Patriots-Lions takeaways: Defense, run game dominate in shutout win


The Patriots and Detroit Lions entered Week 5 with identical 1-3 records, but New England left little doubt as to who was the better team.

The Patriots dominated the Lions Sunday at Gillette Stadium, blanking the NFL's top-scoring offense while getting five Nick Folk field goals in a 29-0 rout.

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Detroit had 312 yards of total offense but became the first team in NFL history to go 0-for-6 on fourth down, as New England's defense made key stops when it needed to in a dominating performance.

Here are our takeaways from an impressive Week 5 Patriots victory that moves the team to 2-3 ahead of next Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Matt Judon is a game-wrecker

Matt Judon apparently didn't get the message that the Lions had the league's No. 1 offense.

Judon was all over the field, sacking Detroit quarterback Jared Goff twice and changing the complexion of the game in the second quarter with a strip sack that led to Kyle Dugger's 59-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Judon now has six sacks, the most of any player in Patriots history through five games. He consistently won one-on-one matchups with Lions offensive tackles Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker to put pressure on Goff and prevent the Lions from gaining any offensive momentum.

Bailey Zappe holds his own in first NFL start

It's only a seven-quarter sample size, but Bailey Zappe has proven he's a more-than-serviceable NFL backup.

New England's third-string quarterback displayed impressive poise in his second NFL game and first start, completing 17 of 21 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception to finish with a 100.0 passer rating.

Zappe's lone interception came on a ball that Nelson Agholor should have caught, and his TD pass was a well-placed strike to Jakobi Meyers for 24 yards.

The Patriots' offensive operation wasn't exactly stellar, and the unit committed a few mental mistakes throughout the day. 

For the most part, though, Zappe appeared to have command of the offense for the second straight game after taking over in the first quarter of Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers.

Mac Jones' status for Week 6 is unclear as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. But if Zappe has to start again versus the Browns, the Patriots should feel a lot more comfortable after watching his effort Sunday.

Rhamondre Stevenson puts the offense on his back

While Zappe deserves praise for his poise, Rhamondre Stevenson was the Patriots' offensive star. The second-year running back was an absolute workhorse, racking up a career-high 161 rushing yards on 25 carries.

Stevenson delivered the highlight of the day for New England's offense in the first quarter, a 49-yard rumble that set up a Folk field goal.

Damien Harris exited in the first half due to a hamstring injury, leaving Stevenson to shoulder a heavy load. He was certainly up to the task, helping Zappe tremendously with his production in the ground game.

Jack Jones walks the walk

Jack Jones made some pretty bold comments after his pick-six of Aaron Rodgers last Sunday -- some might say too bold. But the Patriots rookie cornerback continues to deliver on the field.

Jones recorded his second interception in as many games Sunday in the first quarter, making a tremendous leaping grab near the sideline to pick off a Goff pass in the red zone.

The Patriots' fourth-round pick is quickly establishing himself as a shutdown corner opposite Jonathan Jones, seemingly vaulting Jalen Mills in an outside cornerback role. That's a terrific development for a New England team that has leaned on strong secondary play over the past several years.

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