Despite a tightly contested 33-26 loss to the Vikings on Thanksgiving night, the Patriots finally have something to look forward to on the offensive side of the ball for the first time in 2022.
Don’t get me wrong- moral victories stink, but New England finally found a groove on offense, and that was encouraging to see. Here’s a look at the scoring drives from Thursday night:
Patriots 0 – Vikings 7 | 8 plays, 80 yards – Justin Jefferson 2-yard TD
Patriots 7 – Vikings 7 | 5 plays, 75 yards – Nelson Agholor 34-yard TD
Patriots 10 – Vikings 7 | 4 plays, 1 yard – Nick Folk 34-yard FG
Patriots 10 – Vikings 10 | 14 plays, 72 yards – Greg Joseph 30-yard FG
Patriots 13 – Vikings 10 | 5 plays, 23 yards – Nick Folk 46-yard FG
Patriots 13 – Vikings 16 | 9 plays, 75 yards – TJ Hockenson 1-yard TD
Patriots 16 – Vikings 16 | 9 plays, 70 yards – Nick Folk 23-yard FG
Patriots 23 – Vikings 16 | 8 plays, 75 yards – Hunter Henry 37-yard TD
Patriots 23 – Vikings 23 | Kene Nwangwu 97-yard KO return TD
Patriots 26 – Vikings 23 | 9 plays, 69 yards – Nick Folk 25-yard FG
Patriots 26 – Vikings 26 | 14 plays, 65 yards – Greg Joseph 36-yard FG
Patriots 26 – Vikings 33 | 6 plays, 71 yards – Adam Thielen 15-yard TD
Here are my five takeaways from New England’s Thanksgiving night loss to the Vikings:
5. Justin Jefferson is the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Minnesota’s third-year wide receiver continues to prove week in and week out that he’s the best wide receiver in football.
The idea has always been that Bill Belichick will take away a team’s greatest strength and force you to beat them with the rest. That was the farthest thing from the truth on Thursday night. Jefferson led the Vikings with 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. The Patriots had zero answers for him, and were simply the next victim on his way to winning the Offensive Player of the Year trophy.
4. The Patriots’ offensive struggles are not Mac Jones’ fault.
Mac Jones was sensational tonight. He completed 28 of 39 attempts for 382 yards and two touchdowns, and also made his best throw of 2022:
Not only did Jones play well, but he finally showed that he can get through the Patriots’ shortcomings on offense. He ran the offense soundly and was awfully close to leading New England to victory with his arm.
3. Defense struggled versus a formidable offensive opponent.
Of course, once New England’s offense finally figured it out, the defense put up a dud. I already mentioned Jefferson’s monster game, but they also allowed Adam Thielen to catch 9 balls for 61 yards and a TD and T.J. Hockenson to catch 5 calls for 43 yards and TD.
On top of this, they also only sacked Kirk Cousins once despite the Vikings missing their best offensive lineman in Christian Darrisaw. There were, of course, some good things – but overall the defense needs to be better – especially when the offense has success.
2. Patriots may have unleashed primetime Kirk Cousins.
I am a card-carrying Kirk Cousins hater, but I can admit that he had a day for himself. Thanks to a complete lack of pass rush from the Patriots, the Vikings QB was able to stand upright and torch New England’s secondary to the tune of 299 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a completion percentage of 81% and a passer rating of 116.1.
Cousins normally only plays well in the 1pm window – but he put that idea to rest tonight.
1. New England’s special teams lost this game.
With the offense still trying to gel and the defense allowing 33 points, the Patriots had plenty of opportunities to win this game.
However, there were 5+ plays on special teams that completely turned this contest on its head:
- 97-yard Vikings kick return touchdown from Kene Nwangwu.
- Pierre Strong runs into the kicker – Vikings score TD on the same drive.
- Michael Palardy’s 27-yard punt
- Marcus Jones fields a punt inside the five-yard line.
The Patriots have always been known for their solid special teams – heck they won last week’s game against the Jets thanks to a punt return touchdown.
On Thursday, however, the special teams is what lost it for them.
New England is now 6-5 and although they’re now only one game over .500, they still have a viable chance to make the postseason.
They also only have one week to prepare for their next opponent, as they welcome the Bills to Foxboro next Thursday for a primetime matchup. We’ll have you covered with all the latest news and updates from
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