The New England Patriots’ 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys was disappointing beyond the final score. The team also saw two of its starting defenders go down with injury: cornerback Christian Gonzalez and edge Matthew Judon had to exit the game in the first and fourth quarters, respectively, and did not return.
Details of Gonzalez’s injury are not yet available, but Judon suffered a lower bicep tendon tear. The Pro Bowler is potentially looking at a multi-month recovery process, and depending on the severity of the ailment might even be out for the rest of the season.
Considering his importance as a three-down defender, losing him for any extended period of time is a blow to the Patriots.
“Devastating,” said teammate Deatrich Wise Jr. during his postgame presser. “Devastating, but he was in good spirits. And we’ll be with him mentally throughout this year, and I know he’ll be with us too. There will be some guys behind him who’ll be stepping up and filling in his spot.”
Judon has been one of the Patriots’ best and most reliable players since his arrival as an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Appearing in 39 games, he registered 32 sacks as well as two forced fumbles and recoveries each. A Pro Bowler in each of those two seasons, Judon proved himself a tone setter on and off the field.
Now, the Patriots will have to operate without him for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, they will have to turn on “next man up” mode: players such as Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings and Keion White will see their roles change with Judon likely headed to injured reserve.
“It sucks when guys get injured. I wish there was a button that would just cut all injuries, like Madden. But, that’s the dark side of football. Guys get injured,” said Wise Jr. “And when guys get injured, we rally around those guys mentally to let them know they’re still a part of the team. To let them know, ‘Once you get back we’ll welcome you with open arms, and get you going. But while you’re rehabbing or however long it takes for you to get back on the field, we’ll be with you.’
“Until then, there are guys behind guys that are injured, and a lot of guys who can fill in his spot and fill in other people’s spots. We have great guys around us, who can also make plays too.”