Mandatory minicamp is in the books, and Mac Jones looked great. Nothing like completely overanalyzing no-contact practices in early June; it’s the perfect warmup for completely overanalyzing training camp reps before we all start completely overanalyzing meaningless preseason games.
Other than a few OTAs next week With offseason workouts over, we’re not going to have anything at all to report in terms of real news here at Pats Pulpit, so this is a great time to enter the home stretch on our countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable New England 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.
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.
10. A quick out to Jakobi Meyers results in his first career touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.
9. Free Agent Frenzy.
At Number 8, we find ourselves righting some wrongs and returning the NFL to normalcy.
8. The Patriots obliterate the Jaguars and find themselves back in the NFL Playoffs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, with the first overall pick in the 2021 Draft, were able to select a quarterback touted by many as a generational talent. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was the consensus best player available and a man to build a franchise around.
Unfortunately for Lawrence, the Jags are only a franchise in the most basic definition of the term, as they once again found them bumbling and stumbling their way through the 2021 season as Lawrence struggled and Jacksonville sat at 2-13 and long eliminated from playoff contention by the time their Week 17 matchup with the Patriots came around. New England had just lost two straight, but needed just one win to secure a postseason berth. A game that was hyped early on as the battle of the first round QBs didn’t have as much luster by the time kickoff rolled around, but it was a game the Patriots badly needed (nobody wanted to need a win at Miami to secure the playoffs) and the Jags hadn’t won a game since early November, a brutally ugly 9-6 win over the Bills.
Each team’s first possession represented a perfect microcosm of this game as a whole. The Jags went three and out, New England drove 70 yards on 11 plays and scored a touchdown. Jacksonville’s next three possessions went field goal, interception, interception, and end of half.
New England had four first half possessions and scored touchdowns on all of them. The Jaguars only had one more point than they had interceptions as the first half came to a close, and the 28-3 lead the Patriots took into halftime would most definitively not be choked away in epic fashion. They tacked on 13 more unanswered in the third quarter, and Jacksonville wouldn’t sniff the end zone until there was less than four minutes to play and the Patriots were up 50-3.
Brian Hoyer was in the game while there was still over 10 minutes left to play, as Mac Jones finished the day 22-for-30 for 227 yards and three touchdowns. The quarterback drafted 14 spots before him was 17-for-27 on the day for 193 yards, one TD, three picks, and two sacks. The game was a beatdown of epic proportions, and exactly what the Patriots needed to get themselves back on track and into the playoffs.
This shellacking would ultimately represent the last win the Patriots registered in 2021, as they lost at Miami the following week (shocking) before getting absolutely destroyed by Buffalo in the wild card playoff round. But as far as last wins go, it was as complete a victory as you’re going to get. More importantly, it ended an absolutely brutal one-season playoff drought for the Patriots and represented mission accomplished in almost every way.
For the vast majority of Patriots fans, 2021 represented the first year of a rebuild in which the realistic goal was to build rapport, see the young QB develop, build for the future, try and get to at least 10 wins, secure a playoff spot, and maybe make some noise in the postseason. And while the latter happened for all the wrong reasons, the 2021 Patriots were able to check off every box on that list, and it was very hard not to be excited about this team for the future. Hanging 50 on anybody is no small feat, and keeping a team out of the end zone completely until garbage time ain’t too shabby either. Combine that with a full team win, another playoff berth, and our rookie significantly outplaying their rookie, and I think this is a great choice here at Number 8.
Game highlights here.