Patriots

The Patriots need to get rid of their nasty habit of stepping back when it looks like they can put points on the board.

Patriots fans celebrate as Marcus Jones scores on a last-minute punt return. Photo by AP/Steven Senne

Welcome to the Unconventional Review, an immediate response to the standout elements, stats, and story lines of the latest Patriots game. . .

Question: When is 17 total points allowed in an NFL game?

Answer: When the last of 17 will culminate in one of the most spectacular and important comebacks you’ve ever seen.

The Patriots have a 6-4 record and are in the middle of the AFC playoffs after Sunday’s 10-3 victory over the Jets thanks to several things: A stellar defensive performance in which the Patriots held the Jets for a total of 103 yards and just 2 in the second half, quarterback ineptitude The Jets, Zach Wilson, and most of all, the excellent timing of Marcus Jones, a punt-returning rookie revealing his electric moves.

With 5 seconds left and tied at 3, Jones put up 10 points from Jets player Braden Mannp shoe of the day and gave 84 yards for the afternoon’s only touchdown. It was a spectacular, almost mind-blowing finish to the game where the Patriots went 14.p straight win over the Jets.

The Patriots have now won three in a row and five out of six. While their flaws weren’t completely fixed during farewell week, they did get another win and a little more time to fix them.

Some further thoughts, after reviewing immediately. . .

Three players worth watching

Players suggested in Unconventional Preview: David Andrews, Matthew Judon, Sauce Gardner

Mateusz Judon: Another Sunday, another typically spectacular performance by the defender of the candidate… or maybe even the favourite? Judon finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a tackle for the loss, sacking Wilson to thwart the Jets’ series early in the third and fourth quarters. He now has 13 sacks, making him the third season in franchise history, second only to Andre Tippett’s two best seasons. (The Hall of Famer racked up 18.5 sacks in 1984 and 16.5 the following season.) Judon’s only negative mark came when he committed an offside penalty in the third and -4 in the second quarter, giving the Jets their first loss in a completed drive. with Greg Zuerlein’s only field goal of the game. That’s pretty easy to forgive, considering how spectacular it was once again.

Kyle Dugger: It didn’t seem to get much attention right after the game, but I thought it was one of the best third-year security games as the Patriots. He finished with seven tackles, four solos, a sack and two tackles for the loss, and was dominant in the fourth quarter. With just under 11 minutes left, he pounced on Wilson for a sack that looked briefly as if it could lead to Davon Godchaux scoring before the hapless Jets quarterback was sent off. With 4:33 left, Dugger grimaced to take a deep shot down the left touchline to Tyler Johnson, even grabbing the ball out of bounds himself. Indirectly, he orchestrated Jones’s winning punt return, finding a third and 1 shot to Michael Carter in the flat, and drilled it, losing 1 yard, forcing a fatal punt.

Marcus Jones: I can’t believe Jones’ winning game is the second most influential punt comeback in Patriot history, behind 55-yard Troy Brown, who scored his first touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship game against the Steelers. What else could be in this conversation? Jones actually suffered an injury in the first game of the fourth quarter when Judon sacked Wilson for third and the Patriots had to burn time for Myles Bryant to come onto the field to serve a comeback. (The circumstances of Jones’ absence left the CBS broadcast crew stunned.) Jones looked rather healthy as he flew past various Jets on his victorious return, didn’t he?

Complaint about the game

Mac Jones said after the game that he felt the Patriots’ offense had made significant progress, and he should feel that way after making 23 of 27 passes for 246 yards. But the Patriots need to get rid of their nasty habit of stepping back when it looks like they can put points on the board. This happened at least three times on Sunday:

1. With his third and sixteenth points with just over six minutes left in the first half, Stevenson played Game of the Day until the immediate return of legendary punter Marcus Jones. Catching a pass near the line of scrimmage on Jets 30, he eluded Quincy Williams, got past LaMarcus Joyner and CJ Mosley for 24, and was eventually beaten by Michael Carter for a spectacular 19-yard rush. But the drive fell apart, with Yodna Cajuste’s holding penalty and Carl Lawson’s sack costing the Patriots 19 yards of fielding. The once-promising ride ended when Nick Folk missed a 44-yard field goal.

2. On the Patriots’ first possession in the third quarter, Damien Harris broke free for a 30-yard run and then made a 15-yard grab to lead the Patriots to the Jets 22. But Micheal Clemons sacked Jones, Rhamondre Stevenson lost a yard, and James Ferentz was called to stop. This once-promising drive ended with Folk missing from 43 yards.

3. After a Jets three-pointer and an out midway through the third quarter, Jones found Jakob Meyers and Hunter Henry for 20 back-to-back yards. But after Stevenson’s two runs gained nothing, Jones was sacked by Bryce Huff for a 6-yard loss. Palardy time.

There is no doubt that the offensive has made some progress. But then again, when the starting quarterback has a total of four touchdown passes in his seven starts, he has a long way to go.

Three thoughts scrawled in the margins

The Jets had six sacks from six different players and had a dozen in two games against the Patriots. We probably should have taken it as a sign that Quincy Williams and John Franklin-Myers buried Jones for a 7-yard loss in the Patriots’ first action shot. It’s hard to imagine a lane capable of much improvement if David Andrews’ thigh injury he suffered in the first quarter while blocking an on-screen pass to Stevenson is as bad as feared… Didn’t it look like Harris actually had more touches than Stevenson? He didn’t—Harris had 10 and Stevenson had 21. But Harris was particularly effective, with eight carries for 65 yards and two receptions for another 28. Stevenson ran 15 times for just 26 yards against a strong Jets defense, but was the Patriots’ top receiver with six caches for 56 yards… Might as well end it with a reference to the theme of those days, punting. Michael Palardy did a good job in his debut for the Patriots, batting seven times for a 45.3-yard average, placing two in field 20, with one touchback almost going out of bounds in field 5.

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