Since Thanksgiving night, we’ve heard mention of several pivotal plays in the New England Patriots 33-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Many have pointed to the controversial call on Hunter Henry’s catch that was called an incompletion after further review.
We’ve seen rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr. slammed for roughing the punter penalty in the fourth quarter, and the Patriots secondary has taken some flack for getting toasted by Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins most of the time night.
Well, we can add a few more names to the list of the blamed. Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard didn’t pull any punches while assessing some of the Patriots’ most costly mistakes from the loss. In a third-quarter sequence he described as a “cluster f***,” Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Trent Brown, and even offensive play-caller Matt Patricia were called out for their part in sabotaging New England’s efforts.
After pointing to a great connection between Mac Jones and wide receiver Devante Parker, Bedard summarized the next few plays as followed:
“Then it was a cluster@$%& after that,” Bedard wrote. “On the very next play, the Patriots get the play and to the line, and no one knows what play they are running. Hunter Henry has his hands up. Kendrick Bourne doesn’t have a clue. Two receivers basically run into each other to the left and Jones wisely chucks it into the 5th row. This simply can’t happen in game like this in the red zone … or ever.”
Bedard wasn’t done. As I mentioned, he didn’t spare Patricia whom he cited for egregiously calling a run play out of the shotgun in a bunch formation.
“But Matt Patricia says, “Hold my beer,” Bedard wrote. “On the next play, not only does Patricia call a run out of shotgun (oy), he does so with the receivers condensed, leaving even more defenders near the line of scrimmage. On the play, basically everybody fails. Cole Strange pulls and moves no one. Hunter Henry gets driven back 3 yards, and Nelson Agholor misses his block. Two epic fails.”
As is the case with the other unfortunate plays for the Patriots on Thanksgiving night, this sequence isn’t the only reason New England came up short. It’s time for the team to begin to look ahead to the pivotal Thursday night battle with the AFC East rival and division-leading Buffalo Bills.
Did Mac Jones Turn the Corner on Thanksgiving?
After a string of mediocre to poor performances, Mac Jones played pretty well in losing to the Vikings. He didn’t turn the ball over and threw for a career-high 382 yards with two touchdowns. The Vikings’ secondary has been ripe for the pickings for most opponents this year (a league-worst 276.1 passing yards allowed per game), so we must temper our excitement for Jones’ performance.
However, a good game is just that, and every struggling player needs a performance they can build on when climbing out of their rut. Patriots Nation is hoping this was one of those games for Jones.
Is the Patriots’ Defense Good or Just OK?
Coming into the game against the Vikings, the Patriots defense had begun to get the respect a top unit in the NFL receives. After all, New England had held its last three opponents to a combined 23 points.
Unfortunately, they played the Jets with the Patriots-spooked Zach Wilson in two of those games, and a sinking Indianapolis Colts team set to fire Frank Reich in the other. With that fortunate string of contests, things might have been a little skewed. In a battle against one of the league’s best offenses in Minnesota, the Patriots’ secondary was seemingly exposed by an elite wide receiver in Jefferson with excellent complimentary parts in Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn, TJ Hockenson, and Dalvin Cook, an offensive line that gave Cousins all day to throw the ball and a quarterback that made almost all the right decisions with his throws.
Things won’t get much easier for New England in the next game against Josh Allen and Co.