An unsung hero shined for the Patriots in their ninth win of the season.
New England narrowly escaped a second consecutive loss in Week 11. Tom Brady and Co. struggled mightily to move the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the unit largely was bailed out by the defense, which buckled down after a shaky first quarter. The Patriots also received a stellar collective performance from their special teams, most notably Jake Bailey.
It was a busy afternoon for the rookie punter, who was called to action eight times in the Super Bowl LII rematch. Bailey rose to the occasion all while dealing with less-than-ideal weather conditions, and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed by NBC Sports’ Peter King, who tabbed the Stanford product with a Special Teams Player of the Week honor in his latest Football Morning in America column.
“In a field-position game, Bailey was the Patriots’ MVP, punting eight times for a 47.6-yard average, and dropping six inside the Eagles’ 20,” King wrote. “He saved his best punt for last: Late in the fourth quarter of a 17-10 game, he launched his final punt 54 yards to the Philadelphia 12-yard line. Ballgame.”
Bailey also fielded praise after the game from Bill Belichick, who put the punter’s value to New England to light. As for the 22-year-old himself, he shifted the recognition to his “All-Star” teammates on special teams.
Every football coach will tell you all three phases need to excel in order to win a Super Bowl. With both the defense and special teams consistently operating at high levels, a mediocre offense might be the only thing that potentially might hold the Patriots back.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images