When it was all said and done, the Patriots were able to run away their game against the Jets – their first win of the season. Yet did didn’t feel that would be the case at times throughout the game.
The real pivotal moment came early in the third quarter. Still down just 10 points, the Jets got the ball to start the second half. They picked up a pair of first downs, before the wheels fell off the wagon.
Facing a 2nd & 28 after a penalty, the Jets called what appeared to be a swing play to one of their running backs. It was read well by Matt Judon, who stayed with the back in the flat even as Wilson stared his option down. Then quickly, seemingly realizing the play wasn’t there, the 2021 2nd-overall pick turned and hummed the ball up the sideline. Devin McCourty was there waiting under it, without a Jets receiver nearby.
That set up what was the longest interception return of the day for the Patriots, as McCourty picked up 22 yards all the way back to the Jets 35. After the game, J.C. Jackson – who can be seen motioning for McCourty to follow his block after the pick – talked about the mindset on that play.
“Like coach says, we get turnovers, we become the offense,” explained Jackson, who had two interceptions of his own. “Make the blocks, set up your teammates – that’s what we did.”
One of Bill Belichick’s go-to phrases is ‘complementary football,’ where the three different phases of the team work in unison. That was exactly the case here, as the Patriots jumped at the opportunity off the turnover to break the game open.
After a nine-yard completion to Nelson Agholor, the Patriots elected to put the ball in the hands of Damien Harris. Harris had been in the headlines all week after his late-game fumble against the Dolphins, which turned what happened next into somewhat of a redemption moment.
Harris ran through two would-be tacklers as he hit the hole at the line of scrimmage, then quickly stepped through a third as he hit the second level. He added a fourth broken tackle well into the secondary, before plunging into a crowd just shy of the end zone.
Not to be denied, Harris kept his legs churning long enough for help to arrive. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor got their first, followed by David Andrews and Jakobi Meyers who joined in pushing the pile. They were followed by Mac Jones, then Shaq Mason gave the group one final heave over the goal line.
“Any time you touch the ball, you want to get it in the box,” Harris said after the game when asked about his motivation on the run. “It was a great play, everybody was blocking their butts off, got a lot of help from a lot of guys. Apparently I got some help from Mac Jones too,” noted Harris, who revealed he hadn’t seen the replay, and probably wouldn’t “until we watch the film.”
“It was definitely a statement for the offense. I know for him [Harris] as well, coming off of last week, I know he was motivated to get back out there, and to have a run like that and finish it by getting in the end zone was great for him,” fellow running back James White told the media after the game. “Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff out there we can correct, but that play was huge.”
“I guess Roll Tide, huh?” Devin McCourty added, when specifically asked about the Harris and Jones link on the touchdown. Both players played their college ball at Alabama, and were teammates for a few years.
The Jets managed just a garbage-time field goal after that point, despite having the ball for 16 of the remaining 26 minutes. It was complementary football closing the door, just how they drew it up.
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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.