Ryan L. Fox
We have all done this. When the NFL schedule comes out, fans look at and pick out which week will be a win and which week would be a loss. For the past few years (or rather for almost the entire tenure of the Brady-Belichick Era), New England Patriots fans would look at the schedule and mark down 2 automatic wins against their AFC Divisional rivals, the New York Jets.
Now in 2020, with the 2-5 Pats seemingly on the verge of a lost year, they traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey for a Monday Night Football showdown with the 0-8 Jets at MetLife Stadium. Even with offensive woes and key players being out with injury, many were confident that the Patriots could still throttle the Jets ragtag team.
But instead of a blowout victory, it was a nail biter that came right down to the wire that the Patriots were lucky enough to squeak by in.
The Jets took the opening kickoff and proceeded to march down the field on the short-handed Patriots defense. The offense, on the backs of RBs Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine, seemingly ran down the field and time off the clock. But the Jets got bogged down once they reached the Patriots red zone and had to settle for a field goal. K Sergio Castillo booted the 35-yard attempt through the uprights to give the Jets the 3-0 early lead with 8:33 left in the 1st quarter.
The Patriots were able to respond the Jets’ opening scoring drive with a scoring drive of their own. After opening on the ground, the Patriots offense went into the air. QB Cam Newton dinked and dunked down the field before hitting WR Jakobi Meyers with a 33-yard pass on 1st and 10 on the New York 38 down to the New York 5. On the ensuing play, Newton rolled right and ran into the endzone for the score. K Nick Folk booted the PAT through to give the Patriots the 7-3 lead with a little over 3:30 minutes left in the 1st quarter.
In the 2nd quarter, after forcing the Patriots to punt the Jets got the ball back, starting at their own 7 yard line. After a couple of runs, Flacco went to the air. Two passes and a defensive pass interference by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson, the Jets were faced with a 1st and 10 at midfield. Flacco dropped back and aired it out down the right side to WR Breshad Perriman, catching him stride for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Castillo booted the PAT through as the Jets regained the lead 10-7 with 9:59 in the 2nd quarter.
After forcing a turnover by downs by the Patriots, the Jets got the ball back at their own 43. Flacco opened up the drive with a 23-yard catch-and-run to TE Ryan Griffin down to the New England 23. But the Pats defense buckled down as the Jets had to settle for a 50-yard field goal by Castillo to make it 13-7 with a little over 4:30 left in the 2nd quarter.
The Patriots countered with a 45-yard Folk field goal to make it 13-10 with a little over a minute left before halftime.
With time winding down before halftime, the Jets got the ball back at their own 23. In two plays (including a 42-yard pass interference penalty on Patriots CB Jason McCourty), the Jets were able to get to the New England 20. Flacco heaved to left side endzone for WR Jamison Crowder but the initial call was an incomplete pass. But upon further review, Crowder was able to get the left foot down and drag the right foot in bounds before going out. The call was reversed from an incompletion to a 20-yard touchdown. Castillo booted the PAT through to make it 20-10 with 25 seconds in the 2nd quarter, where it remained going into halftime.
The Patriots took the opening kickoff and began their first possession of the 2nd half at their own 22. Newton lead the offense down the field as the Patriots relied heavily on the running game. The Patriots got all the way down to the New York 1 where on 2nd and goal, RB Rex Burkhead bulled his way behind the right guard for the score. Folk booted the PAT through as the Patriots cut into the Jets lead 20-17 with 7:27 left in the 3rd quarter.
But in almost, in an immediate response, the Jets answered back with their own scoring drive. Flacco drove the offense down the field, nearly eating up 7 minutes up off the clock. He then found Perriman over the right side for a 15-yard touchdown, the 2nd time the two hooked up for a score. Castillo booted the PAT through as the Jets pushed their lead back up to 10 as it was 27-17 with less than 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
The Patriots got the ball back as they ended the 3rd quarter with an end-around by WR Gunner Olszweski for 3 yards.
