Ryan L. Fox
Well another season has come to a close for the New England Patriots. Unlike in year’s past, there was no playoff to be played following the regular season. Instead, Week 17 would be the final game of the 2020 NFL season for the Patriots.
In the season finale at Gillette Stadium, they welcomed in the 2-13 lowly New York Jets for their Week 17 match-up. Unlike the Week 9 match-up in the Meadowlands that saw both offenses explode during the Patriots 30-27 victory, the game started off as a snoozefest as both teams struggled to sustain any sort of offensive drive. It wasn’t until the 2nd half where the teams began to amp it up but only one team had the juice to do so while the other team.
The Patriots opened up with the ball to start the game, as the Jets had won the toss and elected to defer.
After a minor hiccup to start off the drive, QB Cam Newton was able to lead the Patriots down the field with a few big yardage plays. This also included a 49-yard run by Newton on 2nd and 2 on the New England 36 down to the New York 15. From there, the Patriots ended up going no-huddle for their next few plays to keep the Jets defense on their toes. Newton was able to cap the drive off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to RB James White for the first score of the game. K Nick Folk booted the PAT through the uprights to give the home team the early 7-0 with 11:23 left in the 1st quarter.
The score ended up staying at 7-0 for the remainder of the 1st quarter and well into the 2nd quarter as neither team could sustain any sort of drive, being forced to punt 3 times each.
With 5:47 left in the 2nd quarter, the Jets got the ball back on their own 20 following a Patriots punt into the back of the endzone.
Jets QB Sam Darnold opened the drive up with a quick pass to WR Braxton Berrios for 6-yards to the New York 26 as the team did 2 consecutive running plays up to the New York 32. Following an offensive pass interference penalty, Darnold connected on two passes for 29 yards to his receivers to put the ball on the New England 49.
After a quick run on first down, Darnold aired the ball out on the Jets' next couple of plays. This included a 12-yard tiptoe catch by WR Jamison Crowder on 1st and 10 at the New England 33 to the New England 21 that prevented a sure Patriots interception by Patriots CB Myles Bryant. On ensuing play from the New England 21, Darnold dropped back and found TE Chris Herndon over the middle in the endzone for a 21-yard touchdown pass. K Chase McLaughlin booted the PAT through the uprights as the game was tied at 7-7 with 1:40 left in the quarter.
The Patriots had one last chance to muster a scoring drive before halftime but were forced to punt the ball with 46 seconds left in the quarter. The Jets simply ran one running play to run out the clock as both teams went into halftime with the score at 7-7.
The Jets received the ball to begin the 2nd half.
After watching the kickoff go through the back of the endzone, the Jets got the ball at their own 25. RB Josh Adams opened the drive up with a 10-yard run to the New York 25. On the following play, Darnold found WR Breshad Perriman for a 53-yard pass down to the New England 12. Two plays later, Darnold found Crowder for a 10-yard pass down to the New England 1.
Although the Patriots defense stuffed Adams on 1st and goal from 1, the Jets 3rd-year back was able to plunge over the goalline on the following play for the score. McLaughlin booted the PAT through the uprights as the Jets took a 14-7 lead with 11:40 left in the 3rd quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 42. Newton was able to lead the offense down the field, including converting two 3rd downs on his own by scrambling for the first down. The offense got down to the New York 19 where on 1st and 10 from there, Newton dropped back to pass. He then flipped the ball to WR Jakobi Meyers who then threw the ball back to a wide-open Newton as the QB strut into the endzone to cap off the trick play. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the game was tied 14-14 with 2:22 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Jets tried to answer back with a scoring drive of their own but Darnold’s pass to Periman was picked off by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson at the New England 38 and brought back to the New York 45.
The Patriots ended up closing out the 3rd quarter with a 9-yard run by RB Sony Michel to the New York 36.
When the 4th quarter began, the Patriots relied on the ground game for two consecutive players. Then on 2nd and 2 from the New York 26, Newton found rookie TE David Asiasi in stride for a 26-yard touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through as the Patriots regained the lead 21-14 with under 14 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
After forcing the Jets to punt, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 43. It took just two plays to find the endzone as Newton found Michel for a 31-yard touchdown. Folk’s PAT made it 28-14 with 11:42 left in the game.
