The New England Patriots’ 2020 season was a disappointment, but it did end on a positive note. The Patriots beat the visiting New York Jets with a final score of 28-14 to improve their record to 7-9 on the season.
Patriots (7-9) 28 : 14 Jets (2-14)
New England started its final game of the season on offense and with a focus on the running game. With Sony Michel doing much of the heavy lifting and Cam Newton also contributing a 49-yard run, the team quickly reached the opposing red zone. There, it took to the air to cap the series in style: Newton connected with James White from seven yards out to give the Patriots an early lead.
Nick Folk’s extra point was good as well and New England was up 7-0 after an impressive seven-play, 84-yard drive. [Patriots 7 : 0 Jets]
The Jets also moved the football well on their first possession of the day, but eventually stalled near midfield: three incomplete passes in a row — the last tipped by Chase Winovich — forced a punt. New England did not do much with its next possession, however, and had to punt as well after gaining just one first down on a 13-yard pass to Devin Asiasi.
The Patriots’ defense, on the other hand, continued to stifle the Jets. With Winovich adding a 9-yard loss, the unit forced another Jets punt near midfield just before the end of the first quarter.
New England started the second quarter with a strong 18-yard punt return by Gunner Olszewski that was later followed by a 13-yard pass from Cam Newton to Jakobi Meyers. That early momentum was not sustained, however, as an incomplete pass on third down forced the Patriots to bring Jake Bailey and the punt team on for a second time.
The defense, meanwhile, continued its strong play. After giving up just one first down on the ensuing drive, an 8-yard sack by Winovich forced the Jets to punt for a third time in three possessions. New England fared slightly better on its next drive, marching all the way into New York territory, but again had to send the punt team onto the field after Newton was sacked on the series’ final third down.
The next drive saw the Jets offense finally come to life, at the expense of undrafted rookie cornerback Myles Bryant. First, he missed an open-field tackle that would have stopped a 15-yard pass play near the line of scrimmage. One play later, he failed to attack a would-be interception and thus allowed Jamison Crowder to snag the ball for a gain of 12. Finally, he was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the game’s final play: a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold to Chris Herndon to tie the game. [Patriots 7 : 7 Jets]
New England had enough time on the clock to execute a potential scoring drive before intermission, but the offense could not pull it off despite some encouraging plays early on. Eventually, the Patriots punted the football away again with the Jets then running out the clock on the first half.
The Jets started the third quarter on offense, and wasted no time to take their first lead of the day. With a 53-yard pass from Sam Darnold to Breshad Perriman as the drive’s biggest play, New York reached the New England red zone and, four plays later, touchdown: Josh Adams broke the plane from one yard out to put his team in front. [Patriots 7 : 14 Jets]
New England’s answered the Jets’ touchdown drive with a punt: the team did gain a first down on a short pass to Sony Michel, but eventually failed to keep the series alive after back-to-back bad plays: first, Damiere Byrd was lost to injury on an end-around run; on the next play, Cam Newton threw behind Devin Asiasi to force the Patriots to punt the ball away.
The defense, however, was able to get the ball back quickly by forcing the first three-and-out of the day. This time, the Patriots offense was able to take advantage.
Marching 58 yards in 10 plays — including three third down conversions — the Patriots found the end zone thanks to some trickery: former college quarterback Jakobi Meyers connected with Cam Newton on a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Nick Folk’s extra point was good as well, tying the game at 14. [Patriots 14 : 14 Jets]
Momentum continued to stay with the home team on the Jets’ next drive, with cornerback J.C. Jackson registering his ninth interception of the season:
Jackson’s pick set up New England’s second straight touchdown drive. After running the ball on the next three plays after the interception, Cam Newton found rookie tight end Devin Asiasi from 26 yards out for his first career touchdown:
Nick Folk’s third extra point of the day was good again, and New England back in the lead. [Patriots 21 : 14 Jets]
The Patriots continued to stay in control of the game after taking the lead. The defense forced a quick three-and-out, while the offense was able to find the end zone yet again. This time, Cam Newton connected with Sony Michel for the first receiving touchdown of his career:
Sony‘s first receiving touchdown! pic.twitter.com/djmALuUMAP— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) January 3, 2021
Nick Folk was perfect on the extra point yet again to put New England up by 14 points. [Patriots 28 : 14 Jets]
After two very good drives for the Patriots defense, the Jets were able to build some rhythm again on their next drive. Converting a 4th-and-1 and a 3rd-and-1 along the way, they reached the New England red zone with a chance to cut into their opponent’s lead. However, the series ended abruptly when Sam Darnold threw his second interception of the day — this time to cornerback Jonathan Jones:
The Patriots were able to successfully run down the clock on their next drive, before punting the ball away one final time. One offensive play later, the game and season were over.