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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