Seeing the game starting to get out of reach and needing a score, Darnold led the Jets down the field against the Patriots defense. However, facing a 3rd and 7 from the New England 19, Darnold tried to find Perriman in the endzone. Instead Patriots CB Johnathan Jones jumped in front and came up with the interception, killing a Jets drive that went 16 plays and took 7:53 off the clock.
The Patriots then proceeded to run out the clock on the ensuing possession. They were able to run the clock all the way down to 27 seconds before punting the ball to the New York 7.
The Jets got the ball back with 16 seconds left as Darnold simply threw a quick 8-yard pass to Herndon for the game’s final play.
When the clock read 00:00, the score read 28-14 in favor of the New England Patriots.
With the victory over the Jets, the Patriots finish the 2020 NFL season with a 7-9 record. They also end a 3-game skid stemming back from Week 14 back in December.
It wasn’t the season that the Patriots envisioned on having. Nevertheless, to sandwich in a season finale victory in between a dismal regular season and an offseason of uncertainty is at least something to hang your hat on.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton – 21-for-30 for 242 yards and 3 TDs for a QB Rating of 127.4; 11 carries for 79 yards (7.2 yards per carry), 1 catch (on 1 target) for 19 yards and 1 TD
RB Sony Michel - 16 carries for 76 yards (4.8 yards per carry), 3 catches (on 3 targets) for 60 yards and 1 TD
WR Jakobi Meyers- 1-for-1 for 19 yards and 1 TD, 1 carry for 7 yards (7.0 yards per carry), 6 catches (on 7 targets) for 68 yards
P Jake Bailey - 6 punts for 272 yards (avg. 45.3 yards per punt), 3 punts downed past the 20, 2 touchbacks
DE Chase Winovich - 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assists), 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley - 8 tackles (4 solo, 4 assists)
CB Johnathan Jones - 4 tackles (4 solo, 0 assist), 1 interception
CB J.C. Jackson – 4 tackles (4 solo, 0 assists), 1 interception
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
11 - The number of consecutive wins the Patriots have against the Jets at Gillette since November 13, 2008
25 – The number of receiving touchdowns Patriots RB James White has since coming into the league in 2014, the most by any RB during that span
9 - The number of interceptions by CB J.C. Jackson on the season, tying him for the league lead with Miami Dolphins CB Xavier Howard
1 - The number of career receiving touchdowns by RB Sony Michel in his NFL career
127.4 - The QB rating of Patriots QB Cam Newton for the game, the highest QB rating he’s had for the season
3 - The number of touchdown passes for Cam Newton for the game, the most touchdown passes he’s thrown in a single game in 2020
5 - The number of penalties the Patriots had in the first half of the game (they ended up finishing with 6 for the entire game)
49 - QB Cam Newton’s 49-yard scramble in the 1st quarter was actually the longest rush by a quarterback in franchise history
Did You Know That...
- This was the 11th consecutive loss by the New York Jets while playing on the road against the New England Patriots. The last time the Jets won a regular season at Gillette was back on November 13, 2008 where the Jets won 34-31 in overtime. The quarterback of the Jets at the time was Brett Farve while Matt Cassell was taking snaps under center for the Patriots
- CB J.C. Jackson now has 11 takeaways for the year. That ties him 2nd most all-time in franchise history with CB Mike Haynes (1976). Those 11 takeaways are also the most takeaways by a Patriots defender during the Belichick coaching era, surpassing former Patriots CB Asante Samuel’s 10 takeaways in 2006
- With his 3 touchdown passes and receiving touchdown, QB Cam Newton became the 2nd QB since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to have 100+ career passing touchdowns, 30+ career rushing touchdowns and 1+ career receiving touchdown (HOF QB John Elway was the first)
Draft Spot Scenario
Well it’s now pretty much set in stone where the Patriots are going to be drafted in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.
