Patriots

5 takeaways from the Patriots’ win over the Jets

It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for New England's 13th consecutive win over New York.

Patriots takeaways
Devin McCourty celebrates an interception with the Patriots defense. AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The Patriots managed to emerge with a 22-17 win over the Jets on Sunday, improving the team’s record to 4-4.

It was hardly a vintage display for Bill Belichick’s team, but it was enough to get the legendary coach his 325th career win as an NFL head coach (officially moving him into second place on the all-time list behind only Don Shula).

Here are a few takeaways:

Mac Jones: Better lucky than good (for now).

Mac Jones needed a strong performance and a win against the Jets after the disaster that was last week’s home loss to the Bears.

In the end, he was only able to get the latter, but both he and Patriots fans will take it for now. Jones, who finished the day 24 of 35 for 194 yards passing (adding a touchdown and an interception) showed resilience by leading New England’s first possession of the second half for a touchdown after a tough start to the game, and should get credit for escaping a tough division matchup on the road with a win.

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And yet, his performance itself left much to be desired. At several key junctures, Jones was actually fairly lucky not to have been punished for making bad decisions.

The most prominent of these came towards the end of the first half. Two plays after a Zach Wilson interception, New England’s offense had the ball at the Jets’ 25-yard line with just 37 seconds remaining in the half.

An apparent miscommunication between Jones and his receiver left his pass floating in the arms of New York defensive back Michael Carter II. Carter promptly ran the ball back for what seemed to be a touchdown, but the play was called back due to a roughing the passer call on Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers.

Jones also fumbled in the game (but it was recovered by the Patriots) and tried to force a third down throw into double-coverage in the fourth quarter as New England was trying to run down the clock. Had even one of those plays worked out slightly differently, the game might have finished with a different outcome.

The only important stat for Jones and the Patriots afterward is the win, but the 24-year-old’s decision-making with the football continues to be a concern.

The defense returned to form after a disappointing Week 7.

A week after giving up 243 rushing yards to the Bears in a loss, the Patriots defense got off to an inauspicious start. New York’s offense, led by Wilson, scored on two of its first three drives.

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But even as Jones and the Patriots offense struggled to respond (posting an interception and a turnover-on-downs in back-to-back possessions after the Jets’ second quarter touchdown), New England’s defense rose up to keep the game close.

It started by forcing a quick three-and-out, and continued with the first of what would prove to be three interceptions against Wilson.

By the second half, Belichick’s defense found a rhythm, pitching a shutout until New York’s final drive when the game was all but in hand.

The pass rush managed only a pair of sacks (both in the fourth quarter) but the stats belied how effective the unit was in constantly forcing Wilson to scramble and make off-balance throws.

This had a direct impact on the game, with Devin McCourty notching a pair of interceptions as he took advantage of Jones’s forced and wayward throws.

The offensive line still has some issues.

David Andrews, who suffered a concussion on a blindside hit in Week 7, missed the game as he remains in the league’s protocol. Measuring his loss in the lineup is difficult to fully quantify, but the overall inconsistency from New England’s offensive line on Sunday is probably testament to Andrews’s importance to the team (both in terms of leadership and ability).

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There were plenty of individual struggles to point towards, including rookie guard Cole Strange. The 2022 first-round pick looked relatively solid through seven weeks, but had what was clearly his worst game of the year on Sunday. He committed multiple penalties and was beaten by Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams for a sack on Jones.

Eventually, Strange was even replaced for a time at left guard by Isaiah Wynn.

Wynn, another former Patriots first-round pick, had his own share of problems against New York. He played inconsistently in the first half at tackle, allowing a sack (the fifth consecutive game in which he’s done that). He was sent to the bench for a time in favor of veteran Marcus Cannon.

Unfortunately for Jones and the Patriots offense, Cannon proved no better. He allowed a defender to get a hand on Jones’s arm on what proved to be the Patriots’ quarterback’s lone interception of the day (the ball deflected high in the air as a result), and he allowed pressure on what would’ve been the pick-six before halftime (negated only by Franklin-Myers’ penalty).

In spite of the positive outcome on Sunday, it’s clear that the Patriots have work to do on the offensive line.

Rhamondre Stevenson can do it all.

For yet another week, Rhamondre Stevenson led the Patriots in total yards. Even with fellow running back Damien Harris now back in the lineup after a hamstring injury earlier in the season, Stevenson once again saw a majority of the carries.

Yet for all of his effectiveness as a runner — a job which he excelled at — it was Stevenson’s contributions in the passing game that have further elevated his status.

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Creating a safety valve for Jones, Stevenson caught seven of eight targets, totaling 72 yards in the process.

Even with inconsistent offensive line play and a periodic passing game, Stevenson helped to drag the Patriots into field goal range on several occasions (a feat that ultimately proved vital).

Nick Folk calmly made the difference.

Amid all of the back-and-forth and up-and-down of the afternoon, one player was consistently excellent.

Nick Folk, New England’s 37-year-old kicker, hit all five of his field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder.

Though the Patriots’ offense produced its lone touchdown of the day by going for it on fourth down, Folk was there to quietly boot field goals every time he was called upon.

In the end, despite all of the pregame talk about the 5-2 Jets and the plethora of exciting young players New York possesses, it was a veteran kicker contributing 16 points that tipped the scales towards New England. It was, after all, the Patriots’ 13th consecutive win against the Jets.

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