In what ended up being a lost year for the Patriots, they ended the season on a positive note Sunday, beating the Jets with 21 straight second-half points on the way to a 28-14 win at Gillette Stadium.
In what could have been his final start in a New England uniform, Cam Newton went 21-for-30 for 242 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 79 yards, and caught a third-quarter touchdown via Jakobi Meyers.
On the other side of the ball, Sam Darnold went 22-for-33 for 258 yards, with one touchdown while getting picked off by J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones.
New England (7-9) snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. New York (2-14) saw a two-game winning streak go by the wayside with the loss.
The Patriots got on the board first with an efficient drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass to James White that made it 7-0. It stayed that way until right before the half, when Darnold put together a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Chris Herndon to tie the game heading into halftime.
New York continued rolling at the start of the second half, when Darnold engineered another scoring drive, with the big play coming when the quarterback found Breshad Perriman for a 53-yard gainer. That was followed by a 1-yard plunge from Josh Adams to make it 14-7.
That set the stage for New England’s comeback. The Patriots tied it late in the third quarter on a Meyers-to-Newton touchdown pass, the second touchdown pass of the season for Meyers, the former N.C. State quarterback. Then, a neat, 26-yard over-the-shoulder pass from Newton to Devin Asiasi — the first career TD for the rookie tight end — at the start of the fourth quarter gave New England a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
As a light snow fell down the stretch, the Patriots would add a 31-yard touchdown reception from Sony Michel — his first NFL career receiving touchdown — to make it 28-14 with just under 12 minutes to end the scoring. Jones picked off Darnold in the end zone with just under four minutes to go to effectively end things.
Here’s how it all happened:
Pats win, 28-14 – 4:05 p.m.
That’ll do it. Patriots will win their regular season finale and finish 7-9, 28-14.
Good finish for Patriots – 3:58 p.m.
As much as they struggled at times over the first two-plus quarters, it’s been a good finish to this one from New England on both sides of the ball.
Another pick for Darnold – 3:51 p.m.
The Patriots will get the ball back here with 3:49 to go in the game after a Jonathan Jones interception stopped a New York drive. New England will get the ball at its own 20-yard line.
Michel makes it 28-14 – 3:35 p.m.
A 31-yard touchdown reception from Sony Michel gives the Patriots another seven points, and puts the Patriots up 28-14 with 11:42 to go in the season. It’s Michel’s first career NFL receiving touchdown.
Sony Michel scores his first career receiving TD. #GoPats
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Pats take the lead – 3:24 p.m.
Nice over the shoulder pass from Newton to Devin Asiasi gives the Patriots the 21-14 lead. Good to see Asiasi finishing the year on a strong note — a nice route and a well-executed pass play from both Newton and Asiasi gives New England the lead with 13:56 to go in regulation.
Jackson picks off Darnold – 3:20 p.m.
The ninth pick of the year for J.C. Jackson gives New England the ball back with nine seconds left in the third quarter. The Patriots will get the ball at the New York 45 with an excellent chance to go ahead here at the start of the fourth.
Newton catches TD pass to tie it – 3:12 p.m.
Nice razzle dazzle play there, as Meyers finds Cam Newton for a 19-yard touchdown pass for the score. (Might as well empty the playbook now, right?) Regardless, I love the play call and the execution. It’s tied at 14 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
CAM NEWTON RECEIVING TOUCHDOWN 🚨 #GoPats
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Strong sequence from Pats’ D – 3:05 p.m.
Good sequence there for the Patriots’ defense, one that started with a very nice punt from Jake Bailey. Adam Butler’s sack on first down started the ball rolling, and stops on second and third downs forced the punt. Let’s see if the New England offense can keep the momentum moving forward.
Injury update – 2:58 p.m.
Patriots injury update: Adrian Phillips (hip) has been downgraded to out.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 3, 2021
Miserable second-half start – 2:48 p.m.
More issues in the secondary for the Patriots as the third quarter gets underway. Darnold connected on a 53-yarder to Perriman to get the Jets into position, and a few plays later, they followed that with a 1-yard plunge from Adams for the touchdown. Not sure the New England defense could have had a worse start to the half. It’s 14-7 New York with 11:40 to go in the third quarter, pending the extra point. Darnold is 15-for-19 for 209 yards, while Perriman has three catches for 84 yards.
Halftime takeaways – 2:28 p.m.
Two quarters are in the books in Foxborough, and the game is tied at seven.
