Ryan L. Fox
Last week, the New England Patriots faced off against an AFC East divisional rival in the Miami Dolphins at home. But instead of christening the new season with a win, the Patriots fumbled away the victory and wound up taking a sloppy 17-16 loss. Looking to shake off loss, they travelled down to the swamps of East Rutherford, New Jersey to face off against a familiar punching bag…I mean AFC East rival, the New York Jets.
The Jets, coming off a 19-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers last week, were also hungry to get their first victory of the season with their own rookie QB, Zach Wilson Jr. However, it was defense that dictated the game with each side making plays when they needed to. But only one team was able to capitalize on their defense’s play and spoiler alert…it wasn’t the Jets.
The Patriots opened up the game with the ball but had to punt on their first possession, giving the Jets the ball at their own 8.
Following an 8-yard run by RB Ty Johnson, the Jets were faced with 2nd and short at their own 16. Rookie QB Zach Wilson Jr. dropped back to pass, trying to find WR Corey Davis over the middle. Instead, the ball got knocked into the air by S Adrian Phillips and into the waiting arms of CB J.C. Jackson, who ended up being tackled at the New York 35.
With a short field, it looked like the Patriots were poised for an easy score. Instead, poor play and a costly penalty forced the team to settle for a 46-yard field goal by K Nick Folk for the early 3-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
The mistakes continued for the Patriots as P Jake Bailey’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Jets the ball at their own 40. But two plays later Wilson Jr., trying to find Davis down the right side of the field, threw another interception into the waiting arms of Phillips at the New England 28.
The Patriots opened up their drive with a 28-yard catch-and-run from QB Mac Jones to RB James White down to the New York 44. A few plays later, the Patriots offense display a little trickery as White took the handoff, threw it back to Jones who then found TE Jonnu Smith for a 19-yard pass down to the New York 19. White then took the handoff on two consecutive runs for 7-yards each, the last one being good for six. K Nick Folk booted the extra point through the uprights as the Patriots’ lead grew to 10-0 with under a minute left to play in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, former Patriots KR/WR Braxton Berrios brought the ball from the goalline to the New York 38, giving the Jets good field position. But this time around, the Jets decided to rely more on the ground game than Wilson Jr.’s arm (8 rushing plays compared to 2 passing plays), eating up clock (6:05) and giving their defense a drive. But the result was not what they were desiring as the Jets had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Matt Ammendola to make it 10-3 with 9:52 left in the second quarter.
Following that, the Jets defense caused the Patriots to lose 16 yards on the drive and be forced to punt, giving the Jets in tremendous field position at their own 49. The Jets rushed the ball down to the New England 28 and were faced with a 3rd and 4 from there. But for the third time in the half, Wilson Jr. threw another interception at the New England 13 with J.C. Jackson being on the receiving end for the second time.
Following an exchange of punts, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 37 following the two-minute warning. The Patriots got down all the way to the New York 21. But on 3rd and 2, Jones drew an intentional grounding call that pushed the ball back to the New York 31 and incurred a loss of downs. Folk came on to boot the 49-yard try, making it down the middle to extend the Patriots lead to 13-3 with 13 seconds left in the half, which ended up being the score going into halftime.
After getting the ball to start the second half, the Jets started their first possession on their own 25. But the drive ended the way that so many other drives in the first half, a costly interception by Zach Wilson Jr. This time it was FS Devin McCourty at the New York 43 as he brought the ball back to the New York 35.
Following a 9-yard pass from Jones to WR Nelson Agohlor, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 1 from the New York 26. RB Damien Harris took the handoff and burst through the right side, breaking Jets tackles as he was able finish the run by plunging into the end zone for the score. Folk ended up missing the ensuing PAT as the Patriots lead grew to 19-3 with 10:24 left in the third quarter.
The Jets tried to respond back with a score of their own but Ammendola’s 53-yard field goal attempt went wide left, giving the Patriots the ball at their own 43.
The Patriots opened up the drive with a big 32-yard pass from Jones to TE Hunter Henry down the middle to the New York 25. Two plays later, the Patriots resorted to some more trick plays as WR Kendrick Bourne took an end-around for 16-yards down to the New York 16. But the drive ultimately fizzled out as the Patriots ended up settling for a 32-yard field goal by Folk to make it 22-3 with 1:09 left in the third quarter.
After the two teams exchanged the ball (Jets with a turnover on downs and the Patriots a punt), the Jets got the ball back at their own 17 with 11:12 left in the 4th quarter.
Desperate to try and get a score, Wilson Jr. lead the offense down the field. The Jets got all the way down to the New England 17 where on 4th and 9, they elected to go for the points rather than try to risk for the first down. Ammendola booted the ball through the uprights to make it 22-6 with 6:11 left in the game.
The Jets forced a punt and got the ball back on their own 18. But on 4th and 2 at the New York 26, Wilson Jr. pass incomplete as they gave the ball back to the Patriots at the New York 25 with 4:31 left in the game.
From there, the Patriots offense simply handed the ball off to Harris, who grinded the ball all the way down to the New York 2. But Harris ended up getting stuffed on back-to-back plays, losing yardage and backing the Patriots to the New York 8. Following the two-minute warning, Folk booted his 4th field goal of the game (this time from 26-yards out) to make it 25-6 with 1:57 left to play.
With no timeouts and getting the ball back at their own 25, Wilson Jr. tried to lead the offense down the field for one last score. But the drive died at the New England 20 following a 12-yard pass from Wilson Jr. to Berrios as time simply ran out and the Jets couldn’t stop the clock.
