How Patriots Players Reacted To Clinching Playoff Spot By Beating Jags

'We're not really focused on that'


Jan 2, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — After a one-year hiatus, the New England Patriots are headed back to the postseason.

Sunday’s 50-10 spanking of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium, coupled with the Miami Dolphins’ 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans, clinched a playoff spot for the Patriots.

New England will enter next week’s regular season finale against the Dolphins in possession of the No. 5 seed in the AFC, with the No. 1 seed and an AFC East title still up for grabs. (To claim either of those, the Patriots would need outside help.)

After Sunday’s win, several Patriots players were asked for their reactions to their team’s return to the playoffs. Most (but not all) offered a variation of the same refrain: There’s still one game left on their schedule.

“We’re not really focused on that,” center David Andrews said. “We’ve got to play (Miami) this week, so we’ve got a big game. Playoffs don’t start for another week, so we’ll deal with that when we deal with that. We’re focused on Miami this week.”

Here’s what other Patriots veterans had to say about Sunday’s clinching:

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers: “We’ve got to dig a little harder. Our job isn’t finished yet. I know it’s a long season, they added the extra game. But at the end of the day, this is what we play for. This is what we want to make it to. This is our chance, and we’ve got to squeeze that opportunity.”

Running back Damien Harris: “We’ve got more games to play. It’s as simple as that. We won today. It was a great win for our team. We got a lot of good things to build on, obviously things to correct, but it was great to come out here and win today. We’ve got another tough challenge coming up next week, so that’s what our focus is — getting ready for Miami.”

Safety Adrian Phillips: “We’re definitely glad to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs, but we’re not even thinking about that right now. We’re thinking about Miami. We’re going to celebrate this win for, like, the next 24 hours, and then it’s on to Miami. And then whatever happens after that, we’ll handle that when it gets there. It’s a great feeling to know that you have the opportunity to go to the postseason, but that’s still a ways away for us.”

Outside linebacker Matthew Judon: “We get to continue to fight after next week. We haven’t done much. We’ve still got to fight. We’ve still got to play. We’ve still got to scratch and claw and come in here and make sure we’re ready for the next opponent. But it was good to get a win today.”

Cornerback J.C. Jackson: “That’s a great spot for us. We know what we’ve got to do. I’m ready to get back to work this week.”

Some of the Patriots’ younger players, though, did admit they were excited about the prospect of playing in the postseason. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson and second-year safety Kyle Dugger — who went 7-9 and missed the playoffs as a rookie last season — both smiled when asked for their reactions.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said Dugger, who grabbed one of Trevor Lawrence’s three interceptions Sunday. “That’s a great feeling. I’m ready to put some more work in and continue to move forward, but that is a great thing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Added Stevenson: “It’s huge. It’s a very long season for me, rookie year, but it’s huge. I’m excited, and we’ve just got to keep working.”

Locking up a spot in Week 17 was highly beneficial for New England. The Patriots traditionally have struggled in Miami, losing in six of their last eight road matchups with the Dolphins.

“I think any sport you play you want to get a chance to play for a championship and for a playoff spot,” said rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who threw three touchdown passes in the lopsided victory. “We have a big game next week, and that’s what we’re going to focus on, and finishing strong and all that. We’ll focus on that and be where our feet are, and then when the next thing comes we’ll have a new plan and attack it.”

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
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