Memorial Day Weekend is here, and with it, the unofficial start of summer and the beginnings of the slowest time on the entire NFL calendar. What better chance to kick off that coveted Top 10 on our offseason countdown of the Top 20 New England Patriots Moments of 2021.
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.
11. Kendrick Bourne connects with Nelson Agholor to kick off an epic beatdown of the New York Jets.
Number 10 was, for me at least, an absolute no-brainer.
10. A quick out to Jakobi Meyers results in his first career touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.
If you’re a lazy hack sports journalist looking to spew out some quick clickbait during the NFL offseason, you can never go wrong with a few hundred words touting that the Cleveland Browns are your pick to finally make some noise this year. Each year, without fail, the Browns seem to make some big offseason move; be it a blockbuster trade, a marquis Free Agent signing, a coveted draft pick, or exciting new hire, the Browns always seem poised to finally make that leap into the conversation of AFC title contenders.
And then, of course, the season starts, and all of that goes right out the window.
The 5-4 Browns came to play the 5-4 Patriots on November 14, 2021 having just walloped the eventual AFC Champion Bengals 41-16. The Patriots were winners of three straight and looking to secure just their second home win all year. Two 5-4 teams playing in mid-November is the kind of game that has playoff implications written all over it.
And true to tradition, this game was over by halftime. The touchdown that Cleveland scored on their opening possession represented the only points that they would score all day. The Patriots wouldn’t punt all day, scored 24 unanswered first half points, and when the team was up 38-7 as the third quarter came to a close Mac Jones’s day ended early.
The Patriots only had one fourth quarter possession, two if you count the end of game kneel-downs, and this time is was Brian Hoyer who carved the Browns up, six plays and 95 yards later, he capped off New England’s offensive explosion with a seven yard touchdown pass.
The man who caught that pass? Jakobi Meyers.
On 2nd-and-5 from the Cleveland 11, a quick play action to J.J. Taylor and a nice little rub route from Nelson Agholor allowed Meyers to get himself wide open on a three yard flat route. CB Troy Hill was in position to make the tackle, but Meyers was able to shake him off and sprint down the right sideline before a straight up Superman dive saw him cross the goal line for the score.
That this TD came in garbage time with the backup QB didn’t matter in the slightest to Meyers’s teammates, who all swarmed him like he had just won the Patriots a championship. Players sprinted down from the sidelines, jumping into the scrum, as Gillette Stadium erupted. It was pure joy personified from everyone involved, timing or score be damned.
That catch, run, and score represented Jakobi’s 135th career catch. He also entered into that Week 10 matchup with 1,522 career receiving yards, the most by any receiver in NFL history who had yet to record a single score. That streak was finally over.
In the post-Tom Brady era of Patriots football, the team has been somewhat inconsistent on offense. They’d score 40 points one week, struggle to get even 13 the next. There has been uncertainty at quarterback and players retiring and just a general shifting of the tides after the last two decades of dominance. But amid all that turnover, one offensive player you could count on to deliver week in and week out without fail has been Jakobi Meyers. He is the latest Patriots success story, an undrafted rookie in 2019 who took advantage of his reps, earned the trust of the coaches and players, and ensconced himself as an indispensable member of this squad. Along the way, Meyers has become a huge fan favorite, and the folks in the stands at Gillette that day made sure that he knew just how much he was loved by this region.
It’s oddly fitting that Meyers’s first ever career TD came in garbage time during a blowout, as just grinding away under the radar has been his MO for two years now. And if this had been some kind of game winner or come during a more crucial moment of the season, I for sure would have had it ranked way higher. But as it is, it’s still more than deserving of kicking off my Top 10.
Check out the TD here.
Full Pats/Browns highlights here.