When the 4th quarter began, the Patriots still had the ball. They then proceeded to either grind the ball on the ground with the running game or dinked and dunked in the passing game. The drive then got bogged down once the Patriots got into the Jets red zone as they were forced to settle for a field goal. Folk trotted on for what would have been a 31-yard field goal attempt. Instead, the Patriots were handed a gift.
On the field goal attempt, the Jets had too many men on the field and were flagged for it. It was 4th and 5 when the Jets were hit with the penalty as the penalty yards gave the Patriots a crucial first down. But even with the fresh set of downs, the Patriots could capitalize. They ended up settling for a 29-yard field goal by Folk to make it 27-20 with 6:04 left in the 4th quarter.
After Patriots CB J.C. Jackson picked off Flacco at the New England 28, the Patriots got the ball back with less than 6 minutes left in the game. Newton led the Patriots offense down the field, including converting a 4th and short at the New York 37 to keep the drive alive. After Newton found WR Damiere Byrd for 31-yard catch-and-run to the New York 3, he then kept the ball on 3 consecutive running plays. The final running play ended up being a 1-yard touchdown to make it 27-26. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the game was tied 27-27 with under 2 minutes left in the game.
After forcing the Jets to punt the ball, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 22 with 47 seconds left in the game.
With the clock winding down, Newton was able to muster up one last drive. He was able to get the ball down to the New York 33, setting up what would be a 51-yard field goal attempt for Folk with 4 seconds left in the game. Holder P Jake Bailey got the snap down as Folk booted the ball. The ball sailed right down the middle and through the uprights, giving the Patriots the 30-27 comeback victory.
They say that winning cures everything. For the Patriots, even though it was against the winless Jets, the victory ended a 4-game losing skid to put the team at 3-6 for the season. It was also the first come-from-behind victory for Cam Newton in a Patriots uniform and helped lifted the stink of his Week 8 fumble that costed the Patriots a victory against the Buffalo Bills.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton – 27 for 35 for 274 yards (for a QB rating of 99.0), 10 carries for 16 yards (1.6 yards per carry) and 2 TDs
RB Damien Harris – 14 carries for 71 yards (5.1 yards per carry)
RB Rex Burkhead – 12 carries for 56 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 1 TD, 3 catches (on 5 targets) for 11 yards
WR Jakobi Meyers - 12 catches (on 14 targets) for 169 yards
WR Damiere Byrd – 5 catches (on 9 targets) for 65 yards
K Nick Folk – 3-for-3 on Field Goals, 3-for-3 on PATs for a total of 12 points
DE Deatrich Wise – 6 tackles (4 solo, 2 assists), 1.0 sacks
CB J.C. Jackson - 1 tackles (1 solo, 0 assists), 1 INT, and 2 passes defended
S Adrian Phillips – 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assist)
The Gilmore Blues
Back on March 9, 2017, the New England Patriots shocked their fans and the NFL. Almost within the first few minutes of NFL free agency, the team announced they had inked former Buffalo Bills turned free agent CB Stephon Gilmore to a whooping 5-year, $65-million contract. This included an $18-million signing bonus with $40-million guaranteed at signing.
The reason why this was shocking was because the Patriots rarely (and I mean rarely) gave out those kinds of contract to top tier free agents during the Brady-Belichick Era. They were mostly known for signing mid-tier players (aka JAGs) to 1-3 year deals that fell into the $3-$7 million range per year just to fill out depth on the roster. Nevertheless, Gilmore was a Patriot.
But there was some uncertainty with the signing. Gilmore was more of a man-coverage corner while the Patriots relied more on a zone-based coverage with their defensive backs. For the first few games of the 2017 season, Gilmore seemed out of place and was beaten on coverage often.
After getting embarrassed by the likes of wideouts Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess in a 33-30 loss at home to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, the Patriots made a change in defensive philosophy. Rather than have Gilmore play zone coverage, they altered it to man-coverage to play to his strengths. The end result was having one the best shutdown corners in the league.
