New England Patriots: Week 10 shows why Belichick loves special teams

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 12: Running back Dion Lewis
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 12: Running back Dion Lewis /

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick always puts an emphasis on special teams play, and on Sunday night his team showed us why.

When it comes to special teams there is usually no better team all-around than the New England Patriots. That was proven true once again on Sunday Night Football as they used it to dominate the Denver Broncos.

It started early, as the Patriots received but went 3 and out on their opening drive, on the ensuing punt, the Denver Broncos whiffed and the ball was recovered inside the 25-yard line by Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister. Of course, the Patriots turned that turnover into 7 points and a quick lead in the first quarter. Denver responded with a field goal of their own, but whatever momentum they had did not last long.

On Denver’s kickoff, Brandon McManus sent the ball 3-yards deep into the end zone. Dion Lewis was in to return though, and he chose to run it back. Lewis broke down the near sideline and eluded a few would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone for a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown. That would be a solid night for any special teams unit, but there was even more in store for New England.

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Later in the game, as Denver was finally forced to punt, special teams coach Joe Judge and Bill Belichick chose to insert Rex Burkhead on the punt block team. He came right through the middle inside the left tackle of Denver’s punt team and blocked the punt. The Patriots recovered and had the ball deep in Broncos territory.

Those 3 special teams plays were the 3 biggest plays of the game, and the Patriots clearly won the special teams and field position battle. Stephen Gostkowski was also 2 for 2 on field goals and 5 for 5 on extra points. The Patriots special teams units were perfect for New England, and you know Bill Belichick had to be happy with what he saw. Of course, there is always room for improvement and they’ll look to cut down on the kickoff return yards allowed, but overall this was an A+ game for these units. They likely received a ton of recognition in the locker room after the game, and they will look to build off of this momentum for the rest of the season.

Next: 5 observations from Patriots week 10 win in Denver

The Patriots will now remain in Colorado and practice at the Air Force Academy so that they stay at altitude before their game in Mexico City against the Raiders next Sunday. The balls will be flying just like they do at Mile High, and the Patriots now have the confidence in knowing they can win in that type of environment. Honestly, the Oakland Raiders don’t stand a chance if the New England Patriots play with the same confidence as they did in week 10.