The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching, so our attention over the new weeks is going to be on draft prospects, potential targets, and which DII defensive back Bill Belichick is going to take in the 2nd round after he packages the 15th pick for three second rounders and a third next year while everyone’s head explodes. Thus, I wanted to get one more of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2020 checked off before all the madness hits.
The list so far:
20. A diving N’Keal Harry grab in the end zone makes it a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
19. A last second 51 yard Nick Folk field goal caps off a comeback win against the New York Jets.
18. Two red zone trips, zero total points against the Kansas City Chiefs.
17. A fourth down option read to James White puts the Patriots on the board against the Arizona Cardinals.
16. A last-second goal line stand prevents the Patriots from stealing a game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.
15. A nonsensical blindside blocking flag negates an 82 yard punt return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals.
At Number 14, we get to enjoy a moment that took place during a real rarity for the Patriots during the 2020 season: a blowout.
14. Derrick Carr is strip sacked in the end zone to put six points on the board and put the game away against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Patriots were expected to win Week 1 against the Dolphins, and they won. They were expected to lose Week 2 against the Seahawks, and they lost. As for Week 3, when the
Oakland Los Angeles Oakland Las Vegas Raiders came to town, feelings were somewhat mixed. The Raiders were 2-0, having beaten both the Panthers and the Saints, and scored at least 30 points per game in both contests. The 1-1 Patriots looked solid as well - but not as good as Vegas. The Raiders were one of those teams a lot of experts had pegged as a potential postseason dark horse, and there was a big difference between being 2-1 and 1-2 through three weeks of the year.
For the entire first half of this one, the game was close. Vegas jumped out to a three point lead in the first quarter, and the teams traded points back and forth as New England took a 13-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Raiders actually put a nice drive together after receiving the third quarter kickoff, but a missed FG attempt negated an 8 play, 53 yard drive that could have tied things up.
From this point, whatever adjustments Bill Belichick made kicked right in, because the Patriots put their foot on the gas and never looked back. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal on their next three possessions, and the most that Vegas was able to muster was an early 4th quarter field goal. When the Patriots engineered a 10 play, 86 yard drive that took six minutes off the clock and put New England up 29-13 with just a little over five minutes left to play, that was more or less it.
However, the Patriots weren’t done. Jake Bailey’s ensuing kickoff pinned the Raiders at their own 12 yard line, and an illegal blocking penalty pushed Vegas back five yards to their own six. Down two scores with five minutes to play and 94 yards between the ball and the end zone is a tough ask for any offense. But it ultimately wouldn’t even matter, because on the very first play of the drive, as Derek Carr sat in shotgun with an empty backfield looking for some chunk yards, Chase Winovich got under his man and made a beeline for Carr in the end zone, forcing him to step up in a rapidly collapsing pocket in an attempt to avoid the safety. Waiting for him was Deatrich Wise and Shalique Calhoun, who had also beaten their man and were barreling up the middle. Carr didn’t stand a chance, and down he went.
The play initially looked like a safety, but Wise had actually managed to jar the ball loose as he was bringing the quarterback down and had the wherewithal to recover it in the end zone for the score. Any minute hope of an epic Raider comeback was gone as the Patriots went up 36-13. The Raiders would tack on a meaningless TD on their final possession, but this game was officially over.
Bill Belichick is always harping about complementary football, and this sequence showed why. A long offensive drive to kill clock and put points on the board, solid special teams play to pin the offense back deep, and then forcing the turnover on D to completely put the game away. End zone sacks are always exciting, and that goes double for end zone strip sacks that result in touchdowns. And since the Patriots really weren’t in too many blowout games like this, it’s nice to land this one here at Number 14.
See the play here.
Full game highlights here.