For the past few weeks the Patriots have shown flashes of their true talent level, but were still searching for a complete effort. They got it on Sunday, in a 54-13 win over the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.
That all-around performance included a season-high 54 points and 554 yards on offense, as well as three turnovers forced by the defense.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 3-4 on the season. That puts them a game and a half back of the Buffalo Bills (who are on a bye this week) in the AFC East.
Early on their first drive, the Patriots featured a heavy dose of Jonnu Smith and got the ball to the edge of the red zone. Josh McDaniels then dug into his bag of tricks, with Kendrick Bourne double-passing to Nelson Agholor for a 25-yard touchdown.
After a Myles Bryant third down sack forced the Jets to punt, the Patriots moved the ball 53 yards on just seven plays and in 3:25. The highlight of the drive was a 32-yard run by Damien Harris, who also punched the ball in from one yard out to make it a 14-0 game.
Communication errors bit the Patriots at times on their next defensive drive, they were able to force the Jets into a 48-yard field goal attempt, which missed wide right. Jalen Mills made the key play of the sequence, blowing up a screen for a two yard loss on second down.
To open the second quarter, the Patriots responded with a field goal attempt of their own after moving the ball 41 yards on eight plays. Nick Folk converted from 35 yards, extending the Patriots lead to 17-0.
Facing another third and long, Zach Wilson hit tight end Ryan Griffin on an impressive throw to pick up the first down. On the next play he took a deep shot to the end zone, which fell incomplete but drew a pass interference call on Kyle Dugger. However, Wilson was hurt on the play – getting hit just after the throw by Matt Judon.
Mike White came into the game at quarterback, and despite a false start backing them up from the one yard line, White found Corey Davis in the back corner of the end zone on third down. That made it a 17-7 game just over 20 minutes in.
The Patriots responded with a 12-play, 73-yard march that featured passing calls on nine of the 12 snaps. It was capped by a third down screen pass to Brandon Bolden, who found the corner and scored his first touchdown of the year.
On his first full drive, White led the Jets into field goal range again. Inside the 30, the Jets faced a 4th & 1, which the Patriots stopped. That gave Mac Jones a chance to run the two-minute drill. After picking up a pair of third down conversions on throws to Brandon Bolden, he found Hunter Henry in the back of the end zone to put the Patriots up 31-7 at the half.
Coming out of the half, the Jets showed some signs of life. New York threw the ball four of six plays to get into the red zone, then used a 19-yard end around to Elijah Moore to get into the end zone. A missed two-point conversion left the score at 31-13 Patriots. The Patriots responded with a 50-yard field goal from Folk, going back up 34-13.
White made his first mistake of the game on the ensuing drive, when he overthrew Griffin deep down the field. Kyle Dugger was in the right spot at the right time, capitalizing on the miscue for his second career interception, and second in as many weeks.
That Patriots drive ended with a punt – their first of the day – but they’d soon get another chance. J.C. Jackson picked off his third pass of the season next time out, and after a 22-yard catch-and-run pass to Henry, Harris punched the ball in from three yards out. That score gave New England a 41-13 lead, and secured Harris’ first ever multi-touchdown game.
Don’t think the Patriots were done yet on offense. Next time out, Jones hit Kendrick Bourne up the sideline for a 46 yard gain. Bourne was ruled down at the one yard line, and J.J. Taylor did the honors – his first career NFL touchdown. After that, the Patriots were up 47-13.
Brian Hoyer replaced Mac Jones after that score, and led a touchdown drive of his own. That included a picture-perfect back shoulder throw to N’Keal Harry, and the drive was finished with J.J. Taylor’s second touchdown run of the game, and the Patriots eclipsed the 50-point mark for the first time since September 2015.
Jones finished the game 24-of-36 with two touchdowns, and logged his first 300-yard performance in the NFL (307). Bolden was the primary beneficiary, with six catches for 79 yards and a score of his own. Bourne had his second big game in a row, with four catches for 68 yards. On the ground, Damien Harris had 106 yards and two scores – his sixth career 100-plus yard game and first multi-touchdown game in the NFL.
Defensively, Kyle Dugger led the team with nine tackles, plus his interception. J.C. Jackson had a pick as well, and Josh Uche recovered a fumble forced by Myles Bryant. Bryant and Daniel Ekuale recorded sacks.
Next up for the Patriots is the first of two straight road games – they’ll head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. That game kicks off at 4:05 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 1 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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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.