Well, that was rough. Even three days later, it’s easier to pretend this game never happened. Better to block it out of our collective memories than suffer its pain forever. Patriots fans aren’t used to losing, especially like this. On the bright side, it’s not likely to happen again. It was very obvious that the lack of practice hurt the offense. It also doesn’t help that the O-line has not had the same starters for any of the five games so far.
On the other side of the ball, though, was a unit that didn’t miss a beat. Despite facing the same lack of practice as the offense, the defense help up extremely well. While the bend, don’t break philosophy is maddening to fans, it held Denver to just six field goals. Even though Denver drove into the redzone several times, they always came away with three instead of seven. No one was more responsible for that level of success than Jonathan Jones, who wins this week’s Game Ball honors.
Jones has always been a dominant player in the Patriots secondary, but this week he reached a new level. Denver tested Jones early and often. Which, after their first offensive possession, seemed like a mistake. As the game wore on (and on, and on, and on) it seemed reckless. And by the end, it was downright stupid. On that first Broncos drive, Denver quarterback Drew Lock targeted Jones twice, each time resulting in an incompletion. His excellent coverage on the receiver that it forced Lock to throw the ball to inconvenient spots.
Throughout the game, Lock continued to throw at Jones. It seemed like most of the passes Jones defended were in the end zone. He had a great strip of Albert Okwuegbunam (yeah, I copy/pasted that name) to prevent a touchdown. While pursuing Jerry Jeudy as Jeudy ran out of bounds Jones tried to punch the ball out. He even made 4 tackles, some of those coming against the Denver running backs as he played down towards the line of scrimmage.
Jones’s best play of the game happened late in the fourth quarter, on first and ten from the Broncos 25 yard line. Lock was hit as he threw a bomb to former Utah Utes receiver Tim Patrick. The ball smacked against Patrick’s hand. Jones made a lightning-fast adjustment to get under the ball and pull in the interception. It gave the Patriots another shot at winning the game. And although the offense failed to capitalize, Jones was the spark that kept the Patriots in the game.
I expect to see more games like this from Jones throughout this season. As the struggling offense continues to improve, so does the dominant defense that Jones spearheaded last Sunday. As SuperCam Newton said, “The sky may be falling the next couple of days. I’ll bring my raincoat & my umbrella to get the job done.” In this case, that umbrella is Jonathan Jones.
–Travis Baltes is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @TravisBaltes