At 7-9, the Patriots are now stuck in the middle of the pack at 15th overall.
The only way that this can change is if the San Francisco 49ers can pull the upset and beat the Seattle Seahawks. That would put them both at 7-9 but the 49ers would have the lower draft spot due to strength of schedule (Patriots SoS is .530 and the 49ers SoS is currently at .543). That means the Patriots would wind up with the 14th overall pick.
That still puts them out of the running for the top 4 QB prospects in the draft (i.e. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson). But if the Patriots had their hearts set on a QB, they could make a run at Alabama QB Mac Jones, who is projected to go within the top 20 regardless if they end up in the 14th or 15th overall spot.
Well the 2020 season marked the 4th time during the Belichick Era that the New England Patriots failed to make the playoffs.
Prior to 2020, the Patriots failed to make the playoffs in 2000, 2002, and 2008. However for two of those years (2002 & 2008), they failed to make the playoffs due to tie-breaking scenarios. They still had a record above .500 in those years though (9-7 in 2002 and 11-5 in 2008).
In 2000, the Patriots had a record of 5-11, a worse record than the 7-9 record in 2020. However, there was more talent on the 2000 team compared to the 2020 squad (if you’re a true Pats fan, you’ll remember a few of those players).
So who is really to blame for the 2020 season?
It’s really easy to point the finger at COVID-19. I mean, 8 players on the team opted out of playing this year including key starters such as LB Dont’a Hightower and SS Patrick Chung. Not to mention that there were no offseason workouts and training camp that newcomers (like a Cam Newton) can come in and get a proper workout and understanding of the playbook. Not to mention, get a feel for your teammates (i.e. a QB getting the timing down with his receivers), something you can’t do during a zoom meeting.
But if you ask me, the real culprit for the team’s shortcoming should all fall upon none other than Bill Belichick.
Going into the season, he allowed QB Tom Brady to simply walk in free agency while not even bothering to bring in any skill position players on offense to help whoever was taking snaps under center. Not to mention that he barely shored up the defense that saw a few key contributors (i.e. LBs Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts) walk into free agency.
And he essentially whiffed on the 2020 draft, something Bill has been doing in previous years. Instead of drafting a player that the team needed (i.e. WR, QB), Bill decided to draft based on what he felt was more pressing (i.e. grabbing a safety with his first pick in the draft).
Whoever you wanna blame for the shortcomings of 2020, everyone can agree that this season for the Patriots was a failure. They could have a bounce back year in 2021 or the arrow could trend even more downward. Regardless, the team will enter an offseason with more questions than answers.
Fox Fist Bump
Last week was the final Fox Fist Bump of 2020. This time, it’s the final Fox Fist Bump of the 2020 NFL Season.
This time, it’s QB Cam Newton who deserves the final Fox Fist Bump of the 2020 NFL Season. How fitting since we opened the 2020 NFL season with Cam Newton getting the first Fox Fist Bump of the year.
Yes I know, there were a few questionable throws by Cam in the game (including a few in the 2nd half). But overall, Cam had a solid game.
He got the offense going early in the first quarter with his 49-yard scamper that ultimately led to the team’s first touchdown in the game. Then in the 2nd half, Cam got into his stride as he racked up first downs on the ground and in the air. Not to mention that he racked up the touchdown throws with 3 and he even looked pretty damn good on that gadget play catching a touchdown pass from teammate WR Jakobi Meyers.
Also no turnovers which, given how Cam’s season went, that’s a big plus for the veteran QB.
I would like to also give an honorary fist bump to RB Sony Michel.
The 3rd year running back ran hard every time he touched the ball for the 3rd consecutive week. But that’s not what impressed me the most.
It was the fact that he was able to contribute in the passing game. Michel was able to haul in 3 catches on 3 targets, including one that went 31-yards for a touchdown.
Not too shabby.
The Meatball of the Game
The only Meatball of the Game goes to Bill Belichick. Why? Because he deserves one for an abysmal 2020 season.
Play of the Game
A Bag of Tricks
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