Happy Last Week of No News, everyone!
By this time next week, the New England Patriots will have officially reported to training camp and the 2021 campaign will be underway. After what has hands down been one of the most eventful and interesting offseasons in team history, I’m even more excited for camp to start than ever.
And we only have three moments left on out countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2020. At this rate, we’ll be done with the list just in time for the preseason to start, which makes for a nice change of pace from the years past where I’m scrambling to get it all done before the year kicks off in earnest.
But before we get to Moment Number 3, here’s 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.
11. Rex Burkhead hurdles into the end zone just before halftime against the Las Vegas Raiders.
10. The Patriots sign Cam Newton.
9. Cam Newton hits Damiere Byrd for a 42 yard touchdown bomb against the Houston Texans.
8. Jakobi Meyers connects with Rex Burkhead in the end zone to take a 14-10 lead into the half against the Baltimore Ravens.
7. A last minute fumble short-circuits an epic comeback attempt against the Buffalo Bills.
6. A 49-yard Cam Newton rush against the New York Jets sets a Patriots record for longest run by a QB
5. Gunner Olzsewski takes a punt return to the house against the San Diego Chargers.
4. Jakobi Meyers hits Cam Newton in stride for a 19 yard score against the New York Jets.
At Number 3, we’re heading back across the country for one of the biggest plays of the entire year.
3. A blocked field goal attempt just before halftime leads to the second Special Teams TD of the day against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Patriots blew the doors off the Chargers in Week 13. We all know it, and I already recapped it just two week ago with my Number 5 Moment, which saw Gunner Olzsewski take a punt to the house as the rout was on. But as cool as that moment was, what really put the game away for good actually took place just before the half, as the Chargers were finally able to string some plays together to take the ball down to the New England 40 with just three seconds left in the 2nd quarter. Trailing 21-0, LA needed to get points on the board any way that they could. The Chargers would also be receiving the 2nd half kickoff, so if they could nail this 58 yard attempt, then get the ball back and score, a 21-10 deficit with most of the 2nd half to play wasn’t insurmountable.
However, a 58 yarder is no gimme, and as with all kicks over 50 yards, in order to get the distance the kicker has to sacrifice elevation. Michael Badgley actually got a nice boot on the ball at the snap, and it may very well have had the power and accuracy to put the Chargers on the board for the first time all game...but alas, we’ll never know. Justin Bethel got a great jump off the edge, which forced the left wing to compensate for the shove. As he did that, Cody Davis plowed through untouched and get both hands on the ball as it launched. Waiting for it off the one hop was Devin McCourty, who had nothing between him and the end zone but green field. You aren’t going to beat Devin McCourty in a footrace, and as he waltzed untouched into the end zone, he was soon met by what seemed like the entire Patriots roster - including Cam Newton - who couldn’t get enough of the play. Rather than head into the locker room up 21-3, the Patriots were up 28-0, and the game was more or less over.
In a year woefully devoid of comfortable wins, this Week 13 blowout was a nice break from the norm of what we watched on Sundays in 2020. This was also a great special teams play, once again highlighting why Bill Belichick is so fond of the words “all three phases.” And in a year where the offense had trouble putting up points, getting into the end zone in other ways was a good cause for celebration.
Not only that, but you’ll never have to twist my arm too hard to give Devin McCourty the respect he deserves. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call him underrated, but I do feel like his invaluable contributions to this team ever since he got drafted get overshadowed by other players. But all this guy has ever done was show up, make plays, and represent the most consistent guy on this defense every single week. That he was able to get a TD off of some great teamwork on special teams, just before the half, makes this a no brainer here at Number 3.
See the play here.
Full game highlights here.