EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was a long two weeks for the New England Patriots, who were left with a “nasty” taste in their mouths following a 34-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans over the bye week.
But the New York Jets served as some wintergreen mouthwash Sunday when the Patriots beat them 27-13 at MetLife Stadium.
Two players who helped propel the Patriots to victory lacked their usual production in the Week 10 loss to the Titans. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore allowed six catches on eight targets for 98 yards with a touchdown against Tennessee, according to Pro Football Focus. Defensive end Trey Flowers was held pressure-less in that game.
Gilmore was the Patriots’ best defender Week 12 against the Jets, allowing just one 17-yard catch on five targets with an interception and pass breakup.
Flowers wasn’t far behind with a sack, three quarterback hits and three pressures. Flowers brought pressure on Gilmore’s interception.
“It felt good,” Gilmore said of the pick. “It felt like it had been a minute. I’ve had a lot of pass breakups, but I was able to get my hands on the ball and make a play.”
Gilmore wasn’t making much of the fact that it was a return to form for him personally.
“Yeah, it was a bounce-back game for all of us,” Gilmore said. “What happened in the past, even when I play good, I try to forget it and prepare for the next week. I was able to do that again this week and we happened to come out with a win.”
Gilmore was called for one of the Patriots’ 11 penalties when he was flagged for holding in the third quarter. He brushed it off, saying Shawn Hochuli’s crew always calls games tight.
“Just kind of have to not touch the receiver sometimes,” Gilmore said. “It happens. I’m going to still play aggressive, and that’s what our coaches teach us.”
Flowers has been delivering pressure for the Patriots all season, but his sack numbers are down. He’s up to just 3.5 on the year following Sunday’s sack after registering 6.5 in 2017 and seven in 2016. That doesn’t seem to bother the free agent to be, who didn’t have much of a reaction to getting back on the board with a sack.
“It is what it is,” Flowers said. “You can attest that to the rest of the 10 guys on the field just doing their job and things like that. Numbers aren’t too big on my book, but any time I can do something to help my team win, that’s the biggest thing.”
He also credited his teammates with the amount of pressure he was generating Sunday.
“Everybody doing their job,” Flowers said. “Me just kind of wanting to help my team win, help get there, get pressure on him and just an overall type of team production.”
Much of the Patriots’ defensive success moving forward depends on Gilmore and Flowers as their two best, most consistent players. When they’re on their game, expect to see more performances like Sunday’s from the Patriots’ defense.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images