New England Patriots

  • The New England Patriots fell to the Minnesota Vikings 33-26 on Thanksgiving night in Minneapolis. Here’s who we graded “UP” or “DOWN” based on their performance in the game…

    UP: QB Mac Jones

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Easily the best game of the season for Jones – and the offense in general. Things stalled out in the second half after the officials disallowed a potential Hunter Henry touchdown. But it’s hard to have much of a problem with 28-of-39 for 382 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Jones was decisive and accurate, spread the ball around, and got great protection for the most part, so it added up to the most explosive performance of 2022 for the whole group.

  • DOWN: RB Pierre Strong Jr.

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr (54) walks onto the field during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr (54) walks onto the field during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Strong committed arguably the Patriots’ most costly penalty of the season so far when he ran into Vikings punter Ryan Wright on fourth-and-3, giving the Vikings a first down on a crucial fourth-quarter drive. Two plays later, Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for 36 yards. The play after that, Adam Thielen caught a touchdown. It was an absolutely brutal sequence for the Patriots’ defense and special teams units, who went from getting the stop they needed to giving up the game-winning score in a handful of plays. Strong may have a hard time getting back on the field after that mistake.

  • UP: Pass Protection

    Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) rushes in during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) rushes in during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    Jones wasn’t sacked until late in the fourth quarter. It was a shockingly strong performance up front for the Patriots’ offensive line overall, who gave Jones time to throw, which of course led to actual plays being made. Like most of the team, they didn’t close particularly well. But it’s only fair to give the O-line a thumbs up here, because like the offense’s struggles began with them, their success did, too.

  • DOWN: Kickoff Coverage

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Kene Nwangwu #26 of the Minnesota Vikings returns a kick for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: Kene Nwangwu #26 of the Minnesota Vikings returns a kick for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Yes, the officials missed what appeared to be a holding penalty on Kene Nwangwu’s kickoff return touchdown. But just because that happened, doesn’t mean they HAD to give up a touchdown. When you give up six points in the kicking game, more than just one thing went wrong. That was a stunning breakdown by a Patriots team that was coming off two straight games with big-time special teams play.

  • UP: WR DeVante Parker

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: DeVante Parker #1 of the New England Patriots catches a pass over Duke Shelley #20 of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: DeVante Parker #1 of the New England Patriots catches a pass over Duke Shelley #20 of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Parker’s 80 receiving yards led the team. He didn’t make the most catches, but his plays in the passing game were the most dynamic. When he shows up, the offense looks like a completely different group. They needed to make more explosive plays, so this game was a good time for Parker to make that happen.

  • DOWN: S Kyle Dugger

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: T.J. Hockenson #87 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a pass against Kyle Dugger #23 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: T.J. Hockenson #87 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a pass against Kyle Dugger #23 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Despite having a very good season overall, Dugger is still a bit of an adventure in 1-on-1 man coverage on the outside. He bit on the play-action fake then fell to the turf as he tried to react to T.J. Hockenson, who beat Dugger easily for an early touchdown. Not the best moment for the third-year safety.

  • UP: TE Hunter Henry

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Henry made three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown, and it should’ve been four catches with two scores. The officials took a long look at his would-be second score, and determined that they had enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. It didn’t look that way for most viewers, but they thought Henry’s late bobble was enough. The questionable overturned call took away from what was a fine night of production for Henry, who continues to heat up down the stretch.

  • DOWN: CB Myles Bryant

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Myles Bryant #27 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 24: Myles Bryant #27 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    Bryant gifted the Vikings a fresh set of downs with a personal foul on second-and-15, which led to a game-tying field goal. Unforced errors played a big role in the Pats’ unraveling in this game, and Bryant’s penalty was pretty much a microcosm of the night.

  • Next Patriots Ups & Downs will come next Thursday night, when the Patriots play the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football at Gillette Stadium.

    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 @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.