The Patriots went two games above .500 to move to 6-4 with the win over the Jets. The defense was outstanding, and with the game poised to go to overtime at 3-3, another great defensive stop forced the Jets to punt. Marcus Jones took it at the Patriots’ 16 and then raced 84 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just five seconds left.
The win pushes New England ahead of the Jets in the division, although both are now 6-4 due to the season series sweep. Miami and Buffalo are ahead of them at 7-3. All four teams are still in playoff position. Raise your hand if you thought that was possible at this point of the season.
The offense was able to move the ball, but six sacks allowed, penalties, and poor situational play-calling, were responsible for the team’s inability to generate more points.
So, here are my observations from the game this afternoon.
The New England Defense Was Outstanding: Famous attorney F. Lee Bailey once said, “The defense never rests,” and in this case, the Patriots’ defense once again rose to the challenge and had to keep the Jets off the scoreboard due to the offense unable to score any points.
But they were outstanding. The defense held the Jets to just 51 yards rushing in the first meeting. Today, the Jets could only rush for 59 yards, 26 of them on scrambles from Wilson. They averaged just 2.6 yards per carry.
After the debacle from a few weeks ago, the Jets tried to scheme up some easy passes in the short game to get Wilson into a rhythm and avoid making mistakes like the last meeting. They used the same plan against the Bills. But the Patriots took those away.
The Jets’ 3rd and 1 play just prior to the punt had the WRs trying to clear out space for Michael Carter behind the line of scrimmage. But Kyle Dugger recognized it and flew in to hit him for a two-yard loss. Wilson was just 9-22 passing for just 77 yards (44 yards net) while generating four sacks, six QB hits, and seven tackles for loss (TFL). For all of the gushing CBS was doing in the studio about the Jets’ defense, the Patriots’ unit was even better, holding the Jets to just 103 yards total, just six first downs, and three points.
The Offensive Line Continues to Flounder: It was hoped that the OL would get things figured out during the bye week. Those hopes were dashed very early. On the first offensive snap, Mac Jones was sacked for a loss of seven.
Jones was sacked six times and was hit eight times. And while Jones did hold the ball too long on some occasions, the protection wasn’t there consistently enough to finish drives and score points. The Jets also notched eight TFLs.
Even worse were the injuries to David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn. Andrews is the glue to the interior OL, and he had just returned to the lineup. But he suffered a quad injury that NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport stated could be a season-ending ailment which would a huge loss. Wynn injured his foot, and that now strains the team’s depth.
Running Backs Once Again Carry the Day: Damien Harris led the way for the running game running for 65 yards on eight carries, including a nice 30-yard scamper. On the play, the Patriots ran out of a backfield with Harris lined up deep, and TEs Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry lined up on either side and in front of him. They crashed the middle, and Sauce Gardner flew in to lend support on the end of the line.
However, Harris displayed great vision and bounced the play outside upon seeing Gardner vacate the edge and race for a 30-yard gain. That formation will bear watching in the future.
Rhamondre Stevenson was held in check by the Jets in the running game, with just 26 yards on 15 carries. But he was the Patriots leading receiver with six catches for 56 yards. His highlight play was a screen on a 3rd and 16 where he shook a tackle in the flat and then blasted through three defenders for a 1st down. An incredible play showcasing his elusiveness and power.
Mac Jones’ Day Wasn’t Great or Bad: Looking at the big picture of things, the QB’s job is to lead the team on drives to score touchdowns or field goals. The offense didn’t score a touchdown and only managed a single field goal, while two others were missed. This is not acceptable, despite the gusty winds in the stadium, especially at the open end. So, Jones has to share in that regard, and he did hold the ball too long on some of the sacks.
But the offensive line’s struggles, coupled with some poor situational play-calling and penalties, reared their ugly head. Jones only threw four incompletions, going 23-27 for 246 yards (198 yards net). The All-22 will tell the story if he was missing open receivers, but WRs not named Jakobi Meyers were targeted only eight times.
He did, however, spread the ball around to nine receivers. So, it was a very small step, but at least in the right direction. We’ll see moving forward.
Matthew Judon is Having A Tremendous Season: Three weeks ago, Judon harassed Wilson on seemingly every down. Today he was immense, and he was all over the field chasing down plays, harassing Wilson, and disrupting the Jets’ passing game. Judon garnered 1.5 more sacks giving him a career-high 13 sacks for the season and leading the NFL, three more than Micah Parsons of the Cowboys.
He is reminding me of how dominant Andre Tippett was in his prime, which is totally unblockable. In the LT-dominated 80s, Tippett was underrated, and Judon is (outside of NE) not considered among the best pass rushers at the position.
The linebackers overall were solid; Ja’Whaun Bentley was a force inside, notching nine tackles. The team was using the athletic Mack Wilson on passing downs as a spy on Zach Wilson, and he notched a half-sack with Judon. Raekwon McMillan, Anfernee Jennings, and Jahlani Tavai all contributed. Josh Uche had a quiet game, however.
Marcus Jones Proves to be a Game-Breaker: And the best for last. Jones was held in check for most of the game and had an ankle injury that was reported that he was questionable to return. But every week, he seems on the cusp of breaking a return. As I said recently, it isn’t a question of “if” he’d break one, but only “when.” Today was a perfect time.
During our draft analysis, Derek Havens was ranting about how good a pick Jones was as giving the Patriots a dangerous returner. He took the Jets’ final punt at the 16-yard line, faked an inside return, and raced to the right perimeter. Once there, he showed that extra gear, burst down the sideline, and then cut back inside, leaving the punter Mann in the dust and outdistancing the Jets’ coverage players.
He has a very bright future as a returner, and with an offense struggling, he gives the team a weapon that can ease up on the woes of scoring points.
-Don’t read too much of the two misses by Nick Folk; the wind was really swirling.
-The Patriots outgained the Jets nearly 3:1 offensively, take from that what you will…
Look for my Positional Report Card ASAP due to the short week.
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Damien Harris Deatrich Wise Devin McCourty Jakobi Meyers Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon Michael Carter New England Patriots New York Jets Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Zach Wilson