In yet another déjà vu type of game, the Patriots started shaky, came back to tie and take the lead and then once again almost blew it in the end. Yet, the important note here is that they won. In keeping pace with the conference leading Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, the Patriots found a way to sneak by the Jaguars 23-16 at EverBank Field.
At this time of year teams already know who they are and have a good read on what they will become, if anything. The Patriots rely heavily on their offense, while their defense is a patch work of players, strategies and philosophies that leave the viewer guessing more than the opposing team.
That trend continued today.
The Jaguars began the game strong, In fact, so strong that for the first time all year they scored a touchdown on their opening drive. In honor of the season of giving, it seemed only right that the Patriot’s defense would act as Santa Clause and provide the Jaguars with such a gracious gift.
Jacksonville’s offense and defense played aggressive, scoring the game’s first 10 points and forcing 2 interceptions in the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter they had already racked up 202 total yard, which stands as a franchise record.
The Patriot's defense struggled early with defensive cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard and Aquib Talib sidelined with injuries. Safety Devin McCourty took over his original role at cornerback and Patrick Chung paired with Steve Gregory for much of the time at safety. When that lineup struggled, as it had early in the year, Talib stepped in, injured hip and all and the Patriots were able to slow the Jaguars.
Nearing the end of the second quarter, the Patriot’s offensive wheels began to turn. On their third drive of the second quarter, Brady led the offense on a 10 play, 66-yard march and found Danny Woodhead for a touchdown. Woodhead’s spectacular catch tied the game.
Two of the major issues for New England this season have been stopping the opposing team at the end of the game and finding a way to convert a crucial first down. Both situations arose again. An aggressive Jaguar's defense sacked Brady on 3rd and 7 with less than 5 minutes to play, forcing New England to punt. Taking over on their 38-yard line, the Jaguars drove to the Patriots 12, but a hard rush by New England’s defense forced Henne to lob the ball into the endzone.
Patrick Chung sealed New England’s win with his 2nd interception of the day.
Their quest for a top two seed continues....