To be honest, I wasn’t planning on knocking off another item on out offseason countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Moments of 2021 this week, as I was expecting there to be a little more movement on the Free Agency front than what we’ve gotten. But seeing as we’re officially back to the March we’ve come to know and...tolerate...these past 20 years, there’s not a whole lot going on. So may as well keep the party going.
The list so far:
20. The Patriots trade Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers for a sixth-round pick.
19. A Week 1 goal line fumble costs the Patriots the game at home against the Miami Dolphins.
18. A four interception day secures New England’s first win of the season against the New York Jets.
At 17, we have what I’m hoping will go down as an incredibly historic moment in NFL history.
17. Mac Jones hits Nelson Agholor for the first TD of the season against the Miami Dolphins.
The quarterback who started the 2021 season for the New England Patriots was doing so amid a bit of controversy; as rookie Mac Jones took the field for his ever official NFL start, there were still a number of fans who thought that Cam Newton was the way to go for this year. But Mac was the guy, and so the hope was that he wouldn’t be asked to do too much as he settled into his new role. The Miami Dolphins represented a solid test out of the gate, but the hope was the running game and the defense would keep it close.
And for the most part, it was just that. Miami got out to an early 7-0 lead on their opening possession, but after that it was nothing but punts and field goals for both sides for almost the entire rest of the first half. New England was actually moving the ball pretty well - their first scoring drive of the year went 65 yards on 14 plays to end in a field goal - but in what would kind of be a harbinger of things to come for the year, they had trouble getting into the end zone. After a Miami three and out, Mac Jones got the ball back on his own 37 with just over three minutes to play in the second quarter.
Of the seven plays on that drive, four of them were either Damien Harris runs or short receptions. A deep crosser over the middle to Agholor put the Patriots in great field position, and then a roughing the passer call set them up with first and goal at the nine yard line.
Harris was stuffed on first down. On 2nd and goal from the 7, with Meyers and Agholor lined up on the left side, a quick playaction fake to Harris brought the Miami linebackers close to the line. Meyers ran and in and out route to the corner, and as a blitzing Miami defender came free, Agholor cut in and sat down right at the four. Mac Jones, facing pressure, released the ball just as he was hit, and Agholor made the reception and danced into the end zone untouched. New England had its first lead of the 2021 season.
Is a seven yard touchdown pass in Week 1 that big of a deal? Absolutely not - at least not right now. But I’m hoping that one day this pass is going to be looked at the same way that we see the TD Tommy B threw to Terry Glenn back in October of 2001; seeing as how that ball recently sold at auction and Terry Glenn (RIP) is now forever connected with Brady in that he caught the GOAT’s first ever touchdown, I thought it was important to put some good juju out into the world and record this moment so that we can all look back on this pass as the beginning of something great.
I harbor no expectations for Mac Jones to be the second coming of Tom Brady - he was a once in a lifetime talent and we’ll never have anything like that ever again - but I do think that Jones did almost everything he possibly could to set himself up for greatness down the line, and because of that I feel like the first TD pass of his career deserved a spot somewhere on this list. Nelson Agholor may be the answer to a trivia question 15 years from now - at least I certainly hope so. It would have been higher if it came in a W or represented some kind of come from behind victory, but since it didn’t have much of an impact on the game overall, I think it’s where it belongs at Number 17.
See the TD here.
Full game highlights here.