By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
FOXBORO, Mass. -- With Antonio Brown out of the picture and Julian Edelman injured, Josh Gordon had to step up as the Patriots' clear No. 1 receiver. And he had to do it while battling multiple in-game injuries.
Gordon finished with six catches for 83 yards in the Patriots' 30-14 win over the Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, and he did it under difficult circumstances. The catches themselves made a bigger impact than the overall stats would suggest.
His first big catch came on a 28-yard grab down the left sideline. With cornerback Daryl Roberts mugging him, Gordon leaped and found a way to snag the deep throw from Tom Brady while keeping his feet in bounds. The catch set up first-and-goal and the Patriots scored a touchdown three plays later to go up 30-7.
The play came on a third-and-22, so Brady and Gordon needed to pick up just about every inch in that moment.
"We had good field position and Josh made a huge play. Made a bunch all day," Brady said after the game. "He went wire-to-wire; he’s going to be pretty tired tomorrow. Proud of him and what he accomplished today. That was a huge play in the game."
Gordon made another nice grab when he reeled in a 22-yard catch deep down the middle. But what made the plays so encouraging is that he made them after suffering multiple injuries.
He first had to leave the game for what looked like a back or hip injury after falling hard to the turf. Then he had to get his left ring and pinky taped together after he appeared to injure a finger making a block. Gordon showed in the game that he has the physical and mental toughness to match his athletic gifts on the field.
"I don’t think anybody likes to get banged up or have to come out of the game, but it’s just the reality of it. I think the more important part is just like how many times can you get knocked down and come back?" Gordon said after the game. "That’s my mindset, that’s my attitude, no matter if it doesn’t take me out all the way where I can’t physically do it, I’m going to be back out there within a couple plays. If medically I’m approved to do so, I’m going to go back out no matter what it is that’s hurt me."
Teammate Matthew Slater had a hell of a nickname for Gordon's effort.
"We call that 'war daddy deluxe'," said Slater. "He was out there taking hits, dislocating - I don't know what he did to his finger, but it I'm assuming it wasn't good. He showed a lot of toughness today."
Gordon has had to battle a lot more than just a hurt finger over his NFL career. His personal demons have kept him from realizing his full potential for several years, but he's off to a fine start in 2019.
If Gordon can stay out of trouble off the field, it's clear that he can still be a dynamic weapon on it, and a tough one at that.
"Physically, I think I’ve always just kind of been a fighter in some type of way – was going to have to fight back, was going to be the underdog," said Gordon. "And that’s my mindset when I step out there on the field and play each week."
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 protected].