By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — Some folks might argue that it’s perhaps redundant and a bit unnecessary to state that a football player is tough. Being tough is a prerequisite for the job.
Nevertheless, we’re going to ahead and come right out and say it. Josh Gordon is a tough individual.
That’s true on multiple levels. If you’ve ever read Gordon’s backstory — and you should — then you know that the 28-year-old has encountered, endured, succumbed and overcome more than most people ever experience in a lifetime. Condensing that story down to just his football career, the same theme applies.
You may think that the off-field battles don’t necessarily relate to the on-field toughness required to get through an NFL football game. But, well, Gordon does.
After a 60-minute effort that included two separate returns from two separate injuries, Gordon was asked about the mental and physical toughness that was on display.
“I think that it translates from off the field, as well as on the field. I think my life, the battle of perseverance is something that can show through, through my play and my mind-set and how I attack the game. I think I’ve always been that way, just always having the mindset to not leave anything undone, not give it my best if I could do so,” Gordon said. “Physically, I think I’ve always just kind of been a fighter in some type of way — was going to have to fight back, was going to be the underdog — and that’s my mind-set when I step out there on the field and play each week.”
In this one, with the Patriots emerging from Hurricane Antonio, the Patriots needed everything Gordon could offer. He caught six passes for 83 yards, three of which led to first downs. He also drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty. No play was better or bigger than his acrobatic 28-yard catch to convert a third-and-22 in the third quarter, awakening the Patriots from what had been a near-25-minute slumber.
Making a catch like that is, in and of itself, a feat. Making that catch with two fingers taped together after suffering some type of finger injury on the previous series made it all the more impressive.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 22, 2019
“It was a huge play,” Tom Brady said. “Josh made a huge play. Made a bunch all day. He went wire-to-wire; he’s going to be pretty tired tomorrow. Proud of him and what he accomplished today. That was a huge play in the game.”
Gordon explained that catch quite simply: “I think the mind-set going into every game as a wide receiver is to attack the ball ferociously.”
As for the pain — Gordon also required a trip to the medical tent late in the second quarter after landing hard up the left sideline while attacking another football ferociously — Gordon said it’s part of the job.
“You know, some weeks are more painful than others,” he said. “Obviously, it’s not always that bad, but it’s part of the game. I don’t think anybody likes to get banged up or have to come out of the game, but it’s just the reality of it. I think the more important part is just, how many times can you get knocked down and come back? That’s my mind-set, that’s my attitude, no matter [what]. If it doesn’t take me out all the way where I can’t physically do it, I’m going to be back out there within a couple plays. If medically I’m approved to do so, I’m going to go back out no matter what it is that’s hurt me.”
In a week where one receiver was cut on Friday and another receiver — Julian Edelman — left due to injury in the second quarter, that kind of showing was needed from Gordon. If he can maintain that type of contribution through January, it’ll end up being one of the more remarkable stories — both in the fantasy land known as sports and in real life.
For now, we’ve got leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 30-14 win over the poor, poor New York Jets.
–It wouldn’t be Leftover Thoughts if we didn’t start where it must start. That is obviously with the Jets’ insistence on throwing Zero Humans at every play imaginable.
Credit to Adam Gase’s team, too, because they didn’t restrict themselves to just employing a Zero Humans Defense.
They showed off a Zero Humans Offensive Line, leading to maybe the easiest sack of Jamie Collins’ career:
They showed off a Zero Humans Receiver Set, when Luke Falk threw a ball to … THIS general area:
And they got traditional when they used the Zero Humans Defense to let Ryan Izzo chew up half the field in a matter of seconds:
The New York Jets are a national treasure.
–On the flip side, the Patriots appeared to employ the Fifty-Three Humans Defense every single time Gase and Dowell Loggains dialed up another Le’Veon Bell rush up the gut.
It was tough to watch.
The screen game wasn’t much better:
That’s the rare screen where the offense tries to convert a third-and-2 without blocking anybody. They don’t call Adam Gase the hardest working man in football for no reason, folks.
–In a related story, the Jets went 0-for-12 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down. After the game, Bill Belichick said, “I think we’ve played good team defense at times. There’s still things we need to work on and be a little more consistent at, things we can definitely coach better.”
I kind of wanted to say, “Um. Like what?” But I didn’t want to get the death stare.
–On the other side of that, Adam Gase assessed his offense pretty succinctly.
“Offensively, we were atrocious,” Gase said. “As bad as you can get.”
