Not the prettiest victory the New England Patriots have ever had, but it’s a victory nonetheless over the New York Jets in walk-off fashion, 30-27 after a Nick Folk game winning field goal. I’ve questioned this teams ‘fight’ in the past, they showed plenty of it in this one after digging a 20-10 halftime hole. And by the way, I agree, it’s only the Jets, all is not fixed with this Patriots team. But the alternative would be much worse. I’ll take being 3-5 and running with it.
I’ve been tough on Cam Newton the past 3 weeks because he’s been underperforming and making mistakes a veteran of his tenure shouldn’t be making. And there were a few of those mistakes Monday night. However, he looked more comfortable in the pocket, got away from pressure, kept plays alive, and had good overall game awareness. I liked pocketing the timeout late and going to the first down spike with :08 on the clock. Much better this week.
RUNNING BACKS: A
Damien Harris continues to impress with his ability to fight through contact, and give great extra effort at the end of runs. Once Sony Michel comes back, these 2 will make a dynamic power running duo. Good to see James White utilized in the screen game. Rex Burkhead is healthy and it shows in his running. Burky is finishing runs and that’s when you know he’s right, and I encourage more targets for him in the passing game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B
Young wide receivers will make simple mistakes and Jakobi Meyers made some on Monday night. His hold brought back a run from Harris, and he can’t have procedure penalties. That’s high school type stuff. But I can’t argue his production, and how steady he was as the game went on. Damiere Byrd had one of the biggest plays of the game setting up the game tying touchdown with his sideline to sideline catch and run. A nice job by both these lads.
TIGHT ENDS: B
Ryan Izzo played with a reported hamstring issue. No targets, no whiffs that I noticed in the running game. Not much more to say.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A-
While some pressure was allowed, especially when Isaiah Wynn was out of the game with a ding, overall this unit held up well against the Jets blitzing pressures. The OL helped itself by being able to run with ball with both Burkhead and Harris in the game. And a job well done on the QB sneaks. Everyone knows the play is coming, and to still execute, is great effort and push. This unit allowed the time of possession needed to win the game in the 2nd half.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B+
This beat up unit did a nice job of getting enough pressure on Flacco to bother him into some bad throws, and held up well against the Jets running game. The lack of a natural pass rusher is glaring among the guys up front. Wise, Simon, and Winovich all played between 30-35% of the snaps with Wise being lined up the most inside. I know in the offseason people will obsess about finding a quarterback, and impact interior defensive lineman is a very close 2nd on the list.
With Ju’Whaun Bentley out, the linebacker who got the most snaps with Terez Hall. I said the same thing when I watched the game. Who? Hall did an ok job in there for his first extended action. Behind defensive tackle, a sideline to sideline middle linebacker is on the list of needs this offseason.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B-
J.C. Jackson had an interesting night. He gave up a touchdown on a good throw and catch and then gave up a touchdown where he blew a tire, fell down, and Perriman was wide open. He also ball hawked the 4th quarter interception right when this team needed it. The touchdown allowed by Jason McCourty was set up by the pass interference by his brother Devin, that flipped the field and set up the touchdown at the end of the half. In the end they did the job against Joe Flacco who was efficient at spreading the ball around the lot.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Jake Bailey had one punt that was fantastic, and how can ya bang on Nick Folk and he made all his kicks including a game winner. I would like to remind Gunnar Olszewski to not be a hero kick returner, if it’s 5 yards deep in the end zone leave it alone. And the kick coverage unit could tighten up a tad, but otherwise a good performance out of this phase of the game.
3 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1) Are the Patriots prepared with their ‘Big’ players to handle the physicality of the Ravens offense?
2) For the Patriots power outside run game to flourish as long as the offensive line stays intact.
3) I have a hunch, that certain player will get healthy this week. Even at 3-5 the playing the Ravens still signifies a big game.