The Patriots had their first “Awwwwwww yeaaaaaahhhh!” moment of the year thanks to Sunday afternoon’s victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Or maybe the postgame, Matthew Slater-led locker room moment was more of an “Awwwwwwww meeeeehhhhhhhhhh!”
Either way, New England held on to the 15-10 victory and secure its first win of the season as Zach Wilson’s Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete despite a would-be game-winning effort by veteran receiver Randall Cobb to corral the deflection in the end zone.
It was universally promoted as a must-win game for Mac Jones and Co. and, damn it, they won. So give them the credit they deserve for getting the job done, surviving for at least another week early in what is playing out as a gut-wrenching season and see what next week holds.
Not everything is black and white in this world.
Actually, most things are up to evolving interpretation in a world where interpretation is a lost skill. And, well, life comes at you fast in the NFL.
Was the Patriots win over Robert Salah’s squad impressive?
Depends on how you look at it. Certainly the Patriots defense did a lot of good things as NY OC Nathaniel Hackett tried to manage life with Wilson instead of what drew him to the Jets, ol’ pal Aaron Rodgers. New England forced the home team to punt five straight times to open the game. Really, the numbers on the Matthew Judon-led defense were elite, holding New York to 1.7 yards per carry on the ground, a mere two first downs in 14 third down chances and essentially controlling the game other than a single 13-play touchdown drive that made things a little too interesting in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, well, there’s work to be done. But, finding tough sledding in the rain against Quinnen Williams and one of the NFL’s better all around defenses isn’t exactly something to be embarrassed about. Bill O’Brien schemed up blocking tight end Pharaoh Brown’s play-action, 58-yard touchdown play perfectly, to the point Jones knew he had the key play before it even unfolded. And Ezekiel Elliott gave a boost to the running game that churned out more than 150 yards on the ground against one of the toughest fronts in football.
Oh, and Jones and his peeps didn’t turn the ball over once, allowing them to play from in front, something that hadn’t happened previously this season.
Would it have been better if the defense hadn’t allowed Wilson to lead that 13-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter to bring anxiety to an otherwise controlled win? Obviously.
Would it have been better if Jones and the offense had been able to move the ball and run out the clock rather than give the ball back to Wilson multiple times in the waning minutes, ultimately allowing for the oh-so-close Hail Mary? Obviously.
But that’s not reality for the Patriots right now. Not for a team that has to fight and claw for everything it’s getting in both victory and defeats. Not even against a foe that it has now beaten 15 straight times.
Nope. When you are a mediocre team trying to find its way early in a season life is lived play to play. Series to series. Quarter to quarter. And game to game.
Sunday’s performance may not have been good enough to change the results of the first two losses over the first two weeks of the season. Might not be good enough next weekend in Dallas. Or on any other field moving forward.
But it was good enough this week. Against this opponent.
In this spot.
So how do we feel about New England’s somewhat ugly win of a division battle in a must-win situation Sunday afternoon in New York?
A hell of lot better than we would have felt with a loss.
And for the here and now in Patriots Nation, that’s all that really matters.
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