Patriots dominate Falcons in Super Bowl rematch
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
With the fog rolling in at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 22 night, the Patriots were clearly in control in a 23-7 triumph.
The Pats authored the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever in February, when they rallied from 28-3 down in the third quarter to beat the Falcons 34-28.
No such heroics were required as they cruised to a 23-0 lead before the Falcons finally found the end zone in the final five minutes of the game.
“It was a great win for our team,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. “Everyone put it together. Our defense played so well and we made enough plays on offense. So it’s a great win against a really good team.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on an 11-yard scoring pass.
Stephen Gostkowski followed with the first of his three field goals before Brady capped the first half with a two-yard touchdown pass to James White that put New England up 17-0 at the break.
It was White’s first touchdown since he scored the game-winning overtime TD in the Super Bowl.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, perhaps feeling the pressure to atone for the team’s championship choke, connected on 22 of 33 passes for 233 yards, his best efforts coming after the game was out of reach.
He piloted a strong drive to open the second half but kicker Matt Bryant missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.
After another Patriots field goal, Ryan marched the Falcons 70 yards in eight plays to reach third down and goal. But they came up empty when the Patriots stopped them on the third and fourth down attempts to take over the ball on downs.
“We knew this team was going to come in here fired up after two straight losses,” said Patriots defensive tackle Malcolm Butler.
“We just had to match their intensity.”
Elsewhere, the Green Bay Packers got a taste of how hard life can be without quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 26-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw his 500th career touchdown to lead New Orleans to a fourth straight victory.