When the clock hit 00:00, the Patriots jogged off the field with the score reading 25-6 in favor of the visitors. The Patriots were able to get their first victory of the 2021 campaign, giving their rookie starting QB his first NFL victory.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Mac Jones: 22-for-28 for 186 yards for a QB rating of 94.3
RB Damien Harris: 16 carries for 62 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and 1 TD, 1 catch (on 1 target) for 2 yards
RB James White: 5 carries for 20 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and 1 TD, 6 catches (on 6 targets) for 45 yards
K Nick Folk: 4-for-4 on Field Goals, 1-for-2 on extra points for a total of 13 points
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assist) and 1 pass defended
LB Dont’a Hightower: 6 tackles (3 solo, 3 assist)
FS Devin McCourty: 3 tackles (2 solo, 1 assist) and 1 INT
CB J.C. Jackson: 3 tackles (3 solo, 0 assist), 2 INT
Did You Know That…
- The Patriots and the Jets have met each other in 122 regular season matchups with the Patriots leading the series (68-53-1). But in all those matchups between the two teams, Sunday’s match up was the first time ever featured a Patriots-Jets matchup where both teams started rookie quarterbacks. With the Patriots, it was Mac Jones (15th pick overall in the 2021 NFL Draft) while the Jets had Zach Wilson Jr. (2nd pick overall in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Brigham Young University)
- Today’s victory against the Jets marked the 12th time that the Patriots had 3 or more turnovers in a single game since 2018. During that same span, the Patriots are 12-0.
-Bill Belichick has been an NFL Coach (47 years) longer than New York Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh (42 years old)
- The last time the Jets beat the Patriots was back on December 27, 2015 (26-20 in OT at East Rutherford). Since then, the Patriots have won 11 consecutive games against the Jets including outscoring them (approx. 29.5 points to approx. 10.9 points), out gaining them (approx. 371 yards to approx. 280), and won the turnover battle (5 turnovers committed by the Patriots to 27 turnovers by the Jets)
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
3 – The number of interceptions by the Patriots in the first half with CB J.C. Jackson accounting for 2 of them (the Patriots ended up finishing with 4 interceptions for the game)
16 – The total number of points that the Patriots scored off those turnovers
88 – The number consecutive games (regular and playoffs) that the Patriots have scored in the first half, the longest streak in the NFL since 2000
11 – The number of consecutive wins by the Patriots over the Jets since December 27, 2015
25.0 – The passer rating of Jets QB Zach Wilson Jr. after the first half (3-for-7, 45 yards, and 3 INTs)
33 – The number of consecutive field goals by Patriots K Nick Folk, a franchise record
.778– The winning percentage of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick against rookie QBs (21-6) since 2000
My Two Cents
Cent #1: I just love how Damien Harris runs. Following his 100-yard game last week, Harris turned out another strong running game (20 carries for 50 yards and a TD). He ran hard each time, lowered his shoulder for the boom, and just kept those feet churning. But what really impressed me was the fact that he put behind last week’s fumble behind him. He worked hard on ball handling for the week and he made it a point to not turn the ball over whatsoever. I like his chances going forward for the remainder of the season and I get the feeling he’s going to be one of the bright spots on this Patriots team in 2021.
Cent #2: Wow. I know this is the first time I’ve seen Zach Wilson Jr. play but just wow. He had by far the worst game as a quarterback against the Patriots that I can remember. He threw not only 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 interceptions for the game. On half those picks, they were just ugly throws by Wilson Jr. trying to force balls into a spot where he shouldn’t. And when he wasn’t throwing interceptions, he was throwing balls too high or out of the reach of his receivers. I wasn’t sold on him in the combine, I wasn’t sold on him being taken No. 2 overall in this past draft, and I am not sold on him being the franchise QB for the Jets.
Fox Fist Bump
There are two Patriots players that deserves a big Fox Fist Bump this week.
First, give one fist bump to CB J.C. Jackson.
The dude had a nose for the ball during the game, picking off Zach Wilson Jr. twice with each pick leading to points in some form. He’s slowly starting to grow out from teammate CB Stephon Gilmore’s shadow, which is good for the Patriots and bad for Gilmore.
The next one goes to none other than RB Damien Harris.
You know that fumble he had last week that cost the Patriots a win over the Dolphins? Well this time around, the dude held onto the ball and ran hard against at good Jets front seven defense. He ran with power, he ran with authority, and he didn’t commit any turnovers at all. Plus, that 26-yard touchdown run was just pure smash mouth, downhill running! Loved it.
The Meatball of the Game
This week’s Meatball of the Game is none other than…RT Yasir Durant.
Now I know what you are thinking who the hell is Yasir Durant and why is an offensive lineman the Meatball? Well let me break it down for you.
Because starter Trent Brown left last week’s game against the Dolphins due to injury, there was a void at right tackle. OT Justin Herron filled in against the Dolphins but this week, the team decided to go with Yasir Durant instead.
The end result was baaaaaad.
Durant seemed overwhelmed by the Jets pass rusher, backpedaling more so than any other of the Patriots linemen. On 3 of the sacks by the Jets, all were allowed by Durant since they all came on his side. He was manhandled and pushed back by Jets rushers as it got so bad, Durant got pulled before halftime and was replaced by Herron for the remainder of the game.
Ironically enough, Durant had to come back in because Herron got injured but the Patriots barely did any pass plays to his side, which isn’t a good look for an offensive lineman.
If Trent Brown is going to miss more time and with Herron nicked up, it’s not looking good for Durant as he’ll be facing top pass rushing defenses in the Patriots next two upcoming games (@New Orleans in Week 3 and home against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Play of the Game
Smash Mouth Run!
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