Patriots hold on to beat Jaguars 23-16
If the New England Patriots need to accomplish anything before
the postseason, it probably should be avoiding sluggish starts.
The AFC East champions had to rally from a double-digit deficit
for the second consecutive week, recovering from an early hole and
then holding off the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16 on
Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter but
bounced back with two touchdown passes to lead the come-from-behind
”We came out flat and I think it showed out there,” Patriots
receiver Wes Welker said. ”We’ve got to do a better job of
starting fast and doing what we do to take control of the
A week after falling behind 31-3 against San Francisco and tying
the game before losing 41-34, the Patriots (11-4) found themselves
down 10-0 in Jacksonville.
But the Jaguars faded in the third quarter for the fourth
consecutive week, lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games and
set a franchise record for losses in a season.
Brady had a lot to do with Jacksonville’s latest setback,
finding his rhythm after a sluggish start and picking apart
He completed 24 of 41 passes for 267 yards, his worst outing in
six games against the Jaguars. Welker caught 10 passes for 88
yards, passing Jerry Rice and Andre Johnson for the most 10-catch
games (18) in NFL history. Stevan Ridley ran 18 times for 84
But the team’s lethargic start got all the attention.
”They got off to that fast start and that kind of caught us by
surprise,” Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder said. ”I thought
we played better as the game progressed. We’ve just got to avoid
the slow starts and get the offense going right from the first
Brady hooked up with Welker for a 2-yard score on the second
play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots up 23-13. That
seemed like plenty of cushion against the offensively challenged
Jaguars. Jacksonville, though, had two decent chances to tie things
in the closing minutes.
Trailing by a touchdown, the Jags faced third-and-goal at the 1
when tight end Zach Potter jumped before the snap. So the
short-yardage situation became a passing play, and Chad Henne was
sacked, leaving Jacksonville with a fourth-and-goal play at the
Chandler Jones hit Henne as he tried to throw, and Patrick Chung
intercepted the floater over the middle.
”It’s a bad feeling, obviously,” Potter said. ”It puts our
team in a bad situation there. It’s not the one play that cost us
Potter said he had trouble hearing the snap count because
thousands of Patriots fans scoped up tickets and helped give
Jacksonville its biggest home crowd since 2004.
”It was really loud, which you don’t usually expect at home,”
Coach Mike Mularkey, though, blamed the officials for failing to
recognize and penalize New England for yelling out cadence during a
”That was disappointing because that was brought up to the
officials before the game,” Mularkey said. ”That was addressed.
We practiced it. We practiced it the whole week with those guys
shifting with the cadence. … Obviously they didn’t call it and we
jumped. Very frustrating.”
Regardless, the Jaguars got the ball back after the Patriots
failed to run out the clock.
Henne connected with Toney Clemons on fourth down with 22
seconds remaining and then Jordan Shipley for an 18-yard gain that
put them at the New England 12. But Chung intercepted Henne’s final
pass, essentially a jump ball to the middle of the end zone.
”A win is a win, but we know we’ve got to play better no matter
what,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. ”It’s better to come
out here when you’re not at your best and get a win. I think this
team really understands it’s all about us. We’ve got to play our
best each week. It’s disappointing knowing that we didn’t play as
good as we could.”
New England avoided consecutive losses in December for the first
time since 2002.
The Pats got some help, too.
The Jaguars had the ball inside New England’s 25 seven times,
but came away with a touchdown and three field goals.
And not scoring touchdowns against the league’s most prolific
offense is hardly a formula for success.
”We had them on their heels for a while,” Jaguars defensive
end Jeremy Mincey said. ”They just capitalized, got a few
interceptions and a few first downs on us. We held their scoring
average down, which is good, and held them to a lot of field goals,
which was excellent. It still wasn’t enough.”