By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
That was most certainly not what the Patriots were looking for in their big AFC Championship Game rematch. The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, outplayed them for nearly all 60 minutes in a 31-20 win that was even more lopsided than the score sounds.
Here are some quick-hit thoughts on what happened today in Jacksonville:
— Patriots defense shredded, with no pressure whatsoever. Blake Bortles played one of the best games of his career, and he did it with great protection up front. No semblance of a pass rush for the Patriots, who lost Trey Flowers to a concussion in the first quarter. But ultimately, no one stepped up to make life harder on Bortles, who routinely had a clean pocket with enough time to find his receivers. The coverage wasn’t much better, as Keelan Cole and the Jaguars receivers had little issue getting open. But the Patriots’ problems on defense definitely started up front.
— Offensive execution comes up short. Third down is where the loss of Julian Edelman hurts the Patriots the most, and you saw it on Sunday. The most egregious misstep was by Cordarrelle Patterson, who stumbled and fell as he caught a screen pass when it looked like he had more than enough space to get a first down. That drive ended in a field goal when the Patriots had momentum and a chance to put further pressure on the Jaguars. The Pats were 4-for-12 on third downs overall, while the Jaguars were 10-for-14.
— Gronkowski silenced, no Ramsey necessary. Brady targeted Rob Gronkowski just four times, with Gronk catching just two for 15 yards. The Jaguars exposed a problem on the Patriots offense right now: if Brady can’t go to Gronkowski, who can he consistently trust to make big plays? James White had a good day when he touched the ball, but the Pats are absolutely going to need Gronk to produce for the next two weeks at a minimum. We’ll see how the offense looks with Edelman back, but it’s clear that the Patriots’ receivers need to be better against top competition.
— Jaguars learn from their mistakes in AFC Championship Game. Offensively, the Jaguars stayed aggressive even as the Patriots started to mount a comeback and things tightened up more in the second half. After winning a fourth-quarter challenge to force a punt, Bortles kept throwing, and he found Dede Westbrook for a 61-yard touchdown that effectively iced the game. It was clear at that point that the Pats weren’t going to have enough time to make enough things happen against the Jags defense. The coach and quarterback battle was a decisive win for the Jags at both spots.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.