The Patriots won their first game of the 2023 season on Sunday, defeating the New York Jets 15-10 to improve to 1-2 with a much-needed victory. Pharoah Brown, the veteran tight end, was one of the game’s heroes, scoring an explosive 58-yard touchdown, while Mac Jones and the rest of the offense did enough to put the Jets away with timely passes and rushes.
The Pats defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping Zach Wilson and the Jets offense in check for much of the game, giving just enough field position and timely stops for their offense to pull away. The Jets offense eventually scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the New England defense was able to rebound and make the final stops to secure the victory.
The defense finished with 171 yards allowed, just 2-of-14 third-down conversions, and only 10 total points allowed in 60 minutes of action.
Here are the most important lessons from the Patriots’ first victory!
1. Pats Take Your First Lead of ’23
After spending two games without a lead, the Patriots eventually took the lead against the Jets, boosted mostly by an 18-yard third-down convert to Mike Gesicki, a play that equaled New England’s longest against the Dolphins. The drive came to a halt as the Pats were unable to convert a 3rd-and-4 with Mac Jones aiming a long shot to DeVante Parker, but Chad Ryland connected from 48 yards out to put the game up 3-0 in the first quarter.
The Patriots’ early base defense was stacked with sturdy players like Keion White and Anfernee Jennings on the edges, while second-year defensive tackle Sam Roberts saw his first action of the season. On third downs, those players were switched in for the pass rush group lead by Matthew Judon and Josh Uche, as New England had early success forcing the Jets into four consecutive punts to open the game with just one first down picked up.
While the defense had a strong start, the offense did enough to score on their first possession but had to overcome some miscues, including a third-down drop by Rhamondre Stevenson that forced their first punt, a holding call on Cole Strange, and a screen pass on third-and-long that was almost intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Ryland missed his second try from 48 yards as the offense failed to score for the second time in a row.
The Patriots have been seeking for big plays anywhere they can find them, but few expected veteran third tight end Pharoah Brown to come up with the team’s first explosive scoring play of the season.
Leading 3-0 and holding the Jets to -1 yards of total offense in the second quarter, Mac and the offense took over at their own 22-yard line. Faced with a 3rd-and-5, it appeared that they would punt for the second time, but Mac found Pop Douglas on an out route for 15 yards for a new set of downs. It was an encouraging play for the youngster, who was immediately back in the mix after his use dropped last week due to a fumble.
A broken Jets coverage enabled Pharoah Brown to get underneath the coverage on the following play. Mac hit Brown in stride, and the huge tight end outraced everyone to the end zone for a 58-yard score. The tremendous play, made as the weather deteriorated, increased the margin to 10-0.
Brown, who was signed shortly after training camp ended, has offered a muscular presence to the tight end group and has seen an increase in snaps during his first three games. His score helped New England extend their advantage while also demonstrating some surprise quick-strike skill.
3. Ryland Wide Twice
The Jets managed to put together a 10-play, 33-yard scoring drive, scoring with a 52-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10-3, but giving New England with enough time to respond before the half.
The Patriots, like the Jets before them, moved the ball a little, with a nine-yard connection to Hunter Henry on 3rd-and-8 delivering another crucial convert on a wonderfully placed ball by Mac. Unfortunately, they’d only come near enough to try a 57-yard field goal attempt that was far wide left.
It was Chad Ryland’s second missed field goal in the first half, with Joe Cardona’s high snaps likely playing a role in both. The weather wasn’t perfect for kicking, but the operation didn’t lend itself to Ryland’s long-range efforts.
The score remained 10-3 at halftime, but Ryland put the game back on track with a 51-yard field goal on New England’s first drive of the third quarter, extending the advantage to 13-3.
4. Lately, four jets have made things interesting.
After New England’s defense dominated play for the first three quarters, the Jets finally came alive in the fourth quarter, beginning with New York’s second third-down convert of the game. That conversion aided an 84-yard touchdown drive that was aided by a pass interference call in the end zone by Myles Bryant, which gave the Jets a first-and-goal from the one-yard line. With 5:24 remaining, the touchdown cut New England’s advantage to 13-10, allowing the Patriots offense to seal the victory.
On the subsequent drive, Kendrick Bourne gained 18 yards on one grab to earn important field position, but the offense was unable to finish the game out, leaving the defense on the field having to protect a three-point advantage.
Matthew Judon would finish the job, with a third-down safety sack that scored two points for New England and sealed seal the Jets’ fate. However, the Patriots defense would still need two more stops against the Jets, as their offense failed to finish out the game despite repeated opportunities.
The 2023 Patriots are now 1-2 and have avoided some difficult problems that would have arisen if they had finished 0-3. The Patriots defense was utterly dominant once again against an outmatched quarterback and offense. The Jets had just one first down and one total yard of offense in their first five drives as New England dominated them right away, a pattern that lasted throughout the game.
Offensively, it wasn’t a game-changing effort, but it was solid.
Early on, the Pats produced some timely plays, and Mac Jones converted three early third downs with superb awareness and timing. Pharoah Brown’s touchdown gave the Pats offense some breathing space as they settled in. The rushing game was more productive, breaking 100 yards for the first time this season, and the pass protection was strong, with no sacks allowed. These were two major topics of attention heading into the game, and both areas where the squad showed development, albeit only scoring 13 points.