The NFL’s latest, maybe greatest dynasty has crumbled, perhaps finally for good. Tom Brady is in Tampa after his free agent exit in March. Some key players opted out of the coronavirus-affected season. Others are sidelined by injuries. A seventh Super Bowl triumph does not seem to be in the immediate future. The run of 11 straight AFC East titles likely will come to an end.
But the New England Patriots, at least, didn’t lose to the New York Jets.
They narrowly avoided having their woes in their trying 2020 season amplified with that indignity. The Patriots came from behind and kept the Jets winless with a 30-27 victory at MetLife Stadium in a “Monday Night Football” installment that was surprisingly captivating, given the circumstances of the two teams.
Kicker Nick Folk’s 51-yard field goal as time expired won it for the Patriots, who ended their losing streak at four games and improved to 3-5 at the halfway point of their season.
“It’s been a long last couple of games and the last month,” quarterback Cam Newton told ESPN afterward. “But yeah, this can kick-start right where we want to be. We just showed resiliency today. I’m just so happy for those guys in that locker room that keep just battling back. It wasn’t pretty. But it was a win.”
The Patriots trailed 27-17 in the fourth quarter after fill-in quarterback Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes for the Jets. But the Patriots pulled even on a field goal by Folk with a little more than six minutes remaining and a touchdown by Newton on a quarterback sneak with just less than two minutes left.
After a futile possession by the Jets, the Patriots got the ball back at their 22-yard line with 47 seconds to play. They moved into position for Folk’s winning kick with a 20-yard completion from Newton to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, taking their final timeout with three seconds to go.
“We just won,” Newton said. “That’s it. We just won. I’m just happy for that. We’ve been practicing our tails off. Just to see hard work pay off, it’s just a great feeling. I haven’t felt this in a long time.”
The Jets remained the NFL’s only winless team as they dropped to 0-9. They were without quarterback Sam Darnold, who was on the inactive list because of a shoulder injury. They also lost standout left tackle Mekhi Becton, who left the game in the first half with a chest injury.
Yet they nearly pulled it off Monday. Flacco, the former Super Bowl MVP for the Baltimore Ravens, threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Breshad Perriman and another to wideout Jamison Crowder.
“Flacco is still a great deep-ball thrower,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “He threw the ball right on the money down the field several times.”
Flacco threw for 262 yards on 18-for-25 passing. Perriman had five catches for 101 yards. Kicker Sergio Castillo added a pair of field goals.
“It definitely is disappointing and guys’ emotions are running high,” Flacco said in a postgame video news conference. “To get the ball in the two-minute situation and kind of do nothing with it, that was disappointing. So there’s obviously a lot of emotions right now in the locker room. Guys are fighting really, really hard to go out there and get wins. We want to do it for each other. And we just haven’t been able to do it.”
With the Jets in front, conspiracy theorists spent much of the night postulating that Belichick was thinking big picture and doing what he could to keep the Jets from securing the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft to take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But that speculation was put to rest when the Patriots made enough plays in crunch time to keep the Jets winless and thus on course to choose Lawrence.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson, victimized by the Jets for much of the game, contributed a key fourth-quarter interception of a deep pass by Flacco. That led to Newton’s tying touchdown.
Newton, in addition to his two rushing touchdowns, connected on 27 of 35 passes for 274 yards. Meyers had a dozen catches for 169 yards. Tailback Rex Burkhead had a one-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Folk had three field goals in all.
“It was a good win,” Belichick said in a video news conference. “I thought we made the plays we needed to make at the end of the game. There are certainly things we can do better. But we played good complementary football at the end of the game.”
The season began in promising fashion for Newton, the former league MVP for the Carolina Panthers signed to a relatively modest one-year contact in the summer to replace Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner. The Patriots won two of their first three games and had a competitive near-miss loss at Seattle.
But Newton missed a game and practice time after testing positive for the coronavirus, and things unraveled for the Patriots after that. Newton lost a fumble eight days earlier in a loss at Buffalo, with the Patriots driving toward a potential tying field goal or winning touchdown. There was speculation about Newton being benched in favor of young quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Belichick spoke publicly about the Patriots’ salary cap approach in recent years leaving them strapped for cap space this season, leading to him being asked as a follow-up whether he’d been making excuses. He said that he wasn’t.
The AFC East race appears to be a two-team duel between the Bills and the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots’ season is far from fixed. But their dignity remained intact Monday and they at least could dream about a turnaround in the season’s second half.
“We’ve just got to keep building,” Newton said. “As a team, we’ve got to play better complementary football offensively, defensively and special teams. We’ve just got to match last week’s intensity in practice and just get things going here moving forward.”
