It was ugly at times, but the New England Patriots accomplished their mission Monday night and left MetLife Stadium with a 30-27 win over the New York Jets.
The Patriots appeared headed for a disastrous loss and trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter before mounting an impressive comeback.
Let’s take a look at four instant overreactions from Monday night’s Week 9 game.
1. Jakobi Meyers is the Patriots’ best offensive player
Meyers continues to impress with more opportunity. He set career highs with 12 receptions for 169 yards on 14 targets. His 33-yard reception in the first quarter helped set up New England’s first touchdown of the night.
It was the first 100-yard game of his career. He came into Monday night with just 125 receiving yards on the season.
Meyers has played a larger role in the offense over the last two games in the absence of injured wideouts Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry. He’s tallied 18 receptions for 227 yards on 24 targets in the last two weeks combined. Not only is Meyers consistently getting open, he’s also picking up plenty of yards after the catch.
It’s not a stretch to say Meyers is the best offensive player on the Patriots right now. Damien Harris also has played well in recent weeks, and rookie guard Michael Onwenu is having a fantastic season as well. But it’s hard not to be pretty impressed with what Meyers has given the Patriots at a position of great weakness.
2. Patriots pass defense needs considerable improvement
It’s never a good sign when a 35-year-old Joe Flacco looks like a top-tier quarterback, but that’s how well he played Monday night. The former Super Bowl MVP completed 18 of 25 pass attempts for 262 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson has played well this season, but he had a rough night. Flacco threw for nearly 100 yards and two touchdowns when targeting Jackson. Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty also struggled and gave up a touchdown.
The Jets came into Monday night averaging a league-low 156 passing yards per game, and their four passing touchdowns through eight games were the second-fewest of any team. This is one of the league’s worst passing attacks, and yet the Patriots still struggled mightily to stop it at times.
The absence of star cornerback and reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner Stephon Gilmore is huge and no doubt had an effect on New England’s defense Monday night, but there’s still no excuse to play so poorly against a below-average quarterback and an offense without any elite playmakers.
The Patriots have to improve their pass defense ASAP if they want any hope of making the playoffs.
3. Cam Newton showed a lot of improvement
Newton completed his first 11 pass attempts and looked much more comfortable as a passer than he has in recent weeks. He ended up completing 27 of 35 pass attempts for 274 yards. The former league MVP has now gone back-to-back games without throwing an interception for the first time all season. Newton also scored two rushing touchdowns against the Jets, giving him eight on the season (tied for the third-most in the league).
Sure, the Jets rank 27th in passing yards allowed per game and 32nd in completion percentage, but Newton’s accuracy throwing the football was still a positive sign for the Patriots. It’s hard to win in the NFL, and outscoring a team by 13 points in the fourth quarter to end a four-game losing streak is going to instill some much-needed confidence in Newton and the team overall. Give Newton credit: He stepped up when the game was on the line with under two minutes left in regulation.
4. The Jets will absolutely get the No. 1 pick
The Jets, despite putting up a good fight against the Patriots, are still the worst team in the league. They are the only winless club at 0-9, and six of those losses have come by 10 or more points. The Jets blew a 10-point lead at home to an average-at-best Patriots team while running four plays for three yards in the fourth quarter. That’s it — three yards in an entire quarter! New York’s time of possession in the fourth quarter was an embarrassing 1:24.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are also a very bad team and have a 1-7 record. But they are not as awful as the Jets. New York is 0-9 for the first time in franchise history and has a very real chance to finish 0-16.