Good times returned to Foxboro on Sunday as the Patriots did exactly what they needed to do, and had to do against the awful Jaguars. The Patriots’ 50-10 win coupled with Miami getting blown out in Tennessee means the Patriots have secured a playoff spot. And with Indianapolis losing to Las Vegas, New England vaulted over the Colts from the 6th to the 5th playoff seed in the AFC.
Many people described Sunday’s matchup with the 2-13 Jaguars as a “get right” game for the Patriots to get back on track. Whether they “got right” is subject to interpretation but they certainly accomplished what they set out to do at the outset.
After two horrible starts in a row (both losses), the Patriots started quickly and kept their foot on the gas, scoring the first five times they had the football and raced out to a 28-3 halftime lead and put Jacksonville in the rearview mirror before intermission.
Mac Jones was very sharp in this game completing 22-30 passes for 227 yards with 3 TD passes for a passer rating of 128.1. His three TD passes give him 21 for the season breaking the franchise record of 19 set by Jim Plunkett in the 1971 season.
The Patriots ran for 181 yards on the ground, led by Rhamondre Stevenson who gained 107 yards on 19 carries for two TDs, while Damien Harris carried 9 times for 35 yards and also scored two TDs before aggravating a hamstring injury. Jacobi Meyers had eight catches for 73 yards and a TD while Kendrick Bourne had five catches for 76 yards.
With Nelson Agholor still in the concussion protocol and N’Keal Harry a healthy scratch, Kristian Wilkerson got a chance to carve out a role for himself. And he delivered. Wilkerson, who developed a nice chemistry with Jones during training camp and the preseason caught his first NFL pass on Sunday and chipped in with four catches for 42 yards and his first two touchdown receptions of his career.
His second touchdown may probably be the easiest of his career. The Patriots showed a WR screen at the line to Kendrick Bourne, the cornerback bit hard leaving Wilkerson all alone down the right sideline for a 20-yard score on the pass from Jones.
He narrowly missed a third touchdown reception when Jones hit him in stride from the Jaguars 45-yard line with a deep pass in the end zone. It was perfectly placed and Wilkerson had the ball in his hands. But a Jaguar defender, trying to jar the ball loose, hit Wilkerson in the head and he dropped the pass. One could argue for a penalty there but it was a pass that Wilkerson needs to hold onto. Still, it was a nice game for him to get his first catches and TDs of his career.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Jaguars are just awful. The loss drops them to 2-14 and they’ve lost eight in a row and have lost 17 consecutive road games, which is the longest streak in the league. They’ve jettisoned head coach Urban Meyer and are in another complete rebuild. To top things off, they were missing eight starters and 13 players due to COVID-19, including three starting offensive linemen.
Trevor Lawrence continues to have a rough rookie season. He finished 17-27 for 193 yards with a TD and 3 INTs. But his TD pass came in garbage time against the Patriots’ backups. The Jaguars need to surround him with a much better supporting cast. The Jaguars host the Colts in the season finale next Sunday and then the search for yet another head coach will begin in earnest.
J.C. Jackson’s interception was the 25th of his career, tying him with Lester Hayes, and Everson Walls for the most in NFL history in a player’s first four seasons in the NFL.
The Patriots’ 10th win of the season also was a milestone for Bill Belichick who has now won 10 games for the 20th time, tying Don Shula for the most in NFL history. Belichick was effusive in his praise of Mac Jones after the game.
“He’s a great person to coach because he’s so responsive to do everything the way you want to do it,” Belichick said. “Josh (McDaniels) has done a fantastic job with him, and Mac has embraced the wisdom Josh has transmitted to him. He played extremely well today.”
The Patriots finish the regular season in Miami next week. Miami was eliminated from playoff contention after their blowout loss to the Titans. But the Patriots under Bill Belichick are just 2-7 in South Beach in December and January games. There are several different scenarios for the Patriots in the playoffs. If they started tomorrow, the Patriots would travel to Buffalo to face the Bills for the rubber match of the 2021 season.
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Dont'a Hightower Jakobi Meyers Kendrick Bourne Kristian Wilkerson Mac Jones New England Patriots NFL Patriots