For 59 minutes and 45 seconds of game clock, the New York Jets and New England Patriots spent turns rolling around in the mud. It was a fourth down with the game appearing to be headed to overtime when the first touchdown was scored.
Patriot rookie cornerback Marcus Jones returned a punt for a touchdown with just 5 seconds left on the clock, sealing a 10-3 win for the game and more importantly, mercifully ending the game for everyone in attendance.
Both defenses played out of their minds for the entirety of the game and a special teams explosion ended up being the difference between these two teams. On a cold, windy day in Foxborough, defense and special teams reigned supreme. A loud touchdown on a rather quiet day for everyone that played on offense. The AFC East still appears safe in the hands of the Dolphins and Bills right now.
The Jets finished the game with a paltry 44 net passing yards and averaged 2.6 yards per rushing attempt. Mac Jones was able to complete 85% of his passes for 9.1 yards an attempt, but the Patriots only managed 13 first downs for the entire game and went 4/15 on third down. Neither of these teams deserved the win, but someone had to come through just for the sake of competition — that person was Marcus Jones.
If the playoffs had started prior to this game being played, the entire AFC East would have made the playoffs. However, it’s clear that even though these teams all have winning records, the Patriots and Jets are not quite playing where the Dolphins and Bills are — even with the Jets beating the Bills a few weeks ago.
Both of these teams have serious issues on offense. The Jets have maybe the worst quarterback situation in the league, which is obviously disheartening after selecting Zach Wilson with the second pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The Jets have been able to win in spite of Wilson, but that becomes increasingly difficult to do when the offense isn’t giving much production. The defense did their job and held the Patriots’ offense to three points, Wilson was not able to hold up his end of the deal. 44 net passing yards just isn’t going to cut in the NFL, especially when the running game is shut down as well. At some point, Wilson either needs to make plays or the Jets need to think about a quarterback switch. There’s no reason to tank your first playoff team in a decade over a quarterback that is just totally lost right now.
The Patriots situation isn’t much better, but they at least had stretches where they looked like a legitimate offense. They just don’t have much juice overall. The offensive line got bullied today and they just don’t have many explosive playmakers within this offense. This group of offensive players requires extreme precision to be able to move the ball and that’s a difficult thing to find with an offense being run by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. Both of these teams are far away from the high-flying offenses of their division rivals.
This game doesn’t mean the future is bleak for either the Patriots or the Jets, but they clearly need to ask themselves some tough questions moving forward. For the Patriots: how did we score three points despite Jones completing 85% of his passes for 9.1 yards per attempt? For the Jets: how long should the leash for Wilson be?
Until these teams score, they’re clearly in the backseat while the Dolphins and Bills play with Super Bowl aspirations this year.