It’s March. I feel like it was just March. Or that it has been March for 365 straight days now.
I also think there are things about to happen on the NFL Calendar in terms of franchise tag designations and looming Free Agency. But who knows at this point. I’m just trying to get through to Spring. What better way to kill some time than continue on with our countdown?
The list so far:
Our Number 19 moment is a sort of perfect parallel to games the Patriots have played in in years past - but in true 2020 fashion, it all kind of came out backwards.
19. A last second 51 yard Nick Folk field goal caps off a comeback win against the New York Jets.
Usually, when the Patriots play their first game of the season against the Jets, the storyline is somewhere along the lines of “New England is rolling, and the Jets stink, but you never know with divisional matchups so let’s get it done.” However, when the Patriots faced off against New York in Week 9 of the 2020 season, they were riding their first four game losing streak of the 21st century and the Jets had yet to even sniff a victory. A 2-5 team against an 0-8 team isn’t exactly the Monday Night Football matchup of the year.
However, the Patriots had rallied the previous week against the Buffalo Bills, almost pulling out the W, and the Jets had a secret weapon. An entity that should always make every Patriots fan nervous, no matter the circumstance.
I don’t know what it is about Joe Flacco, but he’s just one of those guys who has given the Patriots fits for virtually his entire career. Some of the best Patriots games of the past 15 years have been against the Flacco-led Ravens, and even though he was finishing his career on the worst team in the league, anybody who has watched Joe Cool play knows that none of that matters.
So it was only a mild surprise that Flacco was able to take a Jets 20-10 lead into the locker room at halftime against a New England team that was only able to engineer one decent drive over the first two quarters. The Jets took their opening possession down the field for three, then scored on three of their last four first half possessions for a 17 point second quarter.
And just as everyone predicted, the second half was a scoring bonanza. Of the seven combined possessions, five of them saw points. New England scored on their first possession of the third quarter to bring it to 20-17, only for the Jets to answer right back to regain the 10 point lead. A Patriots field goal on the next possession once again made it a one score game, and then - stop me if you’ve heard this one before - Joe Flacco found himself unable to resist a deep throw, so he took a shot downfield, and JC Jackson was able to come up with the pick. 11 plays and 72 yards later, a Cam Newton keeper brought the score to 27-27 with just under two minutes left in the game.
At this point, odds were that the next team to score was going to win, and with the Patriots kicking off to the Jets, New York only needed to go 40 yards or so to get into field goal range. Luckily, the defense stiffened; the Jets ran three plays for a grand total of three yards, and then punted. With 47 second left, the offense came on the field at their own 22 yard line.
Cam Newton immediately hit James White on an 11 yard screen. Another first down and a spike later, the Patriots were on their own 47 with 8 seconds left to play, well outside of field goal range. It would have been Hail Mary time - had Newton not wisely saved New England’s final timeout with that spike. He was able to hit Jakobi Meyers going across the middle for 20 yards, and the last TO was called with three seconds on the clock. The Patriots were on the Jets 33.
Nick Folk came onto the field for the FG for just the second time that night; his first attempt was a 29 yarder, but this kick, at 51 yards, was significantly longer than that. But Folk, as he pretty much did all season, whacked it right between the pipes as the clock expired to give the Patriots a 30-27 win - their first victory since Week 3.
If you want to make the case that Folk was the Patriots’s 2020 MVP, you aren’t going to get much argument from me. He was definitely the most consistent player on the team, and if we’re being completely honest he represented the best chance for points during a season where the offense was flat out awful at times. So it’s good to give him his due.
Am I overly happy to be putting a late comeback against one of the worst teams in the league on a countdown of the most memorable moments of the season? Not particularly. But was this an important game against a division rival?
Also not particularly.
But it’s always good to beat the Jets, a win is a win, and comebacks are always exciting. Plus it broke a 4 game losing streak and there were some great plays late to aid the W. So I’m not losing too much sleep over ranking this one here at Number 19.
See the kick here.
Full game highlights here.