Newton: 12-for-19, 129 yards, 1 TD; 4 carries, 54 yards
Michel: 8 carries, 33 yards
Meyers: 5 catches, 57 yards
White: 3 catches, 29 yards, 1 TD
Darnold: 13-for-17, 146 yards, 1 TD
Here are a few quick takeaways:
•The Patriots were doing a lot of shuffling on defense early, either out of necessity because of the injuries at linebacker or because they want to get a look at some new faces in some new places. Kyle Dugger has moved from safety to more of an inside/middle linebacker role. In addition, Joejuan Williams had played significant snaps at cornerback, while Myles Bryant has lined up at safety frequently over the first two quarters. Chase Winovich was able to deliver good, consistent pressure over the first two quarters — he has two sacks in the half.
•The biggest red flag was the end-of-half issues for the Patriots’ defense, a replay of something we saw at the end of the first half against New York earlier in the year. New England had them pinned deep in their own end, but Darnold led a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes left in the half. Bryant committed a series of gaffes on that drive, and could very well be done for the day as a result.
•While there weren’t that many opportunities, it was a good special teams half from New England. J.J. Taylor was back on kickoffs, and handled his chances cleanly. Gunner Olszewski made something out of nothing with an 18-yard punt return. And Nick Folk connected on his one extra-point chance.
•The Jets will get the ball to start the second half.
Ugly close to the half for NE D – 2:20 p.m.
And just as we think it, the New England defense completes an ill-timed breakdown. Sam Darnold and the Jets finish off a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to make it 7-7 with 1:40 left in the half. Compounding the woes was a flag on Myles Bryant, who had an epic sequence there, one that could have him sidelined for the rest of the afternoon. The penalty will be assessed on the kickoff.
End of half issues – 2:17 p.m.
Rough sequence there for Myles Bryant, who missed a tackle and then allowed a completion along the sideline. The first game against the Jets, the Patriots’ defense melted down at the end of the first half. Will we see history repeat itself today?
James White moving the chains – 2:04 p.m.
James White was a key part of that offensive sequence: A good grab from Jakobi Meyers on a third-down pass play got things cranked up for the Patriots, but that was followed by a 10-yard gainer from White to get the ball close to midfield, and another 12-yarder from White to get New England well into New York territory. The Patriots were in field-goal range, but Newton took an ugly sack that forced New England to punt. It’s still 7-0 Patriots with 5:47 to go in the half. Newton is 9-for-13 for 103 yards and a touchdown, and Meyers had three catches for 37 yards.
Pats still up 7-0 – 1:48 p.m.
Not much at the end of the first quarter and start of the second, other than a few punts. Both offenses seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut. It’s still 7-0 New England with 11:30 to go in the first half.
Pats’ defensive shuffling – 1:33 p.m.
Lots of younger faces in the defensive lineup, either out of necessity or because Belichick and the coaching staff want to get a look at them. Joejuan Williams is at cornerback, Dugger remains at inside linebacker, and Myles Bryant is playing a safety role.
Phillip questionable to return – 1:31 p.m.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) January 3, 2021
Asiasi catches his first pass – 1:28 p.m.
Devin Asiasi had the first catch of his career there, a 13-yarder that helped move the chains and get the drive started. But New England ultimately punted it away when Newton and the Pats couldn’t pick up a third-down. Overall, Newton is 4-for-4 for 43 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 49 yards on the ground. There’s 4:22 left in the first quarter, and it’s 7-0, New Englan
Dugger at LB? – 1:25 p.m.
Good start for the New England defense — the group forces a punt from the Jets midway through the first quarter. One thing worth noting? With the Patriots thin at linebacker, rookie safety Kyle Dugger is playing some inside linebacker here in the early going, and playing well. We talked about youngsters taking advantage of some opportunities today, and while Dugger has done well since the start of the season, his work so far today is particularly impressive.
Record run from Cam – 1:16 p.m.
Cam Newton’s 49-yard run is the longest by a QB in #Patriots franchise history.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) January 3, 2021
Pats on the board – 1:10 p.m.
A 7-yard toss from Newton to James White makes it 7-0 with 11:23 to go in the first quarter. Heck of a start for Sony Michel, who piled up some quality yardage on that opening drive, including a 17-yard reception. But the big play of the drive was the 49-yard gain from Cam Newton, who got New England into the red zone with his big gain. Overall, a good opening sequence for the Patriots, who pushed the tempo a bit on the way to the score. Newton has two carries for 44 yards and Michel has 3 carries for 26 yards.
Jets win the toss – 1:01 p.m.
