The Patriots lost a 33-26 heartbreaker to the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night and fell to 6-5 on the season, and though there’s still plenty of football ahead, it gets tougher and tougher to cement yourself in the playoff picture as the season goes on. It’s games like Thursday night that they’ll look back on and kick themselves over.
However, the Patriots should be thankful that they found something out this Thanksgiving: Mac Jones is, in fact, New England’s quarterback of the future.
Amidst unsourced rumors, a high ankle sprain, a bogus quarterback controversy, and a well-below-average offensive coaching staff surrounding him – Mac Jones has ignored the noise all of 2022 and was coming off of a three-game win streak heading into Thursday.
Although the team lost – the second-year signal-caller, who is now fully healthy, took complete control of the New England offense and played arguably his best game as a Patriot.
He completed 28 of 39 attempts for 382 yards and two touchdowns, and made his best throw of 2022:
Jones answered the bell just about every time they needed him to – and if it weren’t for a few boneheaded plays on special teams, the Patriots could be riding a four-game win streak. It was my number one takeaway from the game:
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.
After the game, Jones said that, “we all played with effort and toughness. That’s all you can ask for. [I] wanna be able to score more points and win the game. So that’s all that I care about, that’s all that we care about is winning and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Jones also noted that, “there’s no time to drag and feel sorry for ourselves.” He’s right, as the AFC East-leading Bills will be Foxboro next Thursday for a prime-time matchup from Gillette Stadium.
There’s still a lot of work to be done before New England can become a Super Bowl contender – but on Thursday, they found out that Mac Jones will be the one under center when they do.
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