The New England Patriots defeat the Arizona Cardinals 27-13 for Week 14's Monday Night Football matchup on Dec 13, 2022.
Once again, a predictably average Mac-Jones offense was bailed out by the Patriots defense, who fortunately faced Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray.
The Cardinals No.1 was carted off the field with a knee injury on just the third play from scrimmage, leaving McCoy at the helm. With an almost-certain ACL tear, Murray's absence will likely make Arizona one of the worst teams in the league next year, while Mac Jones will continue to lead the Pats to mediocrity. Mark my words...
And speaking of mediocrity, this game delivered just that.
Offenses were dominated by check downs and ground games in an attempt to avoid these sack-heavy d-lines. As a result, neither QB threw for a score - the only end zone appearances came from red-zone rushes and a defensive scoop and score.
Deandre Hopkins is a top 10 receiver, no doubt, but I've always been confused by the lazy way he carries the ball, and yesterday he paid the ultimate price...
The 6-points picked up by Raekwon McMillan turned the tide for New England, retaking a lead they had lost in the second quarter. In fact, the Pats put up a total of 20 points unanswered as McCoy failed to find the scoreboard for the entire second half.
You may be thinking - how did Mac Jones get bailed out if he led such a dominant comeback? The answer is - thanks to plays like this...
When I say the defense did all the heavy lifting, I mean it. And let's take this opportunity to shout out Marcus Jones, who has been a bright spot on both sides of the ball for New England this season.
The only other source of reliability for either offense was the run game.
The Pats usual bulldozer from the backfield, Rhamondre Stevenson, was taken to the locker room with an ankle injury, which left rookie running backs Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. to pick up the pieces.
Both Harris and Strong Jr made their first-ever trips to the end zone, logging 96 rushing yards between them.
Kliff Kingsbury also turned to the ground with McCoy in the huddle - as a result, James Conner accounted for a large chunk of their yardage on the night.
Conner had 85 rushing yards and 29 receiving, including an angry red zone run to log the Cardinals' only touchdown. Expect a lot more of this in the coming weeks...
There were a few surprisingly nice plays in the passing game as some of the receivers showed off their talents.
Hunter Henry featured as the No.1 deep-shot target for Mac Jones, logging 70 yards on just three receptions - while Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne both hauled in 5 targets on the night.
Robby Anderson had his biggest game since the move to Arizona, with 4 receptions for 50 yards, including a clean one-handed grab.
Although, to his disappointment, Deandre Hopkins had to show up his new teammate and deliver one of the nastiest out-of-bounds catches we've seen. Give this guy a few more yards and this is a top 5 touchdown catch this season.
So, with their superstar quarterback Kyler Murray likely out of action for the foreseeable future, you can be sure that all bets are off in Arizona. Kliff Kingsbury now has a very tough job on his hands...
Meanwhile, the Pats better hope they get more lucky breaks if they want to continue their run to the post-season. In fairness, they've seen their equal share of bad luck, with Damien Harris, Jakobi Meyers, Rhamondre Stevenson and DeVante Parker all making their way to the injury list in the last few weeks. But in all honesty, I don't see them making it far with or without the missing talent... My money's on the Pats getting smoked by the Bills in the Wild Card round.
And that wraps up Week 14 of the 2022 NFL season. Join me on Friday as I recap the Seahawks-49ers game, where San Fran will run riot on the Hawks defense. Expect McCaffrey to make a statement for Week 15's Thursday Night Football... We're in the end game now.