Here are the key takeaways from the Patriots win over the Jets. Mike Dussault
The Patriots got their first win of the 2023 season on Sunday, knocking off the New York Jets by a score of 15-10 to improve their record to 1-2 with a badly needed victory. Veteran tight end Pharoah Brown was one of the heroes of the game with an explosive 58-yard touchdown score, while Mac Jones and the rest of the offense did enough to put the Jets away with some timely throws and runs.
The Pats defense deserves a large chunk of the credit as they contained Zach Wilson and the Jets offense for the majority of the game, providing just enough field position and timely stops to allow their offense to pull away. The Jets offense finally put together a touchdown scoring drive in the fourth quarter, but the New England's defense was able to regroup and get the final stops necessary to preserve the win.
The final stat line for the defense: 171 yards allowed, just 2-of-14 conversions on third down and only 10 total points allowed in 60 minutes of work.
Here are the key takeaways from the Patriots' first win!
1. Pats Get First Lead of '23
After going two games without a lead, the Patriots finally got their first lead of the season on the Jets, primarily aided by an 18-yard third-down conversion to Mike Gesicki, a play that matched New England's longest against the Dolphins. The drive came to a stop when the Pats couldn't convert a 3rd-and-4 with Mac Jones targeting a deep shot to DeVante Parker, but Chad Ryland was true from 48 yards out to make it 3-0 in the first quarter.
Defensively the Patriots showed that stopping the run was a priority, stacking their early base defense with stout defenders like Keion White and Anfernee Jennings on the edges and second-year defensive lineman Sam Roberts seeing his first action of the season. Those players were subbed off for the pass rush group led by Matthew Judon and Josh Uche on third downs, as New England had success early on forcing the Jets into four-straight punts to start the game with just one first down picked up.
While the defense had an excellent start, the offense did enough to get some points on the scoreboard on their first possession but still had to fight through some mistakes including a third-down drop by Rhamondre Stevenson that forced their first punt, a holding call on Cole Strange, and a screen pass on 3rd-and-long that was almost picked off and returned for a touchdown.
Ryland missed his second attempt from 48 yards as the offense failed to put up points on a second-straight drive.
2. Big Play Pharoah
The Patriots have been looking for big plays from wherever they could get them but few would've anticipated it would be veteran third tight end Pharoah Brown notching the team's first explosive scoring play of the season.
Leading 3-0 and holding the Jets to -1 yards of total offense in the second quarter, Mac and the offense took over at their own 22-yard line and it initially looked like they might be punting for their second time when faced with a 3rd-and-5, but Mac found Pop Douglas on an out route for 15 yards for a new set of downs. It was an encouraging play for the rookie who was right back in the mix after seeing his usage decline last week after fumbling.
On the next play, a blown Jets coverage allowed Pharoah Brown to slip behind the coverage. Mac hit Brown in stride and the big tight end was able to outrun everyone, taking the ball to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown. The massive play, made as the weather was worsening, opened the lead to 10-0.
Added just after training camp concluded, Brown has brought a physical presence to the tight end room and has seen a growing amount of snaps through his first three games. His touchdown helped New England pad their lead and flash some unexpected quick-strike ability.
3. Ryland Wide Two Times
The Jets found a way to scrap together a 10-play, 33-yard scoring drive, getting on the board with a 52-yard field goal that cut the lead to 10-3, but leaving New England with enough time to answer their scoring drive before the half.
Like the Jets before them, the Patriots managed to move the ball a bit, with a nine-yard completion to Hunter Henry on 3rd-and-8 providing another needed conversion on a nicely thrown ball by Mac. Unfortunately, they'd only get close enough to attempt a 57-yard field goal attempt which was wide left by a significant margin.
It was Chad Ryland's second missed field goal of the first half, with high snaps from Joe Cardona on both likely factoring in. The weather wasn't ideal for kicking, but the operation wasn't conducive to the long-range attempts from Ryland.
The game stayed an uncertain 10-3 at halftime but Ryland got back on track with a 51-yard field goal on New England's opening possession of the third quarter to extend the lead to 13-3.
4 Jets Make It Interesting Late
With New England's defense controlling play for most of three quarters, the Jets finally came alive in the fourth quarter, starting with New York getting just their second third-down conversion of the game. That conversion helped spark an 84-yard touchdown drive, that benefitted from a pass interference penalty in the end zone by Myles Bryant that gave the Jets a 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line. The score closed New England's lead to just 13-10 with 5:24 left, setting up the opportunity for the Patriots offense to close the game out.
Kendrick Bourne picked up 18 yards on one catch on the ensuing drive to gain some valuable field position but the offense wasn't able to close the game out, putting the defense on the field needing to hold the three-point lead.
Matthew Judon would get the job done, with a third-down safety sack that added a final two points for New England and helped put another nail in the Jets coffin. But the Patriots defense would still need two more stops against the Jets as their offense failed to close the game out despite multiple chances.
5. Patriots are now 1-2
With the win the 2023 Patriots are on the board at 1-2 and have staved off some hard questions that would've been waiting if they had landed at 0-3. Once again, the Patriots defense was absolutely dominating against an overmatched quarterback and offense. The Jets picked up just one first down and one total yard of offense through their first five possessions as New England overwhelmed them out of the gate, a trend that continued through the game.
Offensively, it wasn't a re-defining performance but it was a solid one.
The Pats made some timely plays early on while Mac Jones helped convert three early third downs with good awareness and timing. Pharoah Brown's touchdown opened up some breathing room as the Pats offense settled in. The running game showed more effectiveness while cracking 100 yards for the first time this year, while the pass protection was solid with zero sacks allowed. These were two big points of emphasis coming into the game and two areas where the team showed progress even if they did only score 13 points.
Still, some sloppiness (four third-quarter penalties) and a slowdown in run-game effectiveness in the second half kept the door open for a Jets comeback longer than it should've been. New England's inability to close the game out on offense despite multiple chances was concerning as well.
Injuries to defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Daniel Ekuale loom large moving forward, as Godchaux is an especially important front-line player at nose tackle and Ekuale provides valuable rotational depth. Two injuries to one position group are always significant.
It wasn't an explosion of offensive productivity but no style points were needed this week, as the Patriots had to come away from New Jersey with a win and that's what they got. There will be no reprieve next week though, as they'll next travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in their third contest against a conference contender in four weeks.
DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer