New England Patriots

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) returns an interception for a touchdown as Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) defends in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a bit of a theme in this week’s Ups & Downs: mostly thumbs up for the Patriots defense, mostly down for the offense.

Mac Jones had his second straight sluggish effort under center, and the protection wasn’t much better, adding up to a game filled with stagnant drives and turnovers for the Pats offense. They were timely, scoring a clutch touchdown in the second half.

But this game was more about the defense than anything else, headlined by a pick-six for J.C. Jackson. The Patriots were all over Sam Darnold up front, too, often crushing the pocket and rushing him into some bad decisions and errant throws. They also took away big plays down the field, turning Darnold into “Captain Checkdown.” So they get most of the “ups” from this one.

It wasn’t all “down” for the Patriots offense against the Panthers, though. Despite the continued problems with penalties and turnovers, it was still a relatively complete and balanced victory for the Pats. There was one particular offensive player who deserves props, so we’ll start there.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.