By Sterling Pingree
- Besides the obvious parallels to the AFC championship game between these two teams 8 months ago, this game actually reminded me more of the 2015 AFC title game the Patriots played at Denver. The “Sacksonville” pass rush wasn’t to the level that Von Miller and Demarcus Ware were on that day, but the difficult road conditions, solid home crowd and an incredibly athletic defense made things incredibly uncomfortable for the Patriots offense. It wasn’t constant pressure that led to the Patriots offense continuously stalling, it was that Jacksonville was able to limit Brady’s options down the field, allowing their incredibly fast linebackers to blow up New England’s short passing game.
- Myles Jack said that this game was like the Super Bowl to him and the Jags defense played like it. The game’s intensity seemed to reside within the home team almost the entire game, with Jacksonville’s front seven dictating the game’s pace. With as much as was made about Jalen Ramsey’s comments, it was Myles Jack and Dante Fowler Jr, that had the biggest impact.
- There was a time in the late 3rd quarter where the Patriots got the ball back on the Van Noy interception where it felt like the momentum had shifted completely. Brady & Co. marched into the red zone as the 3rd quarter ended. After the tv time out and the change of fields, the Patriots essentially went 3 and out. It’s interesting to think if the Patriots had one or two more plays before the 4th started, if perhaps things might have gone differently down the stretch. The breaks of the game, but that sequence struck me as inopportune for New England.
- Blake Bortles was really good. In the AFC championship game, I thought too much was made of how well Bortles played the first three quarters but on Sunday, Bortles was great. He made all the throws he needed to, but it was his receivers that let him down. Sefarian-Jenkins drop led to an interception and Chark Jr’s fumble were their only turnovers on the day. Making it more impressive was that Bortles did it without Leonard Fournette.
- The Patriots offense felt out of rhythm. I was surprised by the amount of Sony Michel that we saw in his NFL debut, including the Georgia product touching the ball on all five of his first career snaps. Rex Burkhead’s usage was interesting to follow coming off of concussion protocol, Burkhead played the first drive and the last drive and zero in between.
- I’m not sure how the Cordarrelle Patterson experience is going. The reverses and quick outs that we thought he’d be a game breaker on haven’t developed through two weeks. Not to mention, an overlooked play from today was Patterson losing his feet on a 3rd and short where he almost certainly would have picked up the first down. This is a storyline to watch as the weeks go by, it’ll be interesting to see if Patterson can find a niche in Josh McDaniels’ offense.
- This was the hottest game in the NFL since 2003 when Green Bay traveled to Arizona. Temps on the field reached 99 degrees but felt 10 degrees hotter. Brady has never played well in sweltering heat, as evidence by his struggles in Miami, particularly early in the season.
- After facing elite level pass rushes and less than ideal conditions through two weeks, the Patriots could use a long week of preparation, a game in a dome and a defense that’s given up 78 points through two games. Which they’ll get next Sunday night as New England travels to Ford Field in Detroit, to take on old friend Matt Patricia’s 0-2 Lions.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveshowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.