clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Justin Jefferson gives Patriots secondary all it can handle in Thursday night defeat

Related: Hunter Henry discusses controversial reversed touchdown catch

Slowing down wide receiver Justin Jefferson is no easy task, and the New England Patriots learned that the hard way Thursday night. Jefferson hauled in nine receptions for 139 yards and a score against New England, the most receiving yards they've allowed to any receiver all year.

Jefferson defeated everything the Patriots threw at him. Whether it was Jonathan Jones in single coverage, Kyle Dugger jamming him at the line, or Jones passing him off in the middle of the field, it didn't matter. The 23-year-old beat almost everything, even several double teams as he made a handful of spectacular downfield catches.

“Obviously, we didn’t do a good job of that at all,” Devin McCourty said when asked about their coverage on Jefferson.

Even when Jefferson wasn't making plays with the ball in his hands, his presence was felt. On Adam Thielen’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, Thielen was left one-on-one with Jalen Mills as Jefferson drew the attention of three Patriots’ defenders.

“Trying to do what we gotta do,” Devin McCourty explained. “You got a player out there that's having a hell of a game, a really good player. It got to the point in the game where it wasn't just help him, we had to get him. ... We knew we had to get him and try to make sure that he didn't make any more plays in the man-to-mans and that's what we did.

“We know when that happens we got to do a good job on everybody else. It’s always tough once they go crossing routes and those over routes running away from leverage. But, like again, those are plays we just got to try and make, figuring out how we help can each other even though getting him and trying to make those plays.”

As Bill Belichick noted earlier in the week, Jefferson has gotten off to a “historic” start in his young career. He added to his accolades against New England, as he passed Randy Moss for the most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons.

“That’s a special talent,” Matthew Judon said postgame. “You get those every so often in the league and he does what he does every week. You got to cover him, but that’s a special talent.”

As the Patriots now turn the page to Buffalo, New England knows they have to be better. With a receiver like Stefon Diggs waiting for them, a similar performance will lead to even scarier results.

“We got another guy who’s pretty good next week so we got to look at what we can do to better handle a guy like that,” McCourty said. “Between Diggs and Gabe Davis next week it will be a very similar challenge to what we got tonight with Jefferson. If we play like that against No. 1 guys it’ll be a long year.”