Another week, another lack of major moves from the New England Patriots.
That’s not a complaint, mind you; just kind of the reality of this time of year every year. So may as well fill the void by continuing our offseason countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2021.
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.
17. Mac Jones hits Nelson Agholor for the first TD of the season against the Miami Dolphins.
Number 16 brings us to the moment when many of us first started to think that New England was onto something special.
16. A 41-yard Kendrick Bourne TD reception opens the game up against the Tennessee Titans.
The Tennessee Titans, after a fairly pedestrian 2-2 start (including an overtime loss to the New York Jets), completely caught fire in Week 5, rattling off six straight convincing wins to sit at 8-2 and put themselves on the inside track for the coveted One Seed in the AFC. However, an untimely Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans brought them back down to earth a bit, and as they came to Gillette Stadium to face a white hot 7-4 Patriots team, that hold on the one seed was looking tenuous. The Patriots were the winners of five straight, outscoring their last three opponents by a combined score of 94-13, and were making a real push to make some noise in the postseason. So this was a game that had real implications for both sides.
New England picked up right where they left off from the jump, forcing an immediate Titans three-and-out and answering with a touchdown drive to go up 7-0. The Patriots would actually score on four of their five first half possessions, with only a 53-yard field goal attempt as the second half expired sailing wide preventing them from being perfect on the day. Unfortunately, in what would be a pattern all season for New England, touchdowns were hard to come by and they had to settle for three instead of six, and in spite of continued strong defensive play, the score at halftime was only 16-13 in New England’s favor.
The Patriots took the opening possession of the third quarter all the way down to the Titans 10-yard line before the drive stalled, once again forcing a field goal, to make it 19-13. That was the way the score would stay for the next three possessions; Tennessee fumbled on its next opportunity, but the Patriots couldn’t capitalize and punted. Tennessee once again went three-and-out and punted back to the Patriots; the drive started from their own 44.
A short pass to Jakobi Meyers netted a quick 11 yards, and then Agholor was able to pick up five on second down after Damien Harris was stuffed for negative one yard. Facing a 3rd-and-6 at the Tennessee 41, Mac Jones was able to hit a wide open Kendrick Bourne across the middle on a shallow crossing route right at the first down marker with some daylight in front of him. As he broke towards the right sideline, no less than four Titans defenders descended on him at the 30-yard line for what looked to be a surefire stop.
However, in what seemed to be a classic case of “welp...I guess I’ll just let that guy make the play,” Bourne was able to shake two defenders just as Jakobi Meyers came in to throw a perfect chip block that allowed Bourne to take off down the sideline. The only thing between Bourne and the end zone was Titans linebacker Jayon Brown, who suddenly found himself on the business end of a textbook stiff-arm and found himself face-down on the turf before he even had a chance to register what was happening. It was Bourne’s second TD of the day and gave New England a comfortable 26-13 lead.
The Patriots would go on to score on all of their second half possessions, whereas Tennessee would manage only two punts and a pick as New England rolled to a 36-13 win. New England moved to 8-4 on the year, tied with Tennessee plus the tiebreaker, and right in the conversation for that one seed that the Titans had a stranglehold on not so long ago.
Honestly, I could put this whole game up here as Number 16. Sure the Titans were absolutely decimated by injury by the time this one took place, but it was just such a convincing win at every level. It was an incredibly likable Patriots team that was firing on all cylinders getting a dominant home win against a squad that a lot of folks picked to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. And this Bourne touchdown set the whole thing in motion. So, I like where it currently is and feel that it deserves to take center stage.
Check out the play here.
Full game highlights here.