New England won their fourth game in a row on Sunday in a 45-7 rout of Cleveland, and here are some thoughts on the victory.
1) Mac Jones went out on and played about as flawless a game as could have been hoped for in front of the home crowd, with the rookie going out and throwing three touchdowns during their blowout win on Sunday against Cleveland.
Jones completed 19-of-23 for 198-yards and his three TDs in an impressive 45-7 blowout win over the Browns to improve to 6-4 on the season.
He’s gotten sharper and sharper as the season has gone on, with yesterday’s battle highlighting several unbelievable throws. He dropped a perfectly thrown ball into the hands of Hunter Henry in the corner of the end zone for the club’s first touchdown, followed by another unbelievable deep ball on a 3rd-and-9 right into the hands of Jakobi Meyers up the left sideline, which went for 26-yards. That one was just a great throw, as the rookie dropped it up and away from the defender, with it ending up in a spot where only Meyers could catch it.
The same could be said on the touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne, which Jones threw high and allowed Bourne to split two defenders and go up and make the grab.
He was also nearly perfect on third down, with Jones starting out 5-of-5 on 3rd-down before finishing 6-of-7, with his final throw being another touchdown to Henry on a 3rd-and-3 early in the fourth quarter. That would be his final pass of the day, with Jones giving way to Brian Hoyer, who finished up the afternoon.
This kid is special, and all he keeps doing is proving it more and more each week. While there are still seven games left to play, considering how their defense is playing, Jones has gone from doing enough to keep putting them in a position to win to now being one of the key reasons they’ve won four-straight.
Jones is definitely writing quite a story so far and thanks to how far he’s come in such a short period of time, their outlook is suddenly quite different than it was just one month ago.
2) Don’t look now, but the Patriots’ defense is quietly becoming one of the best in the league, with Sunday’s performance against Cleveland now seeing them sitting at the #2 spot behind the Bills in points per game. After holding the Browns to just 7-points, New England is allowing an average of 17.7 points per game, right behind Buffalo, who leads the NFL while averaging 15.0.
Considering the Patriots have been without Stephon Gilmore all season (Gilmore was traded to the Panthers a couple of weeks ago), they’re also sitting at 3rd in the league in passes defended with 51, behind just Tennessee (52) and Miami (55). They’re also tied for second in interceptions with 14 (Dallas also has 14) behind Buffalo, who has 15.
They’re also 6th in the NFL in yards per game allowed and 8th in passing yards per game allowed.
With the offense starting to put up points, this unit continues to impress and they obviously put together a solid effort against a Browns team that even after Sunday is 6th in the NFL in total yards.
If Jones and the rest of that offense can continue to progress and really start clicking, with a solid defense behind them, it wouldn’t be a surprise if New England ends up among the top teams in the AFC when we get into the final weeks of the season.
3) Speaking of the defense, there’s been a fair amount of criticism following Matt Judon’s hit on Zach Wilson a couple of weeks ago, but Sunday’s hit on Baker Mayfield was probably a better example of the type of person Judon really is when it comes to trying to do things the right way.
Judon put a hit on Mayfield on a 2nd-and-10 with just over two minutes left to go on the third quarter, which ended up knocking the Browns QB out of the game. On the play, Mayfield stepped up under pressure and as the ball left his hands, Judon came in and wrapped up Mayfield as the two started going to the ground.
However, with Judon understanding the ball was gone, he opened his arms and let go of Mayfield, with the veteran spinning and rolling away from the quarterback before the two players hit the turf.
Mayfield stayed down after the play and was clearly hobbled. He was evaluated by trainers but left the contest, with Case Keenum coming in to handle the ensuing 3rd-and-10 play. Both Judon and Dont’a Hightower took Keenum down for a 9-yard sack on the play, with Kyle Van Noy getting him again one play later when the Browns went for it on 4th down.
That half-sack by Judon gave him 9 1/2 on the season, which tied his career-high. What’s crazy to think about is the fact that Judon still has seven games to go to add to that total and at the rate he’s going, it should be interesting to see just how high he can finish by the end of the year.
But he plays the game the right way and it’s the little things like what we saw from him on Sunday that should hopefully quiet some of the critics.
4) Kyle Dugger’s performance on Sunday was great to see, especially considering how much he’s grown since being selected in the second round in 2020.
Dugger was thrust into the spotlight last year after Patrick Chung was among several COVID opt outs, and he handled the role like a seasoned veteran. It’s continued into this year and he’s been in the right spot on quite a few plays this season, with Sunday seeing him make a huge interception that helped give New England the lead.
Dugger snagged a pass intended for David Njoku early in the second quarter, with Dugger taking the football 37-yards the other way down the Browns’ 5yd line.
One play later, Rhamondre Stevenson took it in for the touchdown and that gave New England the lead at 14-7 and they never looked back.
Dugger also made noise on special teams, including putting a massive hit on Anthony Schwartz, which could audibly be heard on the broadcast.
OH MY GOODNESS! Kyle Dugger CRACKED Schwartz! pic.twitter.com/sJltwFYjFP
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) November 14, 2021
In just his second season, it’s amazing to see him coming into his own this quickly and he’s quietly a big reason why this defense is slowly becoming one of the league’s best.
5) But the best moment of the game came with 4-minutes to go in the fourth quarter when Brian Hoyer finally got Jakobi Meyers his first NFL receiving touchdown of his career.
On the play, Hoyer found Meyers up the right sideline, with Meyers taking it 16yds before leaping into the end zone for the score.
Following the touchdown, he was greeted by the entire offensive group, with everyone joining him in the end zone to celebrate the moment.
“Just the fact everybody celebrated with me, and it finally happened,” said Meyers. “That’s a moment I’ll probably hold on to forever.”
Good for him.
It’s just a terrific example of a tight-knit Patriots team that is coming together at the right time. After winning their fourth-straight, they’re right back in the AFC playoff picture at 6-4 and if they can take care of business Thursday night, it would certainly change the narrative even further on a team that so many had written off a month ago.
As a result, it’s another big week on a short turnaround. We’ll see if they can build off this win and then hopefully have 10 days off to get healthy.
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season