal to make the score 30-13. This put the Falcons just out of reach. They began to make a comeback after the turnover; they just did not have enough time on the clock (6 minutes and 18 seconds) to force the Patriots into overtime, which obviously cost them the game.
The Patriots defense also showed some tremendous discipline during the game. Even though Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense was very efficient, the defense came up big when they needed to (again). The Patriots held the Falcons to 6-14 on third downs and stopped the Falcons both times they tried to go for it on fourth down. Stopping the Falcons on fourth down was pivotal, since both times the Falcons were inside of the Patriots 20 yard line threatening to score. The defense came up big when they had to, which helped them minimize the high powered Falcons offense to just 23 points this past game.
Offensive and defensive discipline was the reason why the Patriots won the game against the Falcons last night. The Patriots never turned the ball over, and the defense stood tall against the Falcons to prevent them from converting on key downs.
When the Patriots did make a rare mistake, the Falcons took full advantage of them. When the Falcons were able to receive their onside kick, they came back and got a field goal. When the Patriots failed to convert on a fourth down, the Falcons made a run to almost complete a fourth quarter comeback. But because the Patriots showed strong discipline throughout the game, they made it so the Falcons could never get close before it was too late, which is what Bill Belichick wants to see from his team.
If the Patriots minimize mistakes like they did last night, the points will come. The team managed to score thirty points without the help of its two best receivers (Gronkowski and Amendola) because of their efficient play. If they continue to protect the ball like they did last night, expect a lot of wins from this 2013 Patriots team.