FOXBORO, Mass. — Someone get Josh Gordon a truckload of ice and a long massage. He deserves it after what he went through Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Gordon was battered and bruised during the New England Patriots’ 30-14 victory over the New York Jets, twice leaving the field with injuries which required medical attention. The veteran wide receivers manage to return from both ailments, playing through a back/hip injury and what appeared to be a dislocated finger to lead all players with 83 receiving yards on six receptions.
The Patriots have a term for a performance like that, according to special teams captain Matthew Slater.
“We call that War Daddy Deluxe,” Slater said after the game. “He was out there taking hits, dislocating — I don’t know what he did to his finger, but I’m assuming it wasn’t good. He showed a lot of toughness today.”
Gordon’s initial injury came on a long incompletion late in the first half. The big wideout drew a defensive pass interference call on the play but also slammed hard on the Gillette turf, forcing him to hobble into the sideline medical tent.
He was back in the game to begin the third quarter, but his left hand caught on the collar of cornerback Nate Hairston less than five minutes later. Doubled over in pain, Gordon made his way to the Patriots bench, where a small group of trainers and team doctors went to work.
“He’s tough,” fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett said. “He’s a warrior for him to come back in the game, because he knew we needed him. He’s a warrior.”
Before long, Gordon was trotting back out to the huddle, strips of white tape connecting his pinky and ring finger. He caught a 3-yard pass from Tom Brady on the ensuing Patriots possession, then submitted an early entry for Catch of the Year two plays later.
With New England facing a third-and-22, Gordon ran an out-and-up, elevated over cornerback Darryl Roberts and somehow got both feet down in the field of play, holding the ball in his non-mangled hand as Roberts shoved him out of bounds.
The 28-yard play moved the Patriots to the Jets’ 4-yard line. Rex Burkhead scored three plays later to put New England ahead 30-0.
“We had good field position, and Josh made a huge play,” Brady said. “He made a bunch all day. He went wire-to-wire; he?s going to be pretty tired tomorrow. I’m proud of him and what he accomplished today. That was a huge play in the game.”
Gordon added another highlight-reel grab on the opening play of the fourth quarter, out-jumping safety Marcus Maye to pull down a 22-yard seed from Brady.
“I think the mindset going into every game as a wide receiver is to attack the ball ferociously,” Gordon said. “You can?t come down with all of them, but the ones that you?ve got a good chance of grabbing, you’d better try to grab it as best you can.”
Oddly enough, Gordon seemed to find his groove after he’d been banged up a bit. He caught just one of his first five targets — continuing a trend from last week, when he caught two of five passes in a blowout win over the Miami Dolphins — but hauled in five of his final six.
“You know, some weeks are more painful than others,” Gordon said when asked about his pain tolerance. “Obviously, it?s not always that bad, but it?s part of the game. I don?t think anybody likes to get banged up or have to come out of the game, but it?s just the reality of it. I think the more important part is just how many times can you get knocked down and come back?
“That?s my mindset. That?s my attitude. If it doesn?t take me out all the way where I can?t physically do it, I?m going to be back out there within a couple plays. If medically, I?m approved to do so, I?m going to go back out, no matter what it is that?s hurt me.”
Gordon wasn’t the only Patriots receiver who dealt with an injury Sunday. A chest/rib issue knocked Julian Edelman out of the game late in the first half, though X-rays on the area reportedly came back negative.
If Edelman misses time, Gordon, who had his indefinite NFL suspension lifted late in the preseason, will become the Patriots’ No. 1 wideout. He ranks third among New England pass-catchers with 11 receptions for 175 yards this season, and his 15.9 yards-per-catch average ranks first among Patriots with five-plus catches.
“We’re happy that Josh is back with us because that means he’s doing well personally,” Slater said. “We support him, and it’s been tremendous to see him come back in this locker room, be embraced, dive right in, work hard, be selfless, keep his head down and just take things one day at a time. …
“You can’t help but smile when you see him out there running around the field, doing what he loves to do. We’re really happy for him.”