The New England Patriots (4-4) extended their winning streak to 13 games over the New York Jets (5-3) with a 22-17 victory on Sunday. In a game that both second-year quarterbacks struggle, it was New England’s defense and special teams that put them in position to win the game.
Here’s who stood for better, and for worse, from the victory in the Meadowlands.
Loser: QB Mac Jones. In Jones’ first full game back from his high ankle sprain, he was not overly impressive. Coming out of Alabama, Jones was known for his smart decision-making and accuracy as a passer. On Sunday, he continued his struggles seeing the field, often locking in on one target and looking panicky in the pocket. He missed a handful of throws and got bailed out on a would-be pick-six that was negated for a penalty.
Jones was at his best in the second half operating in the quick-game out of shotgun, something multiple players noted postgame was beneficial. Perhaps more of that going forward can help New England get its sophomore quarterback right.
Winner: RB Rhamondre Stevenson. Another day another monster performance from Rhamondre Stevenson. He paced New England’s offense all day finishing with 143 out of the team’s 288 scrimmage yards. Stevenson continues to impress after contact on the ground, making a handful of defenders miss en route to a 35-yard run to help New England score its only touchdown of the day. He also has remained one of the team’s most reliable options in the passing attack.
Loser: Offensive Line. It was a messy day for New England’s front with captain David Andrews (concussion) sidelined. Pass protection continued to be an issue as the Jets often got home with just four man rushes. At right tackle, which Bill Belichick told CBS Sports the play at that position has been a weak spot this season, Marcus Cannon continued to struggle in pass protection as him and Isaiah Wynn split time.
Wynn also spent time at left guard as rookie Cole Strange (sack, two penalties) had his fair share of issues. It’s hard to fault the rookie in all instances as he was lined up against Quinnen Williams. James Ferentz also struggled while starting in Andrews’ place.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers. Besides Stevenson, Meyers was the Patriots’ only other consistent offensive threat. His 12 targets and nine receptions led New England as he added the team’s only touchdown of the afternoon in the third quarter. The duo of Meyers and Stevenson accounted for 70 percent of the team’s scrimmage yards.
Winner: Special Teams. After a poor special teams showing last week against Chicago, it was a strong bounce back for the Patriots against the Jets, who entered the game as the third-ranked special teams unit in Football Outsiders DVOA rating. Nick Folk was 5-for-5 in field goals — including four over 40 yards and a new season-long of 52 yards — while Jake Bailey rebounded with a strong punting performance.
One hiccup could be looked at rookie DaMarcus Mitchell failing to down a punt inside the 10-yard line, but it may have been a poor call by the officials. Rookie Marcus Jones also had a 32-yard punt return while Jack Jones appeared to get a hand on a New York field goal resulting in a miss.
Winner: EDGE Matthew Judon: Judon gets the spotlight for his creation of the “boogie oogie” statistic, but it was a strong game from New England’s front. While Lawerence Guy and Josh Uche recorded the only two sacks of the game, Judon had a handful of pressures and a pass deflection. The Patriots’ constant pressure on Zach Wilson throughout the game was a key factor in his three interceptions.
Honorable mentions: On defense, Devin McCourty hauled in two interceptions while Ja’Whaun Bentley snagged the other. It was Bentley’s second in his career while McCourty became the NFL leader in interceptions by active players with 33.
Besides McCourty, the other Patriots safeties were busy with Kyle Dugger out. Joshuah Bledsoe saw the biggest uptick in snaps and was beat twice by Tyler Conklin for touchdowns. Jabrill Peppers led the team in tackles and helped force Wilson’s first interception on a well-timed blitz, but did have a bad unnecessary roughness penalty. Adrian Phillips continued to be as solid as ever, highlighted by a strong pass breakup in the end zone.
After losing several starters last week, New England left Sunday relatively healthy. The only loss was wide receiver DeVante Parker who left the game early with a knee injury (perhaps a MCL sprain). The injury could impact the Patriots plans on Tuesday’s trade deadline with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.