Number 11 is always one of the hardest slots to fill on my annual countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable New England Patriots Moments of the year. Top 10 lists are really where it’s at, so whatever comes in at 11 basically represents the coolest play or moment that wasn’t quite good enough to crack the big leagues. And this year was no exception — but I’m happy with my choice.
But first, 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.
16. A 41-yard Kendrick Bourne TD reception opens the game up against the Tennessee Titans.
15. A late Nick Folk field goal caps off a 15 play game-winning drive over the Houston Texans.
14. Mac Jones is named the starter over Cam Newton.
13. Nick Folk can’t connect on a 56 yard FG attempt to complete the comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
12. An Adrian Phillips pick-six seals the game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
At No. 11, we’re going back to the offensive side of the ball for a little razzle dazzle and a convincing victory.
11. Kendrick Bourne connects with Nelson Agholor to kick off an epic beatdown of the New York Jets.
When the New York Jets came to Gillette Stadium for the second meeting of the 2021 campaign, the Patriots had lost three of their last four, and sitting at 2-4, were very much in danger of letting the season slip down the drain. Although New England won the first matchup, the Jets were coming off a convincing win over the Titans and a narrow loss to the Falcons. The Patriots had yet to win at home in 2021, if the Jets could come into Foxborough and pull off the win, it would mean a 2-5 hole the team may very well not be able to dig out of.
Fortunately, from the opening possession, the Patriots took control of the hammer and never let it go. Their initial drive went 65 yards on just four plays, with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor opening up the scoring spree.
It was not, however, Mac Jones that connected with Agholor.
On 1st-and-10 at the Jet 25, Kendrick Bourne, the lone receiver on the strong side, motioned across the line and behind Jones pre-snap. After a quick play-action fake to Damien Harris, Jones threw the ball to Bourne at the 32 in what looked like a screen, at which point no fewer than five Jets began to swarm him. But rather than try and take off, Bourne stopped, set his feet, and threw a beautiful rainbow that a wide open Agholor caught in stride before walking into the end zone untouched. New England 7, Jets 0.
That touchdown would be the first of seven that the Patriots scored that day. Of their 10 offensive possessions (11 if you include the end of game kneel-downs), the Patriots scored on nine of them; their only punt came late in the 3rd quarter with the game already well out of hand at 34-13. The final score of 54-13 doesn’t even accurately reflect just how bad of a beatdown this was. And it all started with Kendrick Bourne’s pass.
I’ve always been a sucker for the occasional trick play, so odds are that if the Patriots pull something cool off, it’s going to make the list. And while I don’t think we’ll ever see a receiver-to-receiver pass quite as amazing as this one ever again, Bourne-to-Agholor was a very nice connection that kicked off an absolute shellacking of a division rival. And I know that the Jets are terrible...but I’ll never, ever get tired of sticking it to that team. That victory also kicked off a seven game winning streak that set the Patriots back on the right track, so I think it’s right where it belongs here at No. 11.
Check out the play here.
Full game highlights here.