Patriots lose the toss. Jets defer. New England will open on offense.
Price Prediction – 12:55 p.m.
When it comes to today, I like the Patriots. Cam finishes his New England career on a positive note. And J.J. Taylor gives everyone something to look forward to when it comes to 2021. Let’s say Patriots 17, Jets 10.
What’s next for Cam, Patriots? – 12:45 p.m.
By now, most of you guys have heard of the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that indicated the Patriots are set to move on from Cam Newton. To me — and I’m doing my best to read between the lines here — it sounds like a case where Schefter is assessing the situation and setting a level of manageable expectations for everyone heading into the offseason. Really, it just seems the best thing for all concerned if the two sides part in the next few months. Going forward, I think Cam has to make a decision — does he want to go to a place where he’s pretty much assured of a starting job? Or has he reached a point in his career where he might be willing to take less as potentially part of a prove-it deal moving forward? Going to be interesting to see what happens when it comes to the next phase of his career. As for the Pats, you find a trusted veteran who can hold the fort for a year or two (ideally in free agency), draft a new guy, and keep Stidham.
Chilly day at Gillette – 12:05 p.m.
Looks like it’s going to be cold and gray with highs in the 30s this afternoon in Foxborough. There’s a chance of precipitation — it sounds like there are some flakes here and there, but nothing substantial. Looks like it’ll be the first game all season for the Patriots where it’ll be in the 30s for kickoff.
Cam Newton pregame fashion analysis – 11:55 a.m.
Our pal Tim has his instant analysis of Cam Newton’s pregame wardrobe.
Cam Newton instant reaction/analysis:
– Easily the most normal looking shoes he’s ever worn.
– Probably the most understated outfit he’s ever worn.
– Some inspiration from Josh Baskin very likely. pic.twitter.com/nA7geLeUQ7
— Tim Ryan (@TheSportsHernia) January 3, 2021
Feeling a draft already? – 11:52 a.m.
With the Patriots out of the playoff picture, we’re going to eschew the usual Pats’ fans rooting guide to this week’s action. But with this story from Nicole Yang, it’s important to note that while New England currently has the 14th overall pick in the draft, the Patriots could rise as high as 10th if the following occurs.
•The Patriots lose to the Jets
•Broncos beat the Raiders
•Cowboys beat the Giants
•Chargers beat the Chiefs
•Vikings beat the Lions
•Washington beats the Eagles
It’s worth noting that the Patriots have only drafted in the top 10 twice in the Bill Belichick Era — in 2008, when they took Jerod Mayo at No. 8, and 2001, when the Patriots selected Richard Seymour sixth overall.
Inactives announced – 11:39 a.m.
The Patriots have announced their inactives for today:
Linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Terez Hall are down, leaving New England perilously thin at the position. In addition, cornerbacks D’Angelo Ross and Dee Virgin — two back of the depth chart puzzle pieces — are out, which shouldn’t impact things all that much. And finally, veteran Brian Hoyer is inactive again for New England, as Jarrett Stidham continues in his role as primary backup to Cam Newton.
David Andrews and Shaq Mason were ruled out on Friday, which will put more on the shoulders of Joe Thuney — who could end up at center today — and Michael Onwenu. In addition, Damien Harris won’t play, which could clear the way for youngster J.J. Taylor to get significant snaps against the Jets.
Greetings from Foxborough – 11:13 a.m.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) January 3, 2021
How to approach this one? – 11:08 a.m.
Heard someone say this in the last few days, and in a lot of ways, I think it’s a good way to approach today’s game: It’s the first preseason contest for 2021. There are going to be a few guys who are putting on the New England uniform for the last time this afternoon, but there are also a lot of younger players who should treat this game as a chance to make a real impression when it comes to next season. I would think that guys like J.J. Taylor will get an opportunity to play significant snaps this afternoon, and they need to seize the day. I’m going to be fascinated to see what the younger players might ultimately be capable of, given the chance.
Finally, the finale – 11 a.m.
Welcome to the final football Sunday of the season for the Patriots. This afternoon, New England will face the New York Jets in the regular-season finale for both teams. Even though the Patriots (6-9) will miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they’ll be angling to finish the year on an up note. There’s also the possibility that several players on both sides of the ball could be playing in their final game in New England — it’s a group that includes Cam Newton, James White, Julian Edelman and Lawrence Guy. We’ll have all the updates throughout the afternoon here, but we’ll kick things off with our pregame reading list — the only way to get you prepped for this afternoon’s game.
Pregame reading list – 11 a.m.