It seemed like time beyond regulation was sooner or later.
However then rookie punt returner Marcus Jones despatched everybody house comfortable.
After virtually sixty minutes of putrid offensive play — or stellar defensive play relying in your perspective — the New England Patriots rookie shocked the New York Jets, and the NFL world, with an 83-yard punt return for a landing. The return broke a 3-3 tie, and gave the Patriots a 10-3 lead with simply 5 second remaining.
Maybe probably the most important side of the play? The wind. On a gusty and blustery afternoon at Gillette Stadium, the Jets had been compelled to punt into the wind on the sport’s greatest play. The punt was a line drive off the foot of Braden Mann, giving Jones an opportunity at an enormous return.
As you possibly can see from this picture, when Jones pulls within the punt, he had loads of room to work with, and he made the a lot of the alternative:
Jones picked up two important blocks on the play, first from reserve security Brenden Schooler (#41) after which from backup extensive receiver Raleigh Webb (#44), and the returner lower upfield behind these two blocks and into open discipline. From there he had simply the punter to beat, and with the sport on the road, Jones was to not be denied.
Landing, New England. Bedlam in Foxborough.
The NFL shared this unbelievable field-level view of the return:
However for nearly sixty minutes, it appeared like a landing — of any form — was an inconceivable ask on at the present time.
Within the 1994 comedy “PCU,” there’s a scene the place the character Gutter, portrayed by Jon Favreau, has a drug-fueled imaginative and prescient of his future, the place he’s testifying earlier than Congress in a affirmation listening to. Within the imaginative and prescient, Gutter testifies “I knew it was going to be unhealthy. I didn’t know it could be this unhealthy.”
It was exhausting not to consider that scene whereas watching Sunday’s recreation between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
We knew it was going to be a defensive battle nicely earlier than kickoff. In spite of everything, these are two of the elite go defenses within the league, with the power to strain the passer constantly, dealing with off with two younger quarterbacks who’ve crumpled within the face of strain this season.
Add in some blustery circumstances, and you’ve got the recipe for a tricky day for the offenses.
Someway it was worse.
The 2 AFC East rivals mixed for what was a near-historic show of offensive ineptitude. Within the first half, the 2 groups mixed for six factors, and 6 punts, as neither offense may get something occurring that facet of the soccer.
New England had an opportunity to take a 6-3 lead earlier than halftime, however Nick Folks’s 44-yard discipline aim acquired caught within the wind and careened off the crossbar, maintaining the rating tied at three.
The Patriots put collectively a good driver to open the second half, however as soon as extra the drive stalled, and Invoice Belichick despatched his kicker out to attempt one other discipline aim, this time from 43-yards out. The kick, despatched in the identical course as his earlier miss, was extensive to the left, and the rating remained tied.
Whereas the Patriots offense was struggling, their counterparts had been even worse. Quarterback Zach Wilson couldn’t get something going within the passing recreation, and he completed the afternoon having accomplished fewer passes (9) than Mann had punts (ten).
A giant motive for his struggles? A relentless go rush from the Patriots. New England acquired to Wilson for 4 sacks on the afternoon, with Matthew Judon accounting for 1.5 of these. Judon acquired to Wilson on the primary play of the fourth quarter, setting a brand new career-high with 13.5 sacks on the season.
And forcing one other Jets punt:
Within the second half, the Jets had seven offensive possessions. They might go three-and-out on the primary 5 of these and acquire simply three complete yards on their sixth offensive possession of the second half, because it was Deatrich Smart’s flip to get to Wilson for a third-down sack:
The sack got here after the Jets had managed to select up their first first down of the second half.
New York’s closing offensive possession of the sport? Properly, that ended with a punt.
One which Jones returned for the game-winning landing.
How pivotal was Jones’ return. On the micro stage, it precipitated the most important swing in win chance on a punt return within the Subsequent Gen Stats Period:
However take into account the macro stage. This recreation was virtually a playoff recreation, significantly for New England. In accordance with FiveThirtyEight, previous to kickoff, the Patriots had a 39% probability of creating the playoffs. These odds would bounce to 53% with a win over the Jets, whereas a loss to New York would see their possibilities on the playoffs drop to 18%.
Conversely, the Jets entered Week 11 with a 59% probability of qualifying for the postseason. Beat the Patriots, and people odds skyrocket to 83%, and their odds of profitable the division improve from 10%, to 18%.
With the loss, nevertheless, the Jets’ playoff odds dropped to 44%.
Greater than anything, the loss may spark off renewed debate over Wilson in New York. As a result of misplaced on this recreation is perhaps the efficiency from the Jets’ protection, which sacked Mac Jones six occasions and held the Patriots’ dashing assault to below 100 yards. While you put up these sorts of defensive numbers, maintain the opposing offense to simply three factors, drive them to punt seven occasions, and even get a fourth-down cease, you are inclined to win the soccer recreation.
However that’s not what occurred as we speak.
As a substitute, the Patriots earned their 14th-straight win over their division rivals, and put a dent of their playoff hopes.
And certain sparked one other debate concerning the quarterback place within the Huge Apple.