Since signing on with the Patriots back in 2017, Gilmore was named to 2 Pro Bowls (2018 & 2019) as well as be named to the NFL All-Pro 1st Team twice (2018 & 2019). Gilmore was also named the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and also helped the Patriots win Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. Plus he was given a 99 rating in Madden 2021 (yes…yes NFL players care how they are rated in a video game).
But then in the 2020 season happened.
First it came out that the Patriots were looking to trade the 2019 DOY during the offseason for whatever reason. Then his play started to slip a little compared to what it was in the previous year. Then after the team’s 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs back in Week 4, he ended up testing positive for COVID-19. What was damning about that positive result was the fact that prior to the positive test, there were reports that came out that he was had dinner with teammate QB Cam Newton the Friday prior to the game and then Newton himself ended up testing positive for COVID-19 the following Saturday.
To add even more to the headache, Gilmore’s wife, Gabrielle, came out on social media to try and defend her husband, complaining that certain sports media figures were making up stuff about Gilmore and Newton’s dinner on Friday. Although a noble gesture, Gabrielle unknowingly caused some drama around her husband Stephon and 100 out of 100, that sort of stuff sends a hair across Bill Belichick’s butt, which can cause a player to get cut or traded to whatever team is considered “Football Siberia” that year.
Luckily for Gilmore, he was able to make a full recovery from COVID-19. But with unaspiring play during losses against the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers, trade rumors again swirled around Gilmore. It didn’t help quell the rumor flames that Gilmore also put up his house for sale and pretty much said that he ‘needed a buyer before November 3’, which was the NFL 2020 Trade Deadline.
So the next question was what is the asking price for Gilmore. Like what do the Patriots want back in exchange for arguably their best defensive player.
It first came out that the Patriots were looking to ship Gilmore to a suitor in exchange for a 1st-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Then it came out later that the team not only wanted a 1st-round pick, they wanted a player in return. Pretty steep asking price for a cornerback who is making over $15-million this year, carrying a $25.17 million cap hit this year, and has a dead cap of $28.34 million. Oh by the way, prior to the NFL trade deadline, Gilmore had a ‘knee issue’ pop up that forced him to sit out the Patriots’ Week 8 match-up against the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately for the Patriots (and I say that while rolling my eyes), there were no buyers and Gilmore is still currently on the team.
Now the big question is what are the Patriots going to do with Gilmore going forward this year and in next year?
It’s clear that the Patriots are looking to move on from Gilmore. It’s the old Belichick philosophy of ‘getting rid of a player two years early rather than keep them two years too late’. Although Gilmore is a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro corner, a Defensive Player of the Year, helped the them win a Super Bowl and become widely known and respected shutdown, that means nothing to Bill. I mean, he allowed Tom Freakin’ Brady, the greatest quarterback in franchise history and perhaps the greatest quarterback to play in the NFL, to walk out the door. If a player of Brady’s caliber is shown the door, then a player like Gilmore will probably get tossed out just as quick, if not quicker.
However, the chances of trading Gilmore at the current asking price might be impossible to move him. Although he has one year left on his current deal and the both the cap hit and dead cap money will be going down ($17.17 million cap hit and $7.67 million in dead cap in 2021), Gilmore will be 30 years old in 2021 and will be 31 when he hits free agency and asking for one last big payday. So Patriots management would have to get rid of the dream of trying to get a 1st-round pick.
Whatever the case maybe, it’s clear that Gilmore’s time in New England is slowly but surely coming to an end. At 3-6 and perhaps the 2020 season out of reach for the Patriots, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team decides to shutdown Gilmore for the rest of the year. Given how 2020 has gone, anything you think could happen might not happen and anything you didn’t think could happen could happen.
