BOSTON (CBS) — The 2020 season was not a great one for the New England Patriots by any stretch, but at least it ended on a high note.
The Patriots will not be participating in the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2008, but the team closed the regular season with a 28-14 win over the New York Jets. New England finishes the year at 7-9, the franchise’s first losing season since 2000.
This season marks the first time the Patriots have gone 7-9 in a season in franchise history.
New England got the victory behind a pretty solid day by Cam Newton. After news broke early Sunday morning that the Patriots likely won’t be bringing Newton back in 2021, the quarterback went out and threw for three touchdowns in what could be his final game with the team.
Newton had just five passing touchdowns on the season entering Sunday’s tilt.
The quarterback also caught his first career touchdown reception, hauling in a 19-yard pass from Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter to tie the game at 14-14. Newton played the entire game and finished 21-of-30 for 242 yards. He hit James White, rookie tight end Devin Asiasi and running back Sony Michel for touchdowns on Sunday, and did not commit a turnover.
Asiasi’s score gave the Patriots a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, and was set up by an interception by J.C. Jackson — the corner’s ninth of the season.
The Patriots took a rare early lead after Newton led the team on a touchdown drive on New England’s first possession. Newton scrambled for 49 yards on one play, the longest run by a quarterback in Patriots history. That run also gave Newton the new Patriots team record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, surpassing Steve Grogan’s 539 rushing yards in 1978.
A few plays later, he hit White for his first passing touchdown since Dec. 6, giving the Patriots a 7-0 advantage. The Patriots led after the first quarter for just the third time all season.
But the Jets ripped off 14 unanswered points to close the first half and start the second half. Quarterback Sam Darnold hit Chris Herndon for a 21-yard touchdown strike just after the two-minute warning to tie the game at 7-7. New York scored on their first possession out of the half, with Darnold hitting Bernard Perriman for a 53-yard connection at midfield to set up a rushing touchdown by Josh Adam to put the Jets up 14-7 early in the third quarter.
Then New England went out and scored 21 unanswered points of its own, finishing a frustrating season with one of its best offensive halves of the campaign. Now, with no more football to play this season, Bill Belichick and company will set their sights on the future of the franchise.