Here’s a glance through what went into Sunday’s AFC East encounter as New England moves to 1-1 on the regular season.
Jones takes the first round against Wilson
Mac Jones won the first round against the quarterback drafted 13 slots before him in April’s NFL draft.
The Alabama product completed his initial seven passes during Sunday’s matinee. He finished 22-of-30 for 186 yards with no touchdowns nor interceptions. Along the way arrived a drop in the bucket for wide receiver Jakobi Meyers down the left sideline that netted 24 yards. But Jones spread the ball around to seven different Patriots teammates. Pick No. 15 overall had previously completed 74.4 percent of his throws for 281 yards and one touchdown to wideout Nelson Agholor in his starting debut.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson went 19-of-33 for 210 yards and four interceptions in his divisional bout with the Patriots. It marked the earliest that a pair of quarterbacks drafted in the first round met in their first seasons since Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota did so in 2015.
Musical chairs continue at right tackle
The Patriots downgraded Trent Brown from questionable to out on the eve of the 1 p.m. ET kickoff in East Rutherford due to a calf strain. And in the 6-foot-8, 380-pound right tackle’s absence, it would be Yasir Durant getting the start against the Jets.
The August trade acquisition from the Kansas City Chiefs lined up against Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers, who generated a sack and fumble that Durant recovered in the second quarter. It hit the gamebook after a sack by blitzing safety Marcus Maye ended the opening drive. But when Brown had exited seven snaps into the season opener versus the Miami Dolphins, swing tackle Justin Herron initially replaced the Super Bowl LIII champion before Durant got the call.
Herron replaced Durant at right tackle before halftime on Sunday. The musical chairs continued as the 2020 sixth-round pick out of Wake Forest limped off and Durant stepped back on. Herron ultimately returned from the sideline midway through the third quarter.
Harris rumbles past Week 1 fumble
A Sunday removed from having 117 yards from scrimmage overshadowed by a fumble in the closing minutes, Damien Harris made the memory distant. New England’s lead running back got the opening handoff against New York. He handled 16 altogether for 62 yards, fighting through seven missed tackles for a rumbling touchdown of 26 in the third before being halted at the goal line in the fourth.
James White kept the backfield on an even keel in his company. The offensive captain rushed for 20 yards and a touchdown while also catching six passes for 45 yards, including a screening gain of 28.
Veteran Brandon Bolden and 2020 undrafted addition J.J. Taylor were on hand for the Patriots’ depth chart, as well. Taylor getting the green light came at the expense of rookie fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson, who went to the inactives list after a catch became a fumble in Week 1.
New York’s offensive line moves ground without Becton
The Jets placed Mekhi Becton on injured reserve after a kneecap dislocation against the Carolina Panthers required arthroscopic surgery. And without the standout left tackle available to face the Patriots, George Fant switched spots and Morgan Moses took his place at right tackle.
New England’s defensive front managed to notch four sacks — courtesy of Carl Davis, Matt Judon and twice Josh Uche — a week after New York’s reshuffled line conceded six. But the running backs behind that reshuffled line averaged 4.75 yards per carry.
Despite a stuff by Patriots defensive tackle Lawrence Guy that kept a touchdown off the board in the second quarter, New York’s committee had 71 yards through 14 attempts at the half. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and safety Kyle Dugger wrapped up a tackles for loss afterward. A trio of Jets backs all wrapped up gains of double digits, however, culminating in 133 rushing yards.
Keeping tabs on two tight ends
Tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry combined for 73 yards in their first game as a tandem. In their second, the March signings by way of the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers combined for 70.
Smith was targeted five times and caught four for 28 yards. Henry was targeted four times and caught two for 42 yards. The Patriots opened in “21” personnel on Sunday, with Henry getting the start and Smith subbing in by the fourth play of the drive.
Devin Asiasi would be among the inactives for a second consecutive game. The sophomore tight end caught the position’s lone touchdown last season in the finale against New York.
Jackson accounts for two of New England’s four interceptions
Stephon Gilmore’s assignment during a challenging 2018 meeting with the Titans was Corey Davis. The wide receiver returned as a Jet this time. And with the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year on physically unable to perform, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson shared time covering him.
Sunday began with a tip and an interception for Jackson, extending his pick streak against the Jets to three games. It continued as a pass intended for Davis slipped through and into the hands of diving Patriots safety Adrian Phillips.
As New York’s top receiver, Davis finished the matchup with two catches for eight yards. He was looked to on a handful of occasions. And Jackson would get his hands on another interception opposite Jets rookie wideout Elijah Moore before intermission. As would defensive captain Devin McCourty in the third quarter.
Folk sets franchise record against former team
Intentional grounding by New England’s rookie QB resulted in a loss of down, a loss of yards and a timeout being called to preserve the closing seconds of the first half.
But it led to kicker Nick Folk converting from 49 yards out. Doing so tied a franchise record held by Patriots all-time scoring leader Stephen Gostkowski with 31 field goals made in a row. He’d later make it 32 in a row from 32 yards away to set a new record. And then 33 in a row from 26 yards away.
Against a Jets team he spent seven years with, Folk made four field goals and missed one extra point.