The warmups before their Week 17 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars were a sign of things to come: the New England Patriots were not going to let the last two weeks repeat themselves. They would not start as slowly as they had against the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills.
Getting off to a good start was a focus throughout the week leading up to the contest against Jacksonville, and it showed on Sunday. The Patriots came out with a purpose even for something as trivial as pregame stretching. New England kept its foot on the gas throughout the rest of the day, jumped to an early lead, and eventually ended up blowing out the Jaguars with a final score of 50-10.
“That was great,” head coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “It was great to play from ahead instead of playing from behind and being down 20-0 and all that. It’s brutal. Yeah, it’s really good.”
Center David Andrews had a similar response to New England’s focus on starting well.
“That’s something the last few weeks we haven’t done a good job of,” he said during his postgame press conference. “Kind of been playing from behind, showed a lot of fight at times but when you’re playing from behind the whole game it’s hard.”
Against the Jaguars, the Patriots showed that they meant business from the first drive on. Their defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, allowing the offense to drive 70 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Jacksonville did answer with a field goal on its next possession but New England kept pushing, eventually going into the half up 28-3.
Along the way, the team scored touchdowns on all four of its offensive possessions. The defense, meanwhile, intercepted Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence twice.
It was the kind of consistent and complementary football that New England had struggled to play in its losses to Indianapolis and Buffalo.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” said Andrews. “No let-up, nothing like that. It was a good job by everyone going in there and executing. Did a lot of things right. They do a lot of blitzes, handled that pretty well for the most part. Everyone went out there and did their job and when you do that and have 11 guys on the same page executing, a lot of good things can happen.”
Safety Adrian Phillips, who signed a three-year contract extension one day before the game, also lauded the team’s ability to bounce back after two disappointing games.
“We knew that this week we really had to go out there and play, go out there and dominate and don’t worry about anything else,” he said. “For us to go out there and do that today is a step in the right direction. We just have to keep doing it.”