Patriots vs. Jets takeaways: Rhamondre Stevenson, defense get New England back on track

Stevenson, Patriots defense shine as NE continues dominance of Jets originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

You can throw records out the window when the New England Patriots face the New York Jets.

While the 3-4 Patriots entered MetLife Stadium on Sunday trailing the 5-2 Jets in the AFC East standings, Bill Belichick's club once again dispatched its division rival, winning 22-17 to pick up its 13th consecutive victory over New York.

While Mac Jones wasn't spectacular, kicker Nick Folk (5-for-5 on field goal attempts) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (143 total yards) carried the day for New England, which hasn't lost to the Jets since December 2015.

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Here are four takeaways from Sunday's victory, which moves the Patriots to 4-4 ahead of a Week 9 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.

Mac Jones makes marginal progress

Jones earned a win over the 5-2 Jets and didn't get benched for Bailey Zappe. That's the good news..

The bad news is Jones still left plenty to be desired in his first full game since Week 3. The 23-year-old completed 24 of 35 passes for 194 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception, his seventh in five games this season.

While you could argue the pick wasn't Jones' fault -- Jets defensive end Bryce Huff burned Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon to get his hand on the ball just as Jones threw it -- Jones also caught a huge break late in the second quarter when he threw a pick-six that was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Jones has now committed a turnover in every game he's played this season and is up to 20 interceptions in 22 NFL starts.

The 2021 first-round pick deserves credit for a few strong plays. He hit Jakobi Meyers for a go-ahead touchdown pass on fourth-and-1 early in the third quarter and threw a dime to Hunter Henry for a first down in the first half.

Still, the Patriots need to Jones to be much better than he was Sunday if they're serious about making the postseason.

Rhamondre Stevenson for Offensive MVP?

Amid inconsistent play at quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver, Stevenson continues to state his case as the team's best offensive player.

Stevenson was a weapon as a runner and receiver Sunday, racking up 71 rushing yards on 16 carries in addition to 72 yards on a team-high seven receptions. He broke Jets tackles on a consistent basis, helping the Patriots move the ball despite Jones' struggles in the passing game.

After accounting for 143 of New England's 288 total yards on Sunday, Stevenson is averaging 116.2 total yards per game over his last six contests.

Offensive line needs help

It's hard to be too critical after a win over a 5-2 team, but the Patriots' offensive line was a liability Sunday.

Jones faced consistent pressure all day, as starter Marcus Cannon and backup Isaiah Wynn both struggled at right tackle. Left guard Cole Strange also looked overwhelmed against star Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, prompting New England to briefly shift Wynn to guard.

The Patriots will need to rely on their running game and keep Mac Jones upright if they want to have success in 2022. That starts up front, where New England had major issues without starting center David Andrews in New York.

Patriots defense has Zach Wilson seeing ghosts

If you want to give Zach Wilson a scare on Halloween, dress up as the Patriots defense.

The Jets' 2021 first-round pick was a turnover machine Sunday at MetLife Stadium, throwing three interceptions to two touchdown passes. Devin McCourty hauled in two of Wilson's picks, both of which were extremely ill-advised.

Wilson made a handful of strong throws in the first half, but he took far too many unnecessary risks, trying to force the ball into tight coverage on scramble drills.

Wilson entered Sunday 4-0 as the Jets' starter this season with just one interception. But the Patriots again had his number Sunday, as he now has two touchdown passes and seven interceptions in three career games vs. New England.

While Wilson may have more physical talent and upside than his fellow 2021 draftee, Jones is the smarter QB -- which made the difference in Week 8.