It was never close for the New England Patriots, delivering an old fashioned beat-down of the Jets on Sunday. The Jets first quarter woes continued as the Patriots raced out to a 14-point lead in the opening frame. The 31 points at halftime were a season high for New England, and they had another half remaining. The final score was reflective of what players had been saying all week: we’re better than a 2-4 football team. The problem was, they hadn’t shown it yet. Sure, they’re a handful of plays away from being 6-1, but the good teams in the league make those handfuls of plays.
This edition of the Patriots features a lot of new faces that are learning the New England way. The Belichick idioms of “let the opponent beat themselves” has often seemed to be this team’s mantra. And while the team didn’t need the Jets to make the big crucial mistake, the Pats played relatively mistake free football for 60 minutes Sunday-a huge improvement from the previous 6 games. The final score, 54-13, included the most points a team has scored this season (54) and the largest margin of victory (41), beating the previous mark held by the Bills against the Texans (40).
The Jets are the New England Patriots’ little brother
Sure, it’s the Jets; the Patriots proverbial punching bag for the last two decades. Sunday stretched the streak of consecutive wins against Gang Green to 12 in a row, just three shy of the team record of 15, held against the Bills. But beating the teams you’re supposed to beat is what the good teams do. Just a few weeks ago the Pats had to do everything in their power to escape with a three-point win against the Texans, another team they were supposed to beat.
But on Sunday, it wasn’t enough to just beat the Jets. The Pats wanted to make a statement, get some confidence going, and remind their New York neighbors that they still feature the team’s little brother. The Patriots emptied the play book, calling trick plays like they were down 14 points to the Ravens in the Divisional round. And after pulling the starters late in the fourth, had the backups throwing long balls and racking up points in garbage time.
Read on to find out the positives and negatives of this contest.
Odds and Ends
The opening touchdown, a pass from WR Kendrick Bourne to WR Nelson Agholor, had perfect timing in the game and in history. 20 years ago this week the Pats played in a game that featured one of the single best performances in history. WR David Patten threw for a touchdown, caught a touchdown, and ran in a touchdown in a 38-17 beatdown of the Peyton Manning led Colts.
That pass was Bourne’s first since high school.
Jonnu Smith was having what looked like his breakout game before leaving with an injury late in the first quarter.
If Smith misses time, the Pats may finally utilize last years third round pick; Devin Asiasi. Asiasi has been a healthy scratch through 7 games this year.
The Pats went for it a fourth down! In the second quarter while already up 24-7.
The Patriots offensive line looked solid, helping the rushing game (32 carries for 148 yards and 4 touchdowns). Most importantly, they kept Mac Jones clean, allowing one sack and three quarterback hits.
The Mac Attack Rolls On
Mac Jones now has as many TD passes as Cam Newton did with the Patriots (8).
Mac’s 174 completions are second most all time for a rookie QB. Joe Burrow has the record with 195.
Mac also became the fourth rookie QB all-time to throw for 225 yards and a TD in five consecutive games. The other four? Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, and Deshuan Watson. From a football perspective, great company to keep.
Did Nick Saban and Bill Belichick get together to clone Brady?
Mac now has more completions over 20 yards in the last two games than in the first five games.
Mac, who has been criticized as a checkdown master, threw for 300 yards in his 7th game as a pro. For comparison, rocket-armed Josh Allen threw for 300 yards for the first time in his 28th career game. Perception is not often reality.
New England Patriots Defense Dominates
Jamie Collins only played 16 snaps even with Dont’a Hightower as a gameday inactive.
Harvey Langi started in Hightower’s spot before leaving a with knee injury.
Rookie DT Christian Barmore led all defensive linemen with 41 snaps. He is consistently getting pressure and will see huge numbers once he starts finishing those plays.
With effort like this, Matt Judon is putting himself squarely in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
Little thing that may not have been noticed during the live broadcast. Having solid offensive line play drives offensive success. Often the kind of things that O-linemen must do are small but end up being all the difference.
Jonathan Jones was placed on IR today with his shoulder injury requiring surgery. The Pats had previously elevated Myles Bryant to the active roster, who like Jones, splits time between safety and slot corner. Joejuan Williams played his best game as a pro on Sunday and the Pats will need more of that going forward as DB depth is getting perilously thin. Rookie Shaun Wade hasn’t practiced since week 4 with a concussion.
Popular fan trade target Jason McCourty was also placed on IR today and will require season ending surgery for his foot injury.
What lies ahead for the New England Patriots?
With the trade deadline approaching, three spots that the Pats may try to shore up: defensive back, defensive line, and running back depth. The Pats have just $4 million in cap space, so a blockbuster move seems unlikely. If I were the Pats, I’d call old friend Nick Caserio in Houston and see who they are willing to part with. Plenty of ex-Pats on cheap contracts down there.
The New England Patriots currently sit 9th in the AFC with the top 7 making the playoffs. The good news? Pats are 3-1 in the conference which may become a major player for tie breaker scenarios.
Good teams win the games they’re supposed to, and maybe that’s what’s in New England: a good team. Next week will be another measuring stick-a contest in LA against an AFC contender in the Chargers. The Pats showed on Sunday they are capable of putting together a complete game. They just need to continue to do it week in and week out if they want to have a chance for something this season.
Patriots coverage stats vs. Jets:
JC Jackson: 3/7, 29 yards, INT
Jalen Mills: 3/5, 37 yards, TD, DPI
Joejuan Williams: 1/5, 8 yards, 3 PBUs
Myles Bryant: 2/2, 17 yards, FF