Graphic courtesy of Sean Buckley
Although it came down to the game’s final play, the Patriots finally snapped their four-game losing streak with a 30-27 win over the New York Jets Monday night.
Following a tough loss to the Buffalo Bills, hope for a 12th straight division title had finally fallen out of reach. But if the Patriots wanted to remain in the wild card race, a win against a historically bad Jets team was a must.
The Patriots came into the game with the same offensive momentum that they found in the second half against Buffalo, scoring on their first and only possession of the first quarter, giving them a 7-3 lead at the quarter’s end. But in the second quarter, the secondary began to break down, as the Jets were able to put up two touchdowns and a field goal. By halftime, the Jets held a surprising 20-10 lead.
Despite the Patriots offense continuing to produce in the second half, the defense was no help, as the Jets continued to put up points throughout the third quarter. The Patriots found themselves in a 27-17 hole at the end of the third quarter after cornerback J.C. Jackson tripped himself up, leaving Jets wideout Breshard Perriman wide open for his second touchdown reception of the game.
When it seemed like the Patriots were about to hit their lowest point in 20 years, they were given life in the fourth quarter, when Jets quarterback Joe Flacco threw an interception into double coverage deep downfield, despite having two open receivers at shorter range. The Patriots turned that into a touchdown, tying the game at 27-27. Then, after a crucial stop by the defense, Newton led the Patriots down the field one more time, and Nick Folk kicked the game winning field goal as time expired.
In reality, this might’ve been a game that the Patriots didn’t deserve to win, and it’s because of their defense.
While they did a great job of containing the run, the secondary had their worst performance of the season, allowing Flacco to pass for 257 yards. Jackson was burned twice by Breshard Perriman, leading to two Jets touchdowns, and if it wasn’t for the Jets’ major choke job, the defense probably wouldn’t have been able to put the Patriots in a position to win the game.
The offense played its best football in weeks. Newton connected on 27 of his 35 passes for 274 yards, and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers had a career game on his 24th birthday, hauling in 12 of his 14 targets for 169 yards.
The running game was also effective, as Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead accumulated 127 yards on the ground, and two of the Patriots’ touchdowns came from goal-line sneaks from Newton.
This Sunday, the Patriots host reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens in a primetime matchup. This is probably a reach game for the Patriots, since the Ravens are much more complete on both sides of the ball.
If the Patriots want a chance at winning this game, the offense has to continue to produce the way they have since the second half of the Buffalo game. This won’t be an easy task, as the Ravens’ defense ranks top 10 in both rushing and passing yards allowed.
Both phases of the defense will have to play their best game of the season. The secondary needs to rebound, and more importantly, the run defense has to have another good showing. Jackson earned his MVP title last season because of his ability to turn any play into a big run, so the Patriots have to be ready to contain him and force him to throw the ball.
Kickoff for Sunday night’s game will be at 8:20 p.m., televised nationally on NBC. Bob Socci and Scott Zolak have the call of the local radio broadcast on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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