Not bad. Not bad at all.
“This was less springboard than stay of execution. The Patriots aren’t a bad football team. But they aren’t a good one, either. Nothing that happened Monday night changes that.” — Gary Davenport (Bleacher Report)
I really enjoyed that win Monday night, even against the winless Jets. It especially felt good watching the players celebrate and jump all over Nick Folk after his last-second, game-saving field goal. And it especially makes me want more winning.
But as my daughter might say, the Patriots have issues. Rating a top 10, 2021 NFL Draft pick doesn’t come without scars. A long list of injuries, more players hitting IR than rotating off it; a defense that lost its edge and sprung a few leaks; a young offense still trying to get in synch... All of these issues and more continue to serve up huge disruptions to this year’s team and has left them third in the division. So what to expect next?
New England will never tank. Every fiber of Bill Belichick’s being is about team building and mental toughness. The other route is for the team to try and win out — optimistically finishing with a respectable-on-paper 10-6. Beating the remaining teams on their schedule makes that future plan murky. The Ravens, Texans, Cardinals, Chargers and Rams top the Pats’ lineup before they finish the season against the AFC East. A tough row to hoe, but I’m hoping to see them improve and compete each week. Ravens are favored by 7 points but I always ride with the home-town team. Patriots shock the Ravens on Sunday night. Plenty of room on this ledge, who’s with me?
Around the AFC East:
New York Jets (0-8) - Bye Week
Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) - Bye Week
19th - Nick Goss (NBC Sports Boston): The Patriots nearly suffered a horrendous loss to the winless Jets on Monday night, but they escaped with a 30-27 victory on a 51-yard field goal as time expired.
The bright spot for the Patriots was the play of quarterback Cam Newton, who made up for last week’s costly fumble by leading a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. [LW: 25]
19th - Peter Botte (NY Post). [LW: 22]
20th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports!): Jakobi Meyers’ breakout is the kind of thing the Patriots need. He caught 12 passes for 169 yards in Monday night’s comeback win. He was the Patriots’ best player. [LW: 21]
21st - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): The Patriots avoided a season-crushing setback by the narrowest of margins on Monday night, wiping away a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit before beating the Jets on a 51-yard field goal by Nick Folk as time expired. It was a win that showed character while also reminding the football world this is who the Patriots are now: a middling team that can be beat by anyone ... even the Jets. The biggest positive was Cam Newton, who scored twice on the ground and powered New England’s fourth-quarter comeback with a series of big throws. It was the quarterback’s most encouraging performance in weeks, and a sign of life the Pats desperately needed. [LW: 22]
21st - Staff (AP Pro32). [LW: 18]
21st - Consensus (Bleacher Report): The Patriots felt good about their Week 9 win over the Jets for about three seconds—the amount of time it took Nick Folk’s 51-yard game-winner to sail through the uprights. Other than that? Not so much.
This isn’t to say there weren’t positives. After struggling mightily with turnovers during their four-game skid, the Patriots didn’t turn it over and ground out 159 yards on the ground. Cam Newton played a mistake-free game and tallied 290 total yards and two scores, both of which came on the ground. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers piled up 12 catches for 169 yards.
But had Joe Flacco not gifted a fourth-quarter interception to the Patriots, New England would likely have lost to a winless Jets team that entered Week 9 averaging 11.8 points per game. New York scored 27 against the Patriots.
“This was less springboard than stay of execution,” Davenport said. “The Patriots aren’t a bad football team. But they aren’t a good one, either. Nothing that happened Monday night changes that.” [LW: 23]
21st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Recalibrated expectation: Finishing .500. The margin for error is already thin, and with home games remaining against the Ravens, Cardinals and Bills along with road games against the Chargers, Rams and Dolphins, it won’t be easy. The Patriots have dug themselves an early hole they haven’t been in since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first year as the team’s coach. [LW: 20]
22nd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots played Monday night with their season on the line against, of all teams, the winless Jets, barely surviving. The Bills and the Dolphins are both positioned to pull away from them. [LW: 25]
22nd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The Patriots narrowly avoided losing to the Jets on Monday night, erasing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and prevailing on Nick Folk’s field goal as time expired. Their season isn’t fixed. Far from it. But at least they didn’t suffer the ultimate indignity of losing to the Jets. [LW: 27]
23rd - MMQB Staff (SI): The Patriots just barely escaped MetLife Stadium with a win against the Jets. Now that they’ve avoided what would have been the embarrassing low point of the season, let’s see if they can hang around and get back in this thing. One thing’s for sure: We’re all giving this particularly group a little more benefit of the doubt because they’re wearing Patriots jerseys. [LW: 19]
23rd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Barely beating the worst team in the league with a broken-down backup quarterback is hardly something to build on. [LW: 23]
23rd - Danny Kelly (The Ringer): The Muddled Middle. [LW: 24]
23rd - Mark Schofield (TouchdownWire): It was not pretty, not by any stretch of the imagination. The 0-8 New York Jets led for the entire game, and the New England Patriots did not lead until the end. But it was a win.
America loves redemption stories, and you saw one this week from Cam Newton. Last week he had the football – and a potential win over the Buffalo Bills – in his hands. But he fumbled it away in the closing seconds.
This week he had a chance, and he delivered. Newton found Jakobi Meyers on an in-cut on the final offensive play to give kicker Nick Folk a chance, and Folk’s 51-yard field goal gave the Patriots the win at the final whistle.
Could it be something to build on? Newton has looked better the past two weeks, and now the questions might be on the defensive side of the football. The Patriots secondary – considered their strength – struggled on Monday night, allowing Joe Flacco to throw for three touchdown passes. But J.C. Jackson made the big play, intercepting Flacco late in the fourth quarter to set the stage for New England’s win.
Unfortunately for New England, things might be a bit tougher next week, with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on the horizon. [LW: 23]
26th - Nate Davis (USA Today): So much for the conspiracy theory that had Bill Belichick dropping two games to Jets this season in a bid to steal Trevor Lawrence atop the draft. [LW: 25]
AVG. RANK: 21.4 [last week: 22.7]