It’s absolutely mindblowing to me that we’re already encroaching upon the Top 5 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2019. I guess when you’re living in the Upside Down and time has no meaning, it’s easy to lose track of things. But since we’re almost into the Top 5 and the preseason is (in theory) almost upon us, I’d like to take a minute to remind everyone that I put a lot of weight into what I select as Moment #6. Being in the Top 5 is pretty huge, so whatever just misses that benchmark is basically the best of the rest. And I’m looking forward to this moment, as I think I messed up these rankings a bit in the past and am grateful for the opportunity to shine some light where it belongs.
First, the list so far:
20. The Patriots draft N’Keal Harry.
19. The Patriots trade for Mohammed Sanu.
18. Josh Gordon breaks three tackles to score the first Patriots touchdown of the 2019 season.
17. The kicker carousel.
16. A Kyle van Noy scoop and score ices the game against the New York Giants.
15. The refs screw the Pats out of not one, but two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs.
14. The Patriots play the Jets twice - and the defense shuts them out twice.
13. The Patriots force four interceptions as they dominate the Cincinnati Bengals and secure a playoff spot.
12. Julian Edelman hits Philip Dorsett in the end zone to help lift the Patriots over the Eagles.
11. N’Keal Harry scores his first NFL touchdown with a back shoulder grab against the Dallas Cowboys.
10. The Patriots force three turnovers on three straight plays against the Cleveland Browns.
9. Tom Brady becomes the 2nd All-Time passing yards leader in a Week 6 win over the New York Giants.
8. The Patriots sign Antonio Brown
7. Rex Burkhead finds some nice redemption with the go-ahead touchdown against the Buffalo Bills to clinch the AFC East
Time to right a wrong.
6. Lawrence Guy manages to intercept a handoff in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
I already broke down this game in more detail in my writeup of the Number 10 moment, so I won’t go too deep into the weeds here. We all know what happened: offseason darlings the Cleveland Browns, in what was supposed to be an AFC Championship preview, came into Foxboro and got absolutely smoked to the tune of 27-13 in a game that wasn’t even that close. The highlight of the contest was a four minute stretch towards the end of the first quarter where the Patriots forced three turnovers on three straight plays - a fumble returned for a touchdown, a touchdown-saving strip, and then perhaps one of the most bizarre plays of the entire 2019 season on the first play of Cleveland’s next possession.
Baker Mayfield was lined up in shotgun with Jarvis Landry close to the weak side of the line; in fact, all of the Browns receivers were bunched. Cleveland needed a high percentage play to restore some order to the game after their back-to-back turnovers, and so all signs pointed to a run or a QB keeper. The Patriots, once again in their Big Nickel, had everyone close to the line, with Lawrence Guy lined up in the 3 technique against guard Joel Bitonio. Just to the outside, across from Landry and showing Blitz, was Kyle Van Noy.
At the snap, Browns tackle Justin McCray pulled behind the line to make way for Landry, who darted into the middle to accept a dumpoff pass from Mayfield that was basically a handoff. It’s a play that Tommy B and Brandin Cooks used with a fair amount of success several years back. With fast, elusive receivers like Landry, it’s a great way to get to the outside and pick up some positive yardage.
Unfortunately for Landry, Lawrence Guy completely blew up Bitonio (a former Pro Bowler, for the record) and found himself right in Landry’s path as he made his cross. Baker Mayfield didn’t even see Guy coming - how could he? These things weren’t supposed to happen. So when he let the ball drop into where Landry was supposed to be, instead it went right into Lawrence Guy’s waiting arms and he rumbled all the way down to the 11 yard line before getting brought down. Two plays later, Brady hit Edelman in the end zone for a 17 point first quarter, and that was all she wrote.
I know that, technically, this play counts as Guy intercepting a forward pass, and will go on the stat sheets the same as any other pick out there. But let’s be real here - the guy got into the backfield so damn quick he was there before the ball traveled the seven inches between Mayfield and Landry. Lawrence Guy intercepted a handoff, plain and simple. What an awesome play that was, and I’m glad I could give that sequence a little redemption as I put it here at Number 6.
Check out the play here.
Full Browns/Pats highlights here.