New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

  • Last week, the Patriots spent most of the game looking for an explosive spark play from the offense. This week, they got it at just the right time.

    Tied 3-3, the Patriots got the ball off a Steelers punt with 3:08 to go in the first half. They picked up one first down before finding themselves faced with a 3rd & 3 at the Pittsburgh 44 yard line with 30 seconds to go in the half.

    That’s when the Patriots got their first big spark, on a play that felt like it turned the tide of the entire game. Mac Jones uncorked a deep ball to Nelson Agholor, who went up over Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon at about the 10-yard line, ripped the ball away, and celebrated into the end zone to put the Patriots up 10-3.

  • “We talk about making big plays. Obviously we want to make the routine plays, but anytime you get an opportunity on a 50/50 ball, we need to make those plays,” Agholor said of the play after the game. “It puts the energy on our side, gives us good momentum.”

    Agholor credited his highlight play, in part, to experience. “I’ll just say that I’ve been on both sides of those,” he explained. “I’ve played eight years, I’ve been on both sides of those – where I’ve gone up for it and I didn’t finish it. I think it’s about focus and just being present at the moment when the ball is in the air. Obviously we’re both aggressive but if you’re focusing – because it’s a contested catch. Even for the defender it’s contested. His job isn’t to catch it, his job is to defend it and my job is to catch it. So I have to have a little more focus than him. So that’s what it comes down to.”


  • Jones shared with reporters that it’s a play the Patriots had worked on in the past. “It’s kind of one of those plays where we’re moving the ball in our two minutes offense and I have good comfortability (sic) with that. We’ve worked on that play through the offseason,” he said. “50/50 balls – [Agholor] is one of those guys I put in the ‘throw it up to him’ category and he’s going to make the play. So if it’s one-on-one, I’ll give him the shot.”

    Head coach Bill Belichick was also complimentary of the play after the game. “Nelly did a great job going up there and taking the ball. Good job by Mac giving the receiver a chance to go get it, and Nelly came down with it. It was a huge play for us,” he said. Asked if the play was a representation of the growth Belichick had mentioned seeing in Agholor this summer, the coach replied, “He’s been good all year. I don’t think you want to judge guys on just one play. He’s been one of our most consistent guys all year.”

    Still, both Belichick and Agholor mentioned the chance for growth from that play. For Belichick, it’s about not being able to capitalize on a potential double score, given the Patriots got the ball back to start the second half.

    “We had a chance for a swing there at the half but we weren’t able to get the field goal in the third quarter,” Belichick said. The Patriots moved the ball 41 yards in 11 plays to start the third quarter, but were stalled on a 3rd & 8, leading to a missed 52-yard field goal from Nick Folk. “It was the right idea we just have to do a little better job there finishing the drive in the third quarter.”

    As for Agholor, he’s looking at the bigger picture. “I thought we did well, but we’ve got more plays to be made,” he said. “There’s something that if we watch, that we could have made – we’re only going to get better. So I hope that this game is a stepping stone towards where we’re headed. I don’t want  this to be ‘hey, this is our identity.’ I want it to be, ‘OK, we see some good stuff now lets get better from here.'”

    Agholor certainly set himself up with a strong floor to improve on this early in the season. He caught six passes in this game for 110 yards and the touchdown. It was the first 100-yard performance from a Patriots pass catcher in over a year – Jakobi Meyers was the last Patriot to cross the century mark in receiving yards, doing so in Week 15 of the 2020 season, when he had 111 receiving yards on seven catches against the Miami Dolphins.

    Further improvement will be key for the Patriots’ offense this week. They welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium next week for the home opener. Baltimore put up 38 points against the Dolphins in Week 2, and quarterback Lamar Jackson appears to be an early MVP candidate. The offense will need to do its part to keep up in that game.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 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 [email protected].

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