Some quick reactions from Saturday’s 22-18 New England Patriots’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:
1) Mac Jones had a tough start, but he played fairly well in the second half, with the final four desperation incompletions skewing what was otherwise a pretty good fourth quarter.
He finished the afternoon 21-of-33 for 240-yards and two touchdowns, with 206 of those yards coming in the second half.
After a first half where he completed just 5-of-8 for 34-yards, Matt Patricia got a little more aggressive and Jones came out slinging it in the second half. He hit 7-of-9 in the 3rd quarter as the team started getting back into the game. He made some gutsy throws, including a couple of deep plays to Kendrick Bourne, along with a terrific throw on a 3rd-and-29 from the Bengals’ 48yd line to Scotty Washington, who ended up deflecting it to Jakobi Meyers for the touchdown.
“Shout out to Scotty for the assist,” said Meyers after the game.
That play was even more impressive because so much had gone wrong leading up that, which saw the Bengals come after him pretty hard on that play. Instead, Jones eluded pressure and was able to get the ball off and it had the distance for his receiver to come up with the touchdown.
2) Give this team credit. Given the deficit, they certainly could have mailed it in during the second half, yet that didn’t happen. The defense shut out Cincinnati, and the offense kept battling and eventually got them back in the game. While the result was frustrating, the effort wasn’t. Which is one of the bright spots we can take away from this one.
“We have fighters on this team,” said Mac Jones after the game. “I thought everybody on our offense, and defense, and special teams fought to the end.”
3) The defense also wasn’t dealt a great hand early on, but there was never any frustration shown despite the fact the offense couldn’t give them much of a breather.
They were on the field for 21:26 as the offense only managed to hold the football for about 8:34. Over that first-half span, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 28-of-36 for 284 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
If ever there was a reason for that group to get frustrated and start pointing fingers at the offense, this was definitely the game. Yet that didn’t happen, and the result was nearly a Christmas Eve miracle at Gillette Stadium.
4) While Rhamondre Stevenson is clearly one of New England’s stars on offense, this marks the second week where ball-security has been a little shaky. His late fumble obviously slammed the door on their comeback chances, and it’s surprising to see him be the one to lose the football in those situations.
He’s been outstanding all year, but if ever they needed a guy to really help them complete an improbable comeback, it would have been great to see him be the key reason behind it. Instead, it went the other way. Which is unfortunate after the absolutely terrific season he’s put together.
5) Marcus Jones continues to be a bright spot, and he was big again on Sunday. After struggling early on defense, he kept fighting and managed to come up with an interception, which he took back 69-yards the other way for the touchdown. And not only did he run it back, he fought through several defenders on his way to the end zone and somehow managed to keep his footing.
He also came up with a big play on offense, including catching a short pass that he managed to pick up 15-yards on a reception that, had everything worked out, would have been considered a key contribution on their would-be game-winning drive.
“Marcus is always in the right spot at the right time, and he makes the correct plays,” said Matthew Judon after the game. “I don’t think you can ask more from a guy, but every week we do, and he delivers.”
6) Saturday was a nice showing by Kendrick Bourne, who finished with his first career 100-yard performance.
He caught 6 passes on nine targets for 100-yards including a 5-yard touchdown. He made several big plays on Sunday, with a 32-yard reception helping set up his touchdown, along with another pass he hauled in from 28-yards out near the sideline where he was able to get both feet down before falling out of bounds.
That helped get New England close enough where Jones was able to hit the other touchdown to Meyers, so it definitely can’t go unnoticed.
At 7-8, this loss likely ends any chance they have at a postseason birth. But this season is still far from over. The Patriots have two more difficult games ahead, with the Miami Dolphins headed to Gillette Stadium next weekend, followed by a showdown with the Bills the following weekend to end the season.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2022 Patriots Season Patriots vs Bengals