Marcus Jones will probably not forget the New England Patriots’ win over the New York Jets in Week 11 anytime soon. Not only did he secure victory with a last-second punt return touchdown, Jones also had some special guests watching from the stands.
As the rookie noted during his post-game press conference, both his parents were in attendance for the first time all season.
“This was their first time, both together, coming to this game,” he said. “Just excited for them to see the atmosphere of this place and just having a good time watching the game.”
The game Jones’ parents saw was a defensive affair. New England went up 3-0 in the second quarter on a Nick Folk field goal, but the Jets were able to tie it up before the half.
While the home team had several chances to retake the lead, the game stood at 3-3 when New York sent its punt team out with 26 seconds left to play. The expectation, at least from the Patriots’ punt return, was that the Jets’ Braden Mann would kick the ball out of bounds.
“I thought they were going to go ahead and kick it out of bounds, due to the time on the clock,” he said.
Mann did not kick the ball out of bounds, however, and instead gave the Patriots’ electric rookie a chance to run the kick back. 84 yards later, Jones was in the end zone for his first career touchdown and New England’s sixth win of the season.
“My first thing was ball security,” Jones said about the play. “So, making sure I track the ball and everything because the wind was going crazy out there. That was the main thing, and just staying within the scheme. Without my teammates on that play, it would have been a hard play to make. ...
“And then I saw the punter and I was like, ‘If I make him miss then I should be able to go the distance.’”
Jones scoring the game-winner did not happen by accident. The third-round draft pick already entered the game as one of the most prolific returners in the NFL, and had several positive runbacks this season. Obviously, though, none were as big as the one against the Jets.
“You see that kid in college — you don’t have that much success by accident,” said team captain Matthew Slater. “He’s got a lot of God-given ability. And I think all the good ones I’ve been around, they’ve had that fearlessness to them. They’re not afraid of the moment, they’re not afraid to get hit. They want to go out and make a play. They’re not hoping they can make a play, they believe they can make a play.
“And I think he has that, and I think that was on full display today. His belief in us to block for him. His belief in himself to go out and execute what he’s asked to do, all that was on display.”
Despite the special nature of the moment, Jones has already flipped the page with the next game just four days away.
“It’s one of those situations where I’m happy, definitely, for the divisional win,” he said. “That’s the main thing, and now I’m on to the next week. I’m one of those people.”