Morning Sports Update

Domonique Foxworth described what the Patriots can do to be ‘legitimate contenders’

Though skeptical of New England's Super Bowl chances, Foxworth admitted that the Patriots are "playing better football now than they have all season."

Mac Jones
Mac Jones. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

The Braves defeated the Astros 7-0 in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night to clinch Atlanta’s first title since 1995.

And tonight, the Celtics get a chance to end the team’s three-game losing streak with a visit to Orlando to play the Magic at 7 p.m.

Are the Patriots contenders? In a Wednesday morning ESPN “Get Up!” segment, NFL analyst Domonique Foxworth discussed whether or not he sees the Patriots as AFC contenders.

“I guess they’re contenders,” Foxworth acknowledged. “I think that they have a great shot of making the playoffs. Do I think they’re going to win the Super Bowl? No, but they’re playing better football now than they have all season.”

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At 4-4, New England would barely miss the playoffs if the regular season ended today. Of course, there are still nine games to go, and the Patriots are coming off of a quality win over the Chargers. Bill Belichick’s team has now won two straight after falling to 2-4 earlier in the season.

One crucial factor for New England will be the continued development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

“I’ve been rooting for them to kind of take the reins off of Mac Jones,” said Foxworth, “and they’ve done it a little bit more. But I think if we were going to consider them legitimate contenders, they’re going to have to let him throw the ball a lot more than they have up until this point, and take more aggressive shots down the field.”

With no clear frontrunner in the conference, the Patriots could take advantage of a more open field.

“I do think considering how much of the AFC is a mess, they’re contenders,” Foxworth concluded.

The Patriots will try to move above .500 on Sunday against the Panthers at 1 p.m.

Trivia: When the Patriots defeated the Broncos on this day in 2003 thanks in part to an intentional safety (see below), Tom Brady overcame which opposing quarterback starting for Denver that day?

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(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: He was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 1995 for Florida State.

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On this day: In 2003, the Patriots defeated the Broncos 30-26 thanks partly to a truly unorthodox strategy from Bill Belichick.

Trailing 23-24 with under three minutes remaining and facing a fourth down at their own one-yard line, the Patriots elected to take an intentional safety. New England’s Lonnie Paxton snapped the ball off the upright, handing Denver two more points, but securing better field position for the Patriots.

On the ensuing drive, Belichick’s defense was able to hold the Broncos to a three-and-out, handing the ball back to Tom Brady.

Taking over at the Patriots’ 42-yard line, Brady led New England downfield in six plays, finding David Givens for an 18-yard touchdown pass, which proved to be the game-winner.

Patriots intentional safety 2003

Daily highlight: Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks made several spectacular saves in a row, even after losing his blocker mid-play.

Trivia answer: Danny Kanell

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