BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots picked up the first win of the Mac Jones era, beating the New York Jets 25-6 in the Meadowlands on Sunday. The team looked much, much better in many areas that hurt them last week against the Miami Dolphins.
Some of that may have to do with playing the New York Jets, a team the Patriots have now beaten in 11 straight meetings. The Patriots scored 16 points off four turnovers, all of which were interceptions for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.
But opponent aside, the Patriots are 1-1 on the season.
“These guys came back and worked really hard all week, ” head coach Bill Belichick said after the victory. “We still have a long way to go but we did a lot of things better than we did last week. Just need to keep grinding, keep working and stringing these days and weeks together. A lot of guys stepped up, we got some turnover opportunities and took advantage of them.”
Here are the Ups and Downs from New England’s first win of the season:
Damien Harris Runs Angry
Whoa mama did Damien Harris want to find the end zone on Sunday. And he did so early in the third quarter by dragging a few Jets defenders with him. It was a “totally redeem himself” moment for the running back after his late fumble against the Dolphins in Week 1.
Harris put six on the board after the Patriots defense picked Wilson off for the fourth time of the day, bullying his way into the end zone on a 26-yard touchdown run. Harris broke eight tackles on his way to the end zone, and even took a few Jets defenders with him when he met some resistance at the 7-yard line.
The Jets tried to pull the ball out of his hands, but Harris held on and kept pushing his way into the end zone to give the Patriots a 19-3 lead.
DAMIEN HARRIS. BEASTMODE. #ForeverNE
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
Harris finished with 62 yards on his 16 carries on Sunday.
Not to be forgotten is James White, who ran for New England’s only other touchdown on Sunday. He rushed for 20 yards on his five carries, including his seven-yard score late in the first quarter.
And in typical James White fashion, he caught all six passes that went his way for 45 yards, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards on the afternoon.
Wilson Liked Throwing To Patriots
Wilson didn’t say anything about seeing ghosts while sitting in disbelief on the sideline, but his performance against the Patriots was pretty frightening for Jets fans.
The rookie threw his first two passes to the Patriots, with J.C. Jackson and Adrian Phillips coming down with interceptions to end New York’s first two possessions. Jackson added another pick late in the second quarter deep in New England territory as the Jets were looking to cut into a 10-3 Patriots lead. Wilson finished the first half 3-for-7, completing three passes to his own team and three passes to the New England defense.
Devin McCourty picked off another horrible throw by Wilson in the third quarter.
Tricky, Tricky Patriots
New England had two trick plays that picked up some solid yardage on Sunday.
The first came in the first quarter, when James White took a pitch from Jones, threw it back to the quarterback after a few yards, and Jones fired a rocket to Jonnu Smith for a 19-yard hookup.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 19, 2021
White was in the end zone a few plays later to put the Patriots on top 10-0.
The Pats used some more trickeration late in the third quarter. Mac became a speed bump as he blocked on a reverse by Kendrick Bourne, which went for a 16-yard gain for New England.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 19, 2021
Nice play by Bourne, and nice block by Mac. At least nice in the sense that he didn’t get stomped or run over or disembodied in any way.
Shutting Down Corey Davis
Davis had five receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. The Patriots completely shut him down in Week 2.
New York’s top receiver didn’t have a reception until late in the third quarter, and he finished with just two catches for eight yards on five targets.
Nick Folk has made 33 straight field goals for the Patriots, setting a new franchise record. He was a perfect four-for-four on Sunday, though he did miss an extra point.
Opening Drive Of Nothing
The Patriots went on a seven minute drive to open the game, but put zero points on the scoreboard when it was over. The nine-play drive went for just 35 yards, aided by a roughing the passer penalty by New York.
The drive came to an end when Jones was sacked by Marcus Maye, knocking the Patriots out of field goal range.
It’s a new-look offense for the Patriots with a rookie quarterback, a ton of new players looking to catch passes and an offensive line dealing with injuries. Getting off to a fast start would make life a lot easier, but for the second straight week, the Patriots came up empty on their opening drive.
Offensive Line Struggles
Yasir Durant was schooled at the line twice on one drive, leading to two Jets sacks on Jones and a fumble by the QB (luckily for Durant, he fell on that fumble). The Patriots went three-and-out on that drive.
Durant was replaced by Justin Herron late in the second quarter, and then Herron went down with an injury. The offensive line continued to struggle no matter who was on the field, as Jones was sacked three times — all on third down — and under pressure throughout most of the game.
Mac’s Intentional Grounding
Jones was 22-of-30 for 186 yards but looked a lot more like a rookie quarterback than he did last weekend. That was highlighted (or lowlighted) by another odd “pass” that cost the Patriots some yardage.
Last week, it was the fumble on his first pass attempt of his career, which the QB threw backwards to no one in particular. Sunday against the Jets, Jones was slapped with an intentional grounding penalty when he scrambled from pressure and, with Quincy Williams about to level him, threw a pass outside of the pocket that did not reach the line of scrimmage. He just wanted nothing to do with a potential Williams hit, and it’s hard to blame him for that.
But the play came on a third-and-2 at the New York 21, and it cost the Patriots 10 yards. The Pats ended up settling for another Folk field goal to take a 13-3 lead into the locker room.
We know Mac is fully immersed in the Patriots playbook, but maybe he should check out the NFL rule book as well.
The Patriots were hit for six flags that cost the team 54 yards, which was actually a slight improvement from Week 1’s eight infractions. Still, all of that laundry on the field won’t sit well with Bill Belichick.