The New England Patriots needed every last play to earn a victory on Monday Night Football, but they did just that: the Patriots beat the New York Jets 30-27 on a last-second field goal to improve to 3-5 on the year. While they still have an uphill climb in front of them heading into the second half of their season, their four-game losing streak has now finally been snapped.
With that said, let’s take a look at how New England opted to use the talent on its roster versus New York — and who played the biggest roles in the team’s first win since Week 3.
Total snaps: 81
G Shaq Mason (81; 100%), G Joe Thuney (81; 100%), OT Michael Onwenu (81; 100%), C David Andrews (81; 100%), QB Cam Newton (81; 100%), WR Damiere Byrd (80; 99%), WR Jakobi Meyers (80; 99%), TE Ryan Izzo (76; 94%), OT Isaiah Wynn (73; 90%), FB Jakob Johnson (45; 56%), WR Gunner Olszewski (35; 43%), RB Rex Burkhead (34; 42%), RB Damien Harris (28; 35%), RB James White (21; 26%), OT Korey Cunningham (12; 15%), WR Kristian Wilkerson (2; 2%)
The Patriots’ offense was on the field for a season-high 81 snaps on Monday, and five players went wire-to-wire: Cam Newton played every snap, as did four of his five starting offensive linemen. The only exception is left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who missed eight snaps in the second quarter because of what was later announced to be an ankle injury. Wynn did eventually return again to fill the spot that was held by Korey Cunningham during his brief absence.
At wide receiver, meanwhile, the Patriots used Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers as the clear top-two at the position. The only other two pure wide receivers active, Gunner Olszewski and practice squad elevatee Kristian Wilkerson, were used in a package-specific manner alongside the duo. While it remains to be seen how this usage changes once N’Keal Harry and possibly Julian Edelman return, it is hard not to see Byrd and Meyers retain prominent roles in the rotation.
Also playing a big role was fullback Jakob Johnson, who led the Patriots’ backfield with 45 snaps — a new career-high for the former international rookie free agent. While Johnson served his usual role as the lead blocker, the players behind him were once again used on a rotational basis: Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris, who later left the game because of a chest injury, shared the early-down snaps, with James White working as the primary receiving back.
Total snaps: 46
S Devin McCourty (46; 100%), CB Jason McCourty (46; 100%), CB J.C. Jackson (46; 100%), S Adrian Phillips (41; 89%), CB Jonathan Jones (37; 80%), DT Byron Cowart (36; 78%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (36; 78%), LB John Simon (35; 76%), LB Chase Winovich (31; 67%), LB Terez Hall (30; 65%), DT Nick Thurman (23; 50%), DT Carl Davis (12; 26%), LB Tashawn Bower (11; 24%), LB Shilique Calhoun (11; 24%), CB Myles Bryant (11; 24%), CB Joejuan Williams (10; 22%), LB Derek Rivers (10; 22%), DT Adam Butler (10; 22%), S Terrence Brooks (9; 20%), LB Anfernee Jennings (7; 15%), S Kyle Dugger (4; 9%), LB Josh Uche (4; 9%)
Missing starters at all three levels, the Patriots defense used plenty of players to help make up for its personnel shortcomings. Just take a look at defensive tackle, for example. With Lawrence Guy inactive due to shoulder, elbow and knee injuries, Byron Cowart and Deatrich Wise Jr. served as the first men up in the rotation: they each played 78 percent of snaps, and were joined by Nick Thurman and Carl Davis as the top-four. Adam Butler, meanwhile, was given a comparatively small role behind them.
At outside linebacker, meanwhile, Chase Winovich was back to playing the majority of snaps after three straight games of limited opportunities. Winovich, who also was tied for the team lead in special teams snaps, served as the primary outside linebacker alongside John Simon. Behind the duo, the Patriots used a rotational approach based on situation — one that featured an even share among the other edge options.
Going back to the off-the-ball linebacker position, Terez Hall’s usage stand out. After being elevated from the practice squad, the second-year man was on the field for 30 snaps while helping fill the role normally played by the injured Ja’Whaun Bentley. While Hall saw plenty of action in his NFL debut, fellow off-the-ball candidates Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche played marginal roles: the two rookies were on the field for just seven and four snaps, respectively.
Total snaps: 27
LB Chase Winovich (20; 74%), WR Matthew Slater (20; 74%), CB Justin Bethel (20; 74%), S Cody Davis (15; 56%), LB Tashawn Bower (14; 52%), P Jake Bailey (14; 52%), CB Jonathan Jones (13; 48%), LB Shilique Calhoun (13; 48%), CB Joejuan Williams (13; 48%), S Terrence Brooks (13; 48%), WR Gunner Olszewski (12; 44%), RB Rex Burkhead (9; 33%), LB Anfernee Jennings (9; 33%), LS Joe Cardona (8; 30%), G Shaq Mason (7; 26%), G Joe Thuney (7; 26%), OT Michael Onwenu (7; 26%), OT Korey Cunningham (7; 26%), S Adrian Phillips (7; 26%), C James Ferentz (7; 26%), K Nick Folk (7; 26%), G Hjalte Froholdt (7; 26%), FB Jakob Johnson (6; 22%), RB James White (6; 22%), DT Byron Cowart (6; 22%), CB Myles Bryant (6; 22%), S Devin McCourty (5; 19%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (5; 19%), DT Nick Thurman (5; 19%), LB Derek Rivers (5; 19%), S Kyle Dugger (3; 11%), LB Terez Hall (1; 4%)
As noted above, Chase Winovich played a big role not just on defense but in the kicking game as well. In fact, he was tied for the team-lead in snaps with core coverage players Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel. As opposed to Winovich, however, the two were used exclusively in the game’s third phase — two of eight men to see the field only on special teams alongside specialists Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona and Nick Folk, as well as Cody Davis, James Ferentz and Hjalte Froholdt.
One name worth mentioning from the list above is Kyle Dugger. The Patriots’ highest draft pick this year was back on the field after missing the previous two games because of an ankle injury. He would have played more than his combined seven snaps on defense and special teams under normal circumstances, but it is obvious that the team is easing the second-round rookie back into the lineup.
Did not play
QB Jarrett Stidham, LB Cassh Maluia
Jarrett Stidham spending the entirety of the game on the sidelines is no surprise given that the contest came down to the very last play. The same cannot be said for Cassh Maluia’s virtual inactivity: he bad previously served as a three-unit member of the Patriots’ kicking game units but was apparently not part of the plan on Monday. His standing on the team will be worth watching moving forward.
QB Brian Hoyer, WR N’Keal Harry, CB Stephon Gilmore, RB J.J. Taylor, TE Dalton Keene, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, DT Lawrence Guy
Before the Patriots released their inactives list on Monday, six of its members were already known: N’Keal Harry (concussion) and J.J. Taylor (illness) were ruled out as part of the final injury report on Saturday, with Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin), Stephon Gilmore (knee) and Lawrence Guy (shoulder/elbow/knee) joining them on Sunday. Monday, meanwhile, saw the addition of Dalton Keene (knee) to the list before third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer became the seventh and final inactive.