I honestly thought Gilmore would finish his career in a Patriots uniform given how respected he was within the locker room and within the Patriots organization. But if the hoodie doesn’t think you have a future with the team, then it’s curtains for No. #24.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
19.4 – The number of points the Patriots have scored per game going into Monday night’s match-up against the Jets (28th overall in the NFL)
21.0 – The average margin of difference between the Patriots and Jets during their last 8 matchups since 2016 (Patriots are 8-0 in that span)
69 – The amount of points the Patriots have scored in the 4th quarter this season, including the 13 points they scored against the Jets
1 – The number of 1st quarter touchdowns the New England Patriots have for the entire 2020 season so far
235 – The number of games Jets RB Frank Gore has played, putting him 2nd all-time for most games played by an NFL running back (Lorenzo Neal, 239)
216.9 – The average amount of net passing yards per game allowed by the Patriots defense for 7th overall in the NFL in 2020
257 – The total net passing yards allowed by the Patriots during the game
5 – The number of interceptions Patriots CB J.C. Jackson has for the season, which leads the NFL
8 – The number of rushing touchdowns by QB Cam Newton this year, tying him with Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry and Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray for 3rd most in the NFL this year
Did You Know?
- Cam Newton’s 5-yard touchdown run the 1st quarter was the first offensive touchdown for the Patriots in the 1st quarter this season. The last regular season offensive touchdown the Patriots had was back in Week 16 during the 2019 NFL season in a 24-17 home against the Buffalo Bills. It was an 8-yard touchdown from then QB Tom Brady to TE Matt LaCosse to make it 7-3 with 1:50 left in the 1st quarter. Ironically enough, it was the last time a Patriots tight end scored a touchdown (Patriots TEs have 0 TD catches in 2020)
- Newton’s 2 rushing TDs this game pushes his total to 8 rushing touchdowns this year. Newton has more rushing touchdowns than 10 NFL teams (Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars 7; LA Chargers, Green Bay Packers, NY Giants 6; Houston Texans 5; NY Jets 3; Chicago Bears 2) and it also ties him with 7 NFL Teams (Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Raiders, Philadelphia Eagle, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins 8)
- Going into tonight’s game, Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers only had 11 catches (on 17 targets) for a paltry 125 receiving yards. He ended up finishing with game-highs in catches (12), targets (14), and receiving yards (169). That pushes his season totals to 23 catches (on 31 targets) for 294 receiving yards. So in a single game, Meyers increased his season total receptions by 52.2%, his season total targets by 45.2% and his season total receiving yards by 57.5%.
Fox Fist Bump
Ladies and Gentlemen, Superman has returned*.
After weeks of just uninspired play and then a costly turnover last week in Buffalo, there was some chatter that the Patriots could make a switch at quarterback and simply move on from the former #1 overall pick from the 2011 NFL Draft. Instead, Bill Belichick stated last week that he would stick with Newton at quarterback and Newton delivered.
For the game, Superman went 27-for-35 (77.1% completion) for 274 yards and a QB rating of 99.0 to go along with 10 carries for 16 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 77.1 completion percentage and the 99.0 QB rating were the highest since Week 1.
But what was most inspiring is that he did not have a single turnover in the game after 5 consecutive games with at least one giveaway. So kudos to that.
Also, a shout out to WR Jakobi Meyers. When the Patriots needed a big playmaker on offense, he delivered and it was outstanding.
Meyers ended up finishing the game with 12 catches (on 14 targets) for 169 yards. His 12 catches and 14 targets were both single-game team high this year and 169 yards were the most by a Patriots wideout this since teammate WR Julian Edelman’s 179 yards back in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.
(*= Well I guess every once in a while both suns shine on a womp rat's tail, even if it was against the winless Jets)
The Meatball of the Game
Well if the Patriots would have lost, I would have given their entire defense a big fat meatball.
They looked abysmal, uninspired, and downright awful against the winless Jets for almost the entire game. They allowed Joe Flacco to throw over 250 yards passing (262 yards to be exact) and 3 TDs and seemed like they couldn’t get off the field when they needed to.
But they made the big plays when needed to. This included J.C. Jackson picking off Flacco, which lead to the game tying touchdown, and DE Deatrich Wise's sacking on 2nd and short late in the 4th quarter that pushed the Jets back, which ultimately forced them to punt the ball away.
So I’ll spare them…for now.
Play of the Game
Folk For the Win
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