Patriots

Marcus Jones named AFC special teams player of the week after game-winning touchdown

Jones's 84-yard punt return touchdown lifted New England to a 10-3 victory over the Jets on Sunday.

Marcus Jones runs back a punt for the winning touchdown against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022 in Foxborough, Mass. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

Marcus Jones stole the show in the Patriots’ 10-3 victory over the Jets on Sunday. The rookie cornerback returned a punt for an 84-yard touchdown, breaking a 3-3 tie with just five seconds remaining and lifting New England to an important divisional win.

For his efforts in the victory, Jones has been named by the NFL as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. He becomes the second Patriots special-teamer to receive the honor this season, as kicker Nick Folk won the award after kicking five field goals in a Week 8 victory over the Jets.

Jones, 24, was selected by New England in the third round of the 2022 draft. He had an impressive college career at Troy and Houston, where he was named the 2021 American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year for his work as both a kick and punt returner.

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His punt return touchdown on Sunday marked the first such score across the league this season. It was the second-latest game-winning punt return touchdown in regulation since 1980, trailing only DeSean Jackson’s score as time expired in 2010.

Jones took over kick return duties for New England in Week 3, and began returning punts for the team the following week. He has thrived in that role, as his average of 16.6 yards per punt return is good for second in the league among players who regularly return punts.

While Jones became the second Patriot to win the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award during the 2022-23 campaign, he is the third to be named as a player of the week. Linebacker Matthew Judon was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording two sacks and a forced fumble in New England’s 29-0 victory over the Lions in Week 5.

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