Despite Looking Terribly Sloppy, Yesterday’s Win Was Big For The Pats

Taylor McCloud — Pats Militia

Yesterday’s 22-17 victory over the New York Jets was sloppy. And at some points, it was more than sloppy. You could have called it flat-out ugly, but you know what? A win is a win, and contrary to the belief of many, I think this team needed a couple of games like this.

Would I have preferred a Pats’ blowout? Of course. There is nothing that brings me more joy than watching TB12 & co. hang 40+ on a team. Though, despite their abysmal record, the Jets always step it up when facing the Patriots. In fact, if you look back to their first matchup in 2013, and to every game since, neither team has won by more than seven points. So yeah, even though I would have loved one, I didn’t expect a blowout.

However, I certainly did not expect a Jets’ victory, and for the first three and-a-half quarters, it looked like that was a real possibility.

The Jets started with a quick field goal, and followed that with a Brandon Marshall touchdown, making the score 10-0. But I wasn’t that worried about the score. I know ten points is nothing to fret over. Something that I was fretting over, though, was Tom Brady’s startling inaccuracy.

I’ve been spoiled for my entire life. I was born in 1998 and do not remember another Patriots’ quarterback besides Tom Brady. As a result, I’ve been blessed to watch a guy walk out there and throw precision pass after precision pass after precision pass and you know the drill. But yesterday was a little different. Tom Brady missed a ton of throws. Whether it was a deep ball to Gronk, or a quick out to another receiver, Brady was not his usual self.

And I think that’s a direct result of his knee injury.

All week long, I heard about Brady’s knee. After getting drilled against Seattle and having to move constantly against San Francisco, it was clear he wasn’t 100%. He missed a couple days of practice and was listed as questionable all week. Did I think he’d miss a snap of this game? Absolutely not. But did I think his performance could take a hit because of it? Of course. And that’s exactly what happened.

Like I said, he was missing a lot of throws, and I’m no doctor, but it sure looked like he was throwing with his arm and arm only. If you’ve never thrown a football, that probably sounds pretty stupid. It would make sense he was using all arm, but for an NFL quarterback, that’s not the case. Those guys use a ton of leg power with every throw they make. All the time, Brady steps hard into his throws and fires a laser right where it needs to be. However, on a bum right knee, it seemed as if Brady couldn’t get anything behind his passes, and he missed a lot of throws because of it.

But because he’s Tom Brady, he showed up when he needed to. In the last ten minutes of yesterday’s game, he let everyone know exactly why he’s the greatest to ever do it. Down 17-13, Brady lead the team into field goal range, and Stephen Gostkowski brought the score to 17-16. Then, after a big defensive stop, Brady got the ball back, made a number of throws, manufactured a drive which culminated in a Malcolm Mitchell touchdown, his second of the game, and put the Patriots ahead 22-17, the game’s final score.

Although, I cannot give all of the credit to Tom Brady. This was a complete team effort.

As I just said, Malcolm Mitchell hauled in two touchdowns.

The first, a wonky, broken play, knotted the game at 10 in the second quarter.

And the second put the Pats ahead for good.

I don’t want to get too excited, but Malcolm Mitchell has me feeling pretty good lately. He caught his first career touchdown pass last year, and tacked on two more yesterday. After looking good early in training camp, and then suffering a gruesome elbow injury, Mitchell seems to be blossoming into exactly what the Pats have needed, and have looked for, for years. He’s a long wide receiver with great hands who isn’t afraid to go over the middle, a nice surprise when compared to literally every other receiver the Patriots have drafted since Bill Belichick took over in 2000.

In addition to Mitchell’s huge role in the win, the defense turned in a solid performance of their own.

Yes, I know their ability to get off the field on third down is subpar. Trust me, I know. Throughout every game, I write stuff down on Post-It notes about what’s happening, and I think I have written “No 3rd down D” just about a million times, but when the Patriots needed it most, that defense pulled through.

On the drive preceding the first Brady-Mitchell touchdown, Malcolm Butler made a HUGE play, both forcing, and recovering a fumble by Jalen Marshall.

Alan Branch, allowed to play because of his suspension appeal, blocked a FGA which would have put the Jets up 13-10.

And Chris Long, a guy I’ve thrown some jabs at lately, put the game on ice with this strip of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The magnitude of those plays in the context of the game is obvious, but for the defense to come up big when the offense couldn’t really get it going could be crucial for the rest of the season. Yes, I understand their struggles, but I think that performance can, and will serve as a confidence booster for this defensive unit. And yes, they’ve played very poorly as of late, but they stepped up yesterday and also, they still rank third in points allowed per game in the NFL, a stat that isn’t too shabby.

And despite looking pretty bad, yesterday’s game wasn’t too shabby either.

Super Bowl champions need these kind of games. They need to be tested. Every game isn’t going to be some offensive show. There will be games that are tough. There will be games that are low scoring and difficult. I know the Jets are not a great football team, but that was a divisional game, New York played well, and everyone, from Tom Brady down responded positively.

Go Pats.

P.S. 

I know I’ve concentrated on solely positives from this game, but there are two negatives I want to touch on quickly. 

First, Stephen Gostkowski missed another field goal. It was a 39-yarder, and MetLife isn’t a great place to kick, but that’s a chip shot for SG3 any other season. The fact that he’s declining in ability is becoming a much harder pill to swallow. 

And second, Rob Gronkowski left the game with a back injury. I’ve seen a couple of reports saying he’s not going to miss time because of it, but I don’t know if I don’t want him to. Whatever this is, I want Gronk to be 100% healthy for the postseason. I get that he’ll get roasted for not being tough enough, and questions will arise about his toughness, but his health is so much more important. He’s the most dangerous player in the NFL. Having him on the sideline in January because he hurt himself in some game in November is the exact opposite of what’s best for the team. 

 

 

 

 

 

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