The Patriots don’t appear to be peaking as they head toward the playoffs. But after a week in which they lost a great game, they’ll take a win in an ugly game.
That’s exactly what New England got on Sunday against the Jaguars, falling behind early but then coming back to win, as the Patriots managed to escape with a victory in a much tougher game than anyone expected the Jaguars to give them.
New England’s suspect secondary had a rough time against Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne in the early going, as Henne led two scoring drives and the Jaguars jumped out to a 10-0 lead. But eventually the Patriots’ defense began to settle down, and in the second half the Jaguars couldn’t do much offensively.
The Patriots’ offense didn’t make many big plays, but they did have five different sustained scoring drives, each of them covering at least nine plays and at least 52 yards. Short passes from Tom Brady and runs from Stevan Ridley were enough.
Still, the Patriots had a hard time putting the Jaguars away: With less than five minutes remaining and New England leading 23-16, the Jaguars had a huge opportunity to tie the game, with the ball inside the 1-yard line. But tight end Zach Potter false started to move the Jaguars back five yards, and on the next play Henne was sacked, and on the play after that Patrick Chung intercepted Henne, and that stopped that opportunity. Jacksonville would then get the ball back one more time and again threaten to send the game into overtime, but the Jaguars again fell short again as Henne was intercepted in the end zone on the last play of the game.
So the Patriots got the win they needed to improve to 11-4, on a day they played just well enough to beat the 2-13 Jaguars. They didn’t play well enough on Sunday to beat a playoff team.