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The Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2022: No. 11

Our offseason countdown continues with the No. 11 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2022.

New England Patriots (24) Vs. Green Bay Packers (27) At Lambeau Field Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The schedule comes out tomorrow night, which means we get to spend all day tomorrow searching the web for the inevitable early leaks and then the rest of this week overanalyzing a bunch of games that won’t be happening for four more months. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most popular sport in America is the NFL, and the second most popular is the NFL offseason.

Better sneak another Top 20 New England Patriots Moment in before all the madness starts.

The list so far:

20. The Patriots trade N’Keal Harry.
19. A game-sealing Mac Jones interception is coupled with a gruesome ankle injury against the Ravens.
18. Rookies step up big in relief duty against the Arizona Cardinals.
17. Hunter Henry catches/doesn’t catch a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
16. Nelson Agholor harnesses his inner Randy Moss with an insane 44 yard TD grab against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
15. Devin McCourty registers his 200th start against the Buffalo Bills.
14. A blocked punt leads to the first touchdown of the day as the Patriots blow out the Indianapolis Colts.
13. Tyquan Thornton emerges with a two touchdown day against the Cleveland Browns
12. A Marcus Jones pick-six puts the Patriots on the board against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Our No. 12 Moment saw an electric pix-six that swung the momentum of the game. Happy to run something very similar back (pardon the pun) for No. 11.

11. Jack Jones picks off Aaron Rodgers and takes it 40 yards for the score to give the Patriots the lead against the Green Bay Packers.

There weren’t many Patriots fans that thought the Week 4 matchup between the Patriots and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field was going to be a W when the 2022 schedule first came out, and even those few who chose the path of eternal optimism couldn’t seem to find their rose colored glasses when it was announced that Mac Jones was still nursing his ankle injury and Brian Hoyer would be getting the start. New England had lost 37-26 the week before, and most Pats fans would have been happy with a similar score in what was sure to be a loss.

However, this game was not the Packers blowout that everyone anticipated. The Patriots actually struck first with a 10-play opening drive that resulted in — shocker! — a Nick Folk field goal, and the D was able to force a fumble on the first Green Bay possession. Six plays later, though, Hoyer was knocked out of the game on a Rashan Gary sack, and the Patriots had to punt.

The next Patriots possession, with the game still at 3-0, saw fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe take his first ever NFL snaps. His first three plays were handoff, handoff, incompletion as he displayed an uncanny ability to mimic the Mac Jones-led offense up until that point. This was the time in the game where Patriots fans were just hoping to get through this one; a rookie fifth rounder on the road at Green Bay trying to protect a three point lead with most of the game still left to play was a recipe for disaster.

But as they would end up doing all season, the Patriots defense remained stout; after giving up a TD, they forced punts on the next two drives, and as the first half wound down, it looked like the Patriots would be heading into the locker room only down four points — a massive win no matter who was under center.

However, with just 17 seconds left in the second quarter, Aaron Rodgers did something he had only done three times before in his entire career.

On 3rd-and-9 from the Packers 32, with Matthew Judon closing in, Rodgers threw a high pass towards the right sideline, intended for rookie Dontayvion Wicks. It was a 10-yard out pattern, just past the line to gain, and Wicks ran it well. But he was covered by another rookie, fourth-rounder Jack Jones, who read the play perfectly and stepped into the throwing lane just as Wicks stumbled and fell as he broke out of the route. Jones caught the ball in stride with absolutely nothing between him and the end zone but 40 yards of not-so-frozen tundra. He ran untouched into the end zone, and all of a sudden it was 10-7 New England.

In a game in which the Patriots, led by a rookie that nobody expected to see the field at all in 2022, took the Packers all the way to overtime, this play was the spark that everyone needed. Jones’s first career interception was a 40 yard return for a touchdown that saw him anticipate Wicks’s cut, high point the ball, and score points for his team against one of the all-time great QBs who never, ever had his passes returned for touchdowns.

It was a solid read, a great play, and a much needed confidence boost for a team that really, really couldn’t rely on offense. The 2022 Patriots took the Packers all the way to overtime, and even better there were numerous points during the game where they could have won it. Every Patriots fan left that game feeling as good as you can feel on the heels of a loss, thinking that if they can do this with a rookie backup, then maybe when Mac Jones came back they could turn some heads.

Obviously, that didn’t quite happen. But of all the losses the Patriots took in 2022, this was one of the easiest to swallow, in no small part due to Jones’s pick. It was the time we realized that we may have something special in the rookie, and as the Chargers were enjoying an IRed J.C. Jackson, New England was uncovering a potential gem of a defensive back. Hopefully, Jack Jones will be making Top 20 lists for years to come, but for now I’m happy to welcome him to the dance at No. 11.

Check out the play here.

Full game highlights here.