–After Josh Gordon couldn’t quite hang on to a would-be touchdown pass while getting gently bothered by Darryl Roberts, the former Patriot and current Jets cornerback was feeling himself. Roberts paraded around the field, thumping his chest to let the world know that he and he alone was responsible for the incompletion.
It took Brady precisely one snap to go back to Roberts’ side of the field. It resulted in this:
The lesson? As always, never do anything ever. It’ll only come back to bite you.
–You may have heard that Robby Anderson had some things to say about Stephon Gilmore during the week. Anderson said that Gilmore gets away with “a lot” of holding.
It was kind of fitting, then, that Anderson got held to three catches for 11 yards, and that the Jets’ final offensive play ended like this:
As you surely know, Gilmore is the opposite of a trash talker. Nevertheless, I endeavored to ask him … was it a little extra sweet to get to put the cherry on top of a strong defensive day with a hit like that?
“Yeah for sure,” he said. “I mean … I play every snap as hard as I can, and you know, it’s always good to make the final play.”
OK. Nothing there. So let’s try to squeeze a little more out: He had a few things to say about you this week … did that lead to any extra oomph on that hit?
“Still gotta play the game, you know,” Gilmore said. “I see [what he said], but you still gotta play the game.”
That is … not trash talk. Oh well. It was worth a shot.
Anderson, meanwhile, was completely befuddled in the losing locker room.
“I think the world knows what I am capable of and I know what I am capable of,” Anderson insisted. “It is frustrating because if I had 11 yards and we won, I wouldn’t be upset. If I had 100 yards and we lose, I am going to be upset. My intent here isn’t to lose. I am here to win. I work day in and day out to the best of my ability to contribute for us to win. I know my passion, I know what I am capable of and I know what I am here to do. So it is frustrating.”
Seemed frustrating. For certain.
Must have been all of that “holding.”
–Speaking of Gilmore … I know this wasn’t an interception, but the sheer athleticism required to make this play on this ball …
Woof. Should have been challenged, I’m pretty sure he had that one.
–And speaking of challenges … Phillip Dorsett’s clear and obvious catch was … incomplete?
If this game mattered a little more, we’d all be scratching our heads over that one. Nevertheless, R.I.P. to the streak of Phillip Dorsett catching every single pass thrown his way. It died at 26 consecutive receptions, but only because of officiating incompetence and the almighty Al Riveron making a bizarre ruling from the replay center. But its memory will live on forever.
–There was a unicorn sighting on the middle of the field on Sunday. That unicorn’s name was A Good, Hard, Clean, Heavy Hit Over The Middle To Break Up A Pass. Not the catchiest name.
Anyway, it was delivered by Duron Harmon, who smashed into Jamison Crowder and jarring the ball loose to prevent what wold have been a 13-yard reception.
I asked Harmon about the lost art of delivering a big hit in that spot without drawing a penalty.
“Just going in there, just trying to make my presence felt,” Harmon said. “You gotta know where to hit, because, you know, the targeting rule. I just wanted to make sure I’m doing everything the right way, don’t want any fines. Can’t take no money away from my babies and my wife. Just want to play football the right way — playing clean, hard football.”
I believe Harmon is safe to invest in a Power Wheel for the babies after that one.
–A Ty Law sideline interview robbed the world of getting a replay of this play. Let’s remedy that unfortunate reality:
That’s a play right there. Looks like a deleted scene from The Matrix.
–As we’ve seen in the past two weeks, the AFC East? It’s not great. The Dolphins are historically bad, as they’ve been outscored by 117 points over three weeks. (How that is possible, I know not.) After taking a 16-0 lead over the Bills in Week 1, the Jets have since been outscored 70-17 — and 14 of those points came gift-wrapped by the Patriots on Sunday.
Make no mistake: The bottom of the AFC East is as bad as bad can be. (And there’s a lot of bad out there in the NFL today.
But check this out: On the flip side, there are just two (2) divisions in all of football with TWO (2) teams that are 3-0. Those divisions would be the NFC West (San Francisco, L.A. Rams) and … no … wait … this can’t be right … the … AFC East?
That can’t be right! I’ve heard that only the AFC East is bad. Weird. Yet the AFC North is a collective 3-9, the NFC South is 4-7, the AFC West is 5-7, and the NFC East is 5-6. Again, I’ve been told many times that only the AFC East is bad, and that the AFC East is also uniquely bad, so I’m perplexed by this whole thing.
We’ll see just how legitimate those 3-0 Buffalo Bills are come Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park. It might be a wild one. And let’s hope it is. From a sheer entertainment standpoint, after witnessing the dreariness of the Jets and Dolphins on consecutive weeks, we all deserve it.