As we creep up on that mythical Dead Time on the NFL calendar, there’s reason to get excited. Most importantly, summer is almost here! Let’s get out there and hit the beach.
But it also means it’s almost time for training camp, and 2021 promises to be one of the most exciting preseasons in recent memory. So I’m trying to knock off as many of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2020 before we get too deep into camp so we can keep all of our focus where it belongs. So expect me to crank these out quickly over the coming weeks.*
*There’s zero chance that happens. Once the weather gets nice I’ll likely do what I always do and slack off before scrambling to finish before September hits. But it’s a nice notion.
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.
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.
13. A goal line stand just before halftime keeps the game close against the Arizona Cardinals.
12. The Patriots debut the RPO offense against the Miami Dolphins.
At Number 11, we’re going to get a little bit airborne.
11. Rex Burkhead hurdles into the end zone just before halftime against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In what turned out to be something of an anomaly in 2020, the Patriots blew the doors off the Raiders during their Week 3 matchup to move them up to 2-1 on the young season. The Final score of 36-20, doesn’t even reflect how far apart these two teams were, as LV’s last TD came well into garbage time when the game was already out of reach.
However, for almost the entire first half, a measly field goal separated the Pats and Raiders. New England fell behind by three towards the end of the first quarter, but answered back with their own FG to tie it up early in the 2nd. Vegas fumbled on their next possession, and New England was able to use that field position to get another three points on the board to make it 6-3. The Raiders were unable to get anything going on the next drive, and the Patriots answered with one of their best drives of the entire 2020 campaign: a 12 play, 86 yard drive in which Sony Michel picked up chunks on the ground and Cam Newton went 5 of 6 in the air. On 3rd and 3 from the 11 yard line, Newton ran a quick screen pass to Rex Burkhead, who caught the ball a good five yards behind the line of scrimmage. A great block from Shaq Mason was able to spring him for at least a one or two yard gain, but Burkhead was able to juke his way for the first down and more as he barrelled towards the goal line - and a mass of about four players all heading for the exact same spot. It looked like New England was going to be looking at first and goal from about the two.
However, Burkhead left his feet, diving headfirst forward just as the DB got to him, sending him ass over teakettle into the air and the end zone. He landed hard on his shoulder, but got right up to celebrate the score. Patriots 13, Raiders 3.
The touchdown was the first of three Burkhead scores on the day, and it also represented something that was a real rarity in 2020: a receiving TD. Plus, it was just a great play; Burkhead juked out a bunch of guys before launching into the end zone. In a season woefully devoid of true highlight reel plays, it’s nice to see one here, and so I feel like I have it ranked fairly here at Number 11.
Check out the play here.
Full game highlights here.