Three Studs, Three Duds From Patriots’ Heartbreaking Loss To Vikings

Was this the best game of Mac Jones' career?

by

November 24

The New England Patriots played well enough to win Thursday night in Minnesota, but self-inflicted errors and poor situational defense resulted in a 33-26 loss to the Vikings.

Mac Jones, finally with solid protection in front of him, completed 28 of 39 passes for two touchdowns and a career-high 389 yards. He was sacked three times but generally had a lot of time to operate in the pocket.

On the other side, Kirk Cousins completed 30 of 37 passes for 299 yards and three scores to go along with one pick. The star of the show for Minnesota was stud receiver Justin Jefferson, who racked up 139 yards and basically was uncoverable.

New England’s offense compiled 409 yards compared to Minnesota’s 358, but the Patriots were done in by six penalties, most of which were costly. This was a huge missed opportunity for Bill Belichick’s team, which now must prepare for a huge Week 13 game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots dropped to 6-5 with the loss while the Vikings improved to 9-2 with the victory.

Here are three studs and three duds from an entertaining night at U.S. Bank Stadium.

STUDS
QB Mac Jones
This might’ve been the best game of Jones’ career. The sophomore quarterback was dialed in from the jump and made some great throws throughout. Sure, there were some mental errors, but considering the production, situation and opponenent, you could argue Jones on Thursday enjoyed the best performance of his young career. Now he needs to replicate it next Thursday night against the Bills.

WR DeVante Parker
With Jakobi Meyers in and out of the game due to injuries, Parker stepped up and was a reliable downfield target for Jones. The veteran wideout finished with four catches for 80 yards and had one of his more productive games as a Patriot. He and Jones must continue this on-field chemistry going forward.

TE Hunter Henry
Your prayers have been answered, Patriots fans. New England finally got its expensive tight end involved, as Henry racked up three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown and arguably should’ve had another score. The 63 yards were a season-high for Henry and his fourth-most in a game since joining the Patriots. His failure to get out of bounds during the final drive of the first half potentially cost his team four points, though.

Honorable mentions: Offensive line, Rhamondre Stevneson, Nelson Agholor Jahlani Tavi, Matthew Judon

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DUDS
Everyone in coverage on Justin Jefferson
The Patriots defense entered the game with one goal above all others: Don’t let Jefferson go off. Well, they failed, as the superstar wideout exploded in the first half before finishing with nine catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. New England’s coverage on Jefferson slightly improved in the second half, but the first half was just brutal. This was an typically poor game for the usually excellent Jonathan Jones, who struggled at times against Jefferson — no shame in that — and committed a pair of facemask penalties.

S Kyle Dugger
Dugger gave up a pair of key receptions to tight end T.J. Hockenson, including a second-quarter touchdown that saw the third-year safety fall down in coverage. Dugger did a great job of tackling, as he usually does, but his occasional issues in pass coverage cropped up in this game. He also played a key role in Kene Nwangwu’s kick-return touchdown in the third quarter, though the officials definitely blew a holding call.

Special teams
A major regression for this group. In addition to giving up the return touchdown, the Patriots committed a running-into-the-kicker penalty in the fourth quarter that gave the Vikings a key first down. A few players later, they scored a touchdown to break a 26-26 tie. On New England’s next series, Michael Palardy shanked a 31-yard punt after a three-and-out. Just not good enough.

Honorable mentions: Special teams, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jonnu Smith

Thumbnail photo via Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry
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