4 big takeaways from Patriots’ 10-3 win vs Jets

On a windy November Sunday in Foxborough, the New England Patriots and New York Jets combined for 17 punts in a game that featured little to no offensive action for the first 59.5 minutes.

While New England’s offense was able to move the ball up and down the field all game long, they were never able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. The Patriots’ defense, in turn, suffocated a Jets offensive unit that was only able to net two yards of offense in the entirety of the second half.

The culmination of these factors led to a 3-3 game throughout most of the contest. However, Patriots rookie cornerback Marcus Jones scored a touchdown on the final play from scrimmage – a punt return with only 6 seconds left – to win the game for New England 10-3.

Here are four takeaways from the game.

Missed Opportunities

Missed opportunities were likely the game’s overall theme for the Patriots on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Mac Jones had maybe his best game of the season, not only in the statistical category (23-of-27, 246 yards, 104.6 passer rating) but also with the eye test.

As former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky noted on NFL Live during New England’s bye week, the Patriots had some work to do with getting the timing right between their wide receivers and Jones.

On Sunday, this timing issue looked to be in large part, resolved. When Jones had enough time in the pocket to complete his passes (though it didn’t occur often, more on that later), he was able to make good connections to his receivers who were actually looking for the ball.

However, this momentum tended to stall out in the red zone, where a multitude of penalties, sacks, and other offensive mishaps prevented New England from truly capitalizing on these chances.

Defensively, the Patriots were as good as they have been all season. Their defensive front made Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s life very difficult all game long, posting four sacks and six QB hits as a unit.

The secondary was also on lockdown all game, giving a notably erratic Wilson a very poor final stat line with 9-of-22 for 77 passing yards and a 50.8 passer rating.

It is hard to say that in a game where they held the opposing offense to only three points that the defense missed opportunities, but the Patriots in fact had a few notable chances to turn the field that they did not take advantage of.

Two dropped interceptions, one from safety Devin McCourty and another from outside cornerback Jonathan Jones, highlighted potential opportunities to give New England’s offense good starting field position.

While neither missed chance ended up truly costing the team, they were times when the Patriots had a chance to play complementary football and give their struggling offense some extra juice.

Altogether, while this game was a bit of a snooze to watch, this New England team did look significantly more well-rounded than they had in previous weeks.

Offensive Line Woes

Veteran center David Andrews was back for the start of the game, after missing multiple games with a concussion. To say that the Patriots had missed his presence would be an understatement – the offensive line just did not look as put together with him absent.

However, late in the first quarter, Andrews was hit from behind while blocking for running back Rhamondre Stevenson on a screen pass. His left leg got twisted up going to the ground, and he had to be helped off the field by trainers. Andrews was later ruled out of the game with a thigh injury that could have potential long-term ramifications.

Without Andrews, New England’s offensive line turned back into, well, a mess. Against a talented New York defensive front, they allowed six total sacks, with many coming on pivotal plays for the Patriots.

On a 3rd and 12 late in the second quarter, 380-pound left tackle Trent Brown got pushed back into Jones and knocked him to the ground. Later on in the game, another sack prevented New England from getting the first down in the red zone and forced them to kick a field goal.

As the CBS broadcast noted, Sunday’s game was also the third straight game in which the Patriots allowed four or more sacks. With Andrews possibly gone for the immediate future, the team quickly needs to shore up their offensive line play without him.

More Pointless Penalties

If the offensive line was not the main area of concern for the Patriots offensively, it had to be the continuation of their ability to take pointless penalties in key situations.

In total, New England committed eight penalties for 55 yards during Sunday’s contest. However, some of them were taken at times when the Patriots were gaining offensive momentum.

A holding penalty on offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste late in the second quarter pushed the Patriots back 10 yards on what was initially a makeable 3rd and 2. Later, an illegal block in the back call on wide receiver DeVante Parker turned a positive first down play into a negative one.

Penalties have been an issue for this Patriots team throughout the season. While other issues on the team have been more at the forefront of being resolved, these calls are significantly hurting their offensive momentum, and with such momentum being at a premium right now, it is important that they fix these mistakes soon.

 

Special Teams

What a day for special teams on both sides.

Jets punter Braden Mann netted 458 total yards of punting and averaged 45.8 yards per punt. Patriots punter Michael Palardy, filling in for injured starter Jake Bailey, also played well in his team debut, netting 317 yards and a 45.3 average of his own.

However, in a game that featured 17 (!!!) combined punts, it was the last one that was by far the most impactful. Patriots rookie punt returner Marcus Jones had tried to make the most of his three return opportunities earlier in the game but was only able to net 25 yards on those occasions.

With just 26 seconds remaining in the game, Mann booted his tenth punt of the game, but he made a crucial mistake. While many of Mann’s punts had significant hangtime and had been angled toward the sidelines, this one was a line drive right down the middle of the field.

Jones did the rest.

84 yards later, the Patriots had their game-winning score, and the crowd at Gillette Stadium finally had something to cheer about. Jones’ return was the first punt return for a touchdown in the NFL this season and showcased why the team took the speedy cornerback out of Houston in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire