The Patriots raced out to a 17-0 lead over the Jets and never looked back, breaking 30 points for the first time this season, posting over 500 yards of offense and running away with a 54-13 win that brings New England's season record to 3-4.
Quarterback Mac Jones finished 24-of-36 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, the first 300-yard game of his career, as the Patriots offense rode a balanced and effective effort that was too much for the one-win Jets to keep pace with. It was the kind of offensive output that New England fans have been waiting a while for, as the Pats had their most prolific points scored since posting 55 against the Steelers in 2013.
Defensively, the Patriots made the stops they had to as they played the majority of the game against backup Mike White after Zach Wilson left due to a knee injury and picked off two of his passes in the second half, while also grabbing a late-game fumble.
With the first home win of the season finally under their belt, the Patriots are back in the win column as they prepare for a two-game stretch away from Foxborough that will see them face the Chargers and Panthers.
Here are the key takeaways from the win over the Jets!
Smith sparks fast start
It seemed like a concerted effort right from the get-go that Josh McDaniels wanted to get Jonnu Smith going in this game. Smith helped spark a fast start with his 28-yard screen pass, which was the third-straight play on the opening drive that Smith touched the ball.
The Patriots would dip into the bag of tricks to finish off the first drive, with Kendrick Bourne throwing a touchdown to Nelson Agholor.
The strong start would continue with a defensive three-and-out, capped off by a nicely disguised blitz by slot corner Myles Bryant that picked up the sack. On the offense's next possession, Damien Harris would take over, picking up 51 yards on the drive and capping it off with his own one-yard touchdown carry. That included a 32-yard scamper as Harris continues to deliver explosive runs. He'd deliver his sixth 100-yard rushing performance of his career in the contest.
This is the second week in a row that the Pats got off to a good start and it really set the tone for the rest of the game. Smith would sustain a shoulder injury in the second quarter that would end his day, finishing with two catches for 52 yards.
Key penalties, third downs ding defense
The Patriots got the kind of start they wanted defensively, forcing a three-and-out on the first possession, but they started to backslide in the second quarter, unable to get off the field on third down. Kyle Dugger had a rough two-play stretch, allowing a third-down conversion catch and then taking a pass interference penalty that set the Jets up on the Patriots' goal line. That resulted in the Jets' first score of the game but it came at a steep price for New York as Zach Wilson was lost for the game with a knee injury on the pass interference penalty play.
The defense would bounce back as Jets backup quarterback Mike White entered the game, getting a fourth-down stop just before halftime that helped set up another scoring drive, but they'd allow a seven-play, 77-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter, with a Jalen Mills pass interference penalty canceling out a third-down stop.
Overall, third down was a weak point for the Pats defense, even after White entered the game at quarterback. They allowed conversions on seven-of-13 third downs, while also allowing touchdowns both times the Jets entered the red zone. On the positive end, the defense stopped both fourth downs they faced.
Despite the lopsided scoreboard, there are definitely things for the defense to continue to improve upon.
Offense goes off
With a new-look offensive line, placing Ted Karras at left guard and Michael Onwenu at right tackle, the Patriots were able to run all over the Jets early on, with Damien Harris wracking up 14 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. After an offseason spent hoping the ground game could be an offensive crutch, this was the first game of the season where the Patriots running backs had their way with a defense.
That helped open up the passing game, as the Patriots easily scored a season-high in points. Once again, Mac Jones spread the ball around to all his different targets and Josh McDaniels reached into his bag of tricks for another receiver-thrown touchdown pass. Brandon Bolden had one of the most productive games of his career, while J.J. Taylor bounced back in his limited return to action, scoring the first two touchdowns of his career.
The offense would score points on their first six possessions of the game and they finished a perfect six-for-six in the red zone as well.
Seven games into the 2021 season and it looks like the Patriots offense is starting to figure themselves out. It was still sporadic in spots and a beleaguered opponent had plenty to do with it, but after nearly two-and-a-half months, this was a welcome performance and hopefully one to spark them on to even bigger and better.
Pats play clean
Overall, this was one of the Patriots cleanest football games of the season as they managed to not turn the ball over at all for just the second time this season. Kyle Dugger and J.C. Jackson's interceptions were enough to win the turnover battle for New England, something that must continue for the Pats to maximize their effectiveness. They'd also tack on a late-game fumble recovery for the decisive 3-0 edge in turnover differential.
The offensive line also played clean, allowing just one sack on Mac Jones as the rookie quarterback generally had enough time in the pocket to deliver passes. The Patriots should stick with this starting five, at least until Trent Brown returns from IR.
The only spot that could've been cleaner was the penalty department, as the defense, in particular, hurt themselves with some ill-timed breakdowns that directly led to points for the Jets.
The Patriots are 3-4
The Patriots needed a win to get on track and while it came against the one-win Jets, at this point in the season the Pats will take it.
But beating the Jets is one thing, and now the Patriots will travel west to face the Chargers on Halloween. LA is a promising team, sitting at 4-2 as they come off their bye and surely eager to make up for last year's domination by New England. They represent a tough conference road test that will be a far better gauge of where the Patriots are at as they approach the midpoint of the season.
If the Pats can pull off a win over the Chargers for the second year in a row, it will even their season record and send a message that New England will be in the thick of the playoff hunt.