Patriots

Mac Jones had his best day of the season, but it wasn’t enough.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts after rejecting Hunter Henry’s touchdown receiver. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

The Patriots lost to the Vikings 33-26 in a Thanksgiving matchup. New England fell to 6–5 in the defeat.

Mac Jones played his best game of the season, but the Patriots’ defense – coupled with some special team mistakes – left Bill Belichick’s team on the wrong side of the final score.

Here are some takeaways:

Mac Jones had his breakthrough match, but it wasn’t enough.

For those waiting for Mac Jones to release his impressive stat line, Thursday provided a glimpse into his potential. The two-year-old quarterback played by far his best game of the season, completing 28-of-39 passes for 382 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The passing action game seemed particularly effective, including a 37-yard pass to Hunter Henry in the third quarter:

It was a solid day for Jones, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to help the Patriots win. And while Jones was good, the New England offensive stalled in the late game when it was most needed.

After kicking a field goal and taking a 26–23 lead in the third quarter, New England went three-pointers and landed on two more shots, turned the ball on that shot, and failed to get beyond the 20-yard line on a final desperate run at the end match.

The silver lining of the loss should have been the decidedly positive steps that the Patriots offensive (specifically Jones) seemed to be taking. However, the resulting defeat and late-game struggles loom over the team’s progress, however encouraging they may have been.

Attacking (and defending) the red zone was the difference.

Although Jones was largely effective in the game and Rhamondre Stevenson was still a dominant force with the ball in his hands, New England still led 0–3 in the red zone.

Granted, there was some controversy on one of these trips (more on that below), but the fact remains that New England came in 31st in red zone touchdown percentage that day, and did nothing to to change it.

The Vikings, on the other hand, went 3-5 in the red zones, a high percentage that the Patriots’ defense usually doesn’t allow.

This, simply put, turned out to be the difference in a game with such narrow margins.

The defense included Dalvin Cook but not Justin Jefferson.

Belichick’s game plan against the Vikings’ offensive seemed to focus on limiting Minnesota Dalvin Cook and putting the ball in the hands of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It worked, at least half of it. New England kept Cook in check, giving the veteran just 42 yards in the run for a 22nd lead. He caught four passes, but for only 14 yards.

However, the other half of the game plan was ruined. The cousins ​​had a good day: 30 of 37 for 299 yards in the air with three touchdowns.

And while the Patriots’ defense limited Cook, it couldn’t handle Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The 23-year-old superstar caught nine passes (11 goals) for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Jefferson made several clutch plays even after the touchdown, including a 36-yard finish all the way to the Patriots’ 15-yard line in the fourth quarter for an eventual game-winning touchdown.

Officiating (and NFL rules) has proven controversial.

While the subject of NFL refereeing is constantly being discussed, the Patriots were subjected to both missed calls and controversial summons in quick succession on Thursday night.

The first came in the third quarter after the Patriots touched down to take a 23-16 lead. Kene Nwangwu, returning from the Vikings, ran 97 yards after the kickoff kickoff to score a touchdown. Replays seemed to show that New England’s Kyle Dugger was kept on the field, preventing him from potentially making a tackle to save a touchdown.

When Jones and the Patriots got the ball back, they drove offfield into the red zone. In third place and goal at the six-yard line in Minnesota, Jones seemed to link with Henry for another touchdown. However, when the game was reviewed, it was considered that Henry had not completed the catch, despite breaking the plane of the goal line with the ball in his hands.

Former NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant who was himself involved in controversial no-hook the ruling tweeted his blunt thoughts on the NFL’s decision a few years ago:

The consensus among NBC television announcers that the umpires made the correct decision based on the NFL’s rule definition suggests that the controversy over the issue was less about the umpires than the continued lack of a clear definition of what exactly is a catch.

A week after the winning game, the special teams proved costly.

In Week 11, it was Marcus Jones’ punt return that gave the Patriots a decisive victory over the Jets.

In Week 12, it’s Pierre Strong Jr.’s penalty kick. – running into a fourth and third kicker on the Vikings’ 36-yard line with 11:04 left in the game – helped New England lose.

This was a major mistake by a rookie running back (who also plays for special teams). Given a second chance to drive, Cousins ​​quickly led the Vikings downfield for a touchdown.

And although Dugger was fouled during the Vikings’ return to land early in the game, the game was nevertheless a collective defeat for the Patriots’ special teams who failed to stop the ball.

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#takeaways #Patriots #Thanksgiving #loss #Vikings

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