The Patriots made it a one-score game with a 29-yard field goal by kicker Nick Folk but could have had more. They couldn’t capitalize on the second chance given to them when the Jets were penalized for having too many men on the field when the Patriots lined up for an earlier field goal attempt. The Patriots held the ball for 17 plays and took nearly 9½ minutes off the clock but got only three points. (Jets 27, Patriots 20 with 6:04 left in the 4th quarter)
Another Flacco-to-Perriman touchdown restores Jets lead to 10 points
The Patriots simply cannot stop Joe Flacco and the Jets. Joe Flacco? The Jets? Yes, Joe Flacco and the Jets. Flacco’s third touchdown pass of the night came on a 15-yard toss to wide-open wideout Breshad Perriman as Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson stumbled and fell on his backpedal.
The Jets are halfway to getting into the win column for the season and adding the ultimate indignity to the woes of the Patriots. They got two touchdown passes by fill-in quarterback Joe Flacco and lead the Patriots, 20-10, at halftime on “Monday Night Football” at MetLife Stadium.
Of course, the “You play to win the game!” mantra once espoused so famously by Herman Edwards when he coached the Jets wouldn’t do much to help the franchise land the No. 1 overall choice in the NFL draft next spring to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. So be careful what you wish for, Jets fans.
The Jets (0-8) are ahead even with quarterback Sam Darnold on the inactive list with a shoulder injury and standout left tackle Mekhi Becton leaving the game with a chest injury. Flacco, the former Super Bowl MVP for the Baltimore Ravens, threw touchdown passes of 50 yards to wide receiver Breshad Perriman and 20 yards to wideout Jamison Crowder. Flacco completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards. Kicker Sergio Castillo provided field goals of 35 and 50 yards.
The Patriots are trying to avoid a fifth straight loss and a 2-6 record in the season after Tom Brady’s free agent exit. Cam Newton had a five-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper and completed 13 of 14 first-half passes for 120 yards. Yet that translated into only 10 points. The Patriots lost a fumble by tailback James White on a fourth-and-one try from the New York 39-yard line in the second quarter.
If you’re into conspiracy theories, maybe Coach Bill Belichick is thinking big picture and doing what he can to keep Lawrence away from the despised Jets. (Jets 20, Patriots 10 at halftime)
The Patriots cut their deficit in half with a 45-yard field goal by kicker Nick Folk. They benefited from a roughing-the-passer call on Jets safety Ashtyn Davis. Newton also had a 15-yard completion to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers on a third-and-six play. (Jets 13, Patriots 10 with 1:03 left in the 2nd quarter)
The Jets converted the turnover by the Patriots into a 50-yard field goal by kicker Sergio Castillo. Joe Flacco had a 23-yard completion to tight end Ryan Griffin along the way. (Jets 13, Patriots 7 with 4:33 left in the 2nd quarter)
The Patriots left their offense on the field for a fourth-and-one try from the New York 39-yard line. But rather than leaving the ball in the hands of Cam Newton, the Patriots tried a handoff to tailback James White. The result was not good.
The Jets moved back in front on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Flacco moved up and to his right in the pocket and delivered an on-target throw to Perriman, who beat Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson.
Coach Adam Gase isn’t in the mood for risk-taking even with the Jets winless on the season. He opted to punt instead of taking a fourth-and-three chance from the New England 41-yard line. The Jets did manage to down the punt at the 7-yard line. But things got worse for the Jets soon thereafter when rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton headed to the locker room with the team’s medical staff. The Jets called Becton questionable to return to the game because of a chest injury. (Patriots 7, Jets 3 with 22 seconds left in the 1st quarter)
Cam Newton’s rushing touchdown puts Patriots in front
It was the first opening-quarter touchdown of the season for the New England offense. It helps, as always, to be facing the Jets. Kicker Nick Folk converted the extra point when the ball doinked in off an upright. (Patriots 7, Jets 3 with 3:34 left in the 1st quarter)
The Jets, trying to finally get into the win column and add to the woes of the Patriots, have the early lead at MetLife Stadium on a 35-yard field goal by kicker Sergio Castillo. Joe Flacco, starting at quarterback with Sam Darnold on the Jets’ inactive list because of a shoulder injury, led a nice 12-play opening drive. Tailback Frank Gore had a tough third-and-one run for a first down. Flacco converted on third and five with a completion to wide receiver Breshad Perriman. But on another third and five from the 17-yard line, Perriman could not hold on to the ball on Flacco’s pass into the end zone, setting up the kick. (Jets 3, Patriots 0 with 8:33 left in the 1st quarter)