FOXBORO, Mass. — It took 39 games and 135 receptions, but Jakobi Meyers finally found the end zone Sunday for the first time in his NFL career.
The New England Patriots wide receiver caught a short pass from backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, broke a tackle and vaulted over the goal line to put the finishing touches on a 45-7 beatdown of the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium.
Meyers had scored on two-point conversions. He’d thrown a pair of touchdown passes. He’d caught preseason touchdowns and had touchdowns called back for penalties. But this was his first actual, official, regular season touchdown. No player in NFL history had caught more passes or recorded more receiving yards without one.
Not even close, actually.
Meyers entered Sunday with 131 career catches for 1,522 yards. The player with the second-most receptions and receiving yards without a receiving or rushing touchdown, according to Pro Football Reference, was a former Patriots tight end named Bob Adams. He retired in 1976 with 61 career catches for 732 yards.
Finally breaking that drought and removing his name from that ignominious record was a relief for Meyers. But what happened next was even more meaningful for the 25-year-old.
After Meyers somersaulted into the end zone, nearly the entire Patriots roster ran down from the sideline to celebrate with him.
“You know what’s crazy?” a smiling Meyers said after the game. “Honestly, fact that everybody celebrated with me means more than the touchdown. I feel like it says a lot about your teammates, what they think of you, just the fact that they were all there. I know they’ve been waiting on it. They’ve been real patient. And everyone outside of them, my family, that was more so for them. …
“Just the fact that everybody celebrated with me and it finally happened, that’s a moment that I’ll probably hold onto forever.”
(Meyers also shared well-wishes for Browns cornerback Troy Hill, who suffered a neck injury on the play and stretchered off the field.)
Fellow receiver Kendrick Bourne called Meyers’ long-awaited touchdown “the highlight of the game,” despite the fact it came in garbage time with the Patriots holding a 31-point lead. Starting QB Mac Jones, who had been given the rest of the afternoon off by that point, said he predicted it before the game.
“I told (Meyers) today, I was like, you’re going to score (in) the game,” Jones said. “I didn’t know it was going to come from Hoyer. (laughs)”
Meyers joined the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2019 and has since developed into New England’s No. 1 receiver. In addition to his late score, he also converted two third downs on completions from Jones and filled in for an injured Gunner Olszewski on punt returns.
“It’s great every time we score,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “But yeah, Jakobi has been a part of a lot of big plays that have put other guys in a position to do that and good to see him score. But the most important thing is the contributions that everybody made to the team winning the game and giving a solid performance for four quarters out there. I think everybody’s just happy that that happened, and they should be, because they worked hard to make it happen.”