AFC East Japan Reporter
In a brutal low-scoring game, New England Patriots returner Marcus Jones punted back 84 yards for a touchdown with five seconds remaining. Bill Belichick’s team defeated Robert Saleh’s New York Jets, 10-3.
Perhaps knowing how well Jones had come back in college, the Jets seemed happy to have punted the ball out of bounds on their previous two punts. , New York gave Jones a chance at the last minute. And he made the most of it.
touch down. Game over. New England only had to start it to kill seconds remaining.
For some reason, the Patriots should be happy with their Week 11 win over the Jets. That doesn’t mean the Patriots didn’t accomplish a few things along the way.
In fact, Belichick seems to threaten what he always does. Push to the second half for the playoffs. Even without a lot of talent on this roster, Belichick is currently 6-4, and in the last six games he’s won five, it looks like he’s turning his team into a contender.
Quarterback Mack Jones looked the best he’s seen all year despite a rowdy play call from Matt Patricia. And the defense looked its best all year despite fairly controlled play from Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. But instead of pushing the ball downfield and abandoning it, Wilson consistently checked it down.
It was the opposite of a quarterback duel. It wasn’t a shootout between passers-by, it was a game of chicken as to which of his QBs would wince first. A QB that throws a game-shattering interception? Or coughs up a brutal fumble? Wilson almost had a couple of turnovers, but mostly. He didn’t record anything on the stat sheets, so the Patriots needed points from special teams to end this.
Jones finished the game 26-for-23 for 246 yards and finished with six sacks for both touchdowns and interceptions. Wilson was 9-of-22 for 77 yards and 3 carries for 26 yards. He had three sacks and no touchdowns.
The game seemed like a farce at times. The Jets, for example, only produced six first downs. They had a two-year total attack in the second half. They punted 10 times. And that’s ignoring all re-kicks. Because of the penalty, the Jets had to attempt three consecutive punts. (Then, later in the game, they had to try another punt twice.)
It was as thrilling as it sounds.
But let’s get back to the good things. New He is a quest for an English identity. The Patriots’ defense was sensational as the scoreline indicates. No, the Jets aren’t his best offense in the NFL, but he averaged 21.8 points per game heading into this game. It was an achievement for New England to completely eliminate all sims of the New York offense. Edge rusher Matthew Judon led the way with two sacks. He’s already set a new career record of 13.5 for him in a season and should be a front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
But that’s what you’d expect from a New England defense. They were destined to shut down Wilson — perhaps even more sales into the mix.What was unexpected was his QB Jones’ clean performance against the New York defense.
That’s the defense that stole two interceptions from Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in Week 9. And before that, the Jets forced Jones to intercept.
It was clear that if Jones was to regain favor with the Patriots organization, he had to start playing smart, turnover-free football, even against the NFL’s best defense. That’s what he did on Sunday. He was also efficient in his rookie season, with his 85% completion rate.
Of course, Jones was supposed to take a step forward with this offense. He was supposed to evolve as a downfield passer. And then something worse happened. It became easier for him to leave his job. He fell back, having only two touchdowns against five interceptions in the first four weeks of the season. For Jones to move forward, he needed to regain at least the playing ability of his rookie season. And that’s what he did to the Jets. Frankly, his playcaller Matt Patricia continued to struggle.
On the one hand, he implemented a successful formation: a full house. Patricia put tight ends (Hunter Henry and Johnne Smith) in the backfield and made running backs. That helped open the run game and play action game. Smith managed receptions 26 yards out of that formation. Damien Harris managed a 30-yard carry. These two plays of his were the longest plays in the game from scrimmage. And that made life easier for Jones.
But meanwhile, in the 4th and 3rd of the 3rd quarter, Patricia executed a shotgun handoff in an outside zone-style blocking scheme. Why did he hope one of the most important downs of the season would work?
Then there was a problematic offensive sequence near the two-minute caution when the Patriots got an eight-yard pickup on first down. performed a QB sneak reserved for And they got a yard. I mean, on the third and one, they sure did perform another QB sneak, right? ! Wrong! They suffered a 2-yard loss on a run by Ramondre Stevenson. And they had to punt.
Warts aside, the Patriots may finally have something in store.In an NFL struggling to score points throughout the league, New England may have found a winning recipe that works. No. There is still uncertainty. But if the Patriots want a real test, it’s the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s see if Belichick’s identity works for him on Thanksgiving night against one of the NFL’s truly elite teams.
Prior to joining FOX Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter. @ Macken analysis.
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