Patriots overtake Jaguars 50-10 to earn playoff berth | Sports News
By KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writer
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The Patriots missed an opportunity to win the AFC East title in a humiliating loss to the Bills last week.
They expressed their frustrations on the lowly Jaguars for making their way into the playoffs.
New England returned to the playoffs when rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw three touchdown passes and Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for two goals apiece in their 50-10 win over Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Patriots’ victory (10-6) ended a two-game losing streak and gave Bill Belichick his 20th 10-game season as a head coach, tying Don Shula for most of the NFL history. A loss to Miami at Tennessee secured New England’s first trip to the playoffs since Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay after the 2019 season.
“We’re trying to play as long as possible and get as far as possible in the playoffs,” Jones said. “I understand why we’re playing.… Anything that happens in the future, we’ll deal with when it happens.”
The Jaguars (2-14) have lost eight straight games, including three in a row since coach Urban Meyer’s sacking. It was their 17th straight road loss, the league’s longest streak.
Jones finished 22 of 30 for 227 yards in his first game against his home team, setting a franchise record for rookie touchdown passes with 21. Stevenson had 107 yards on 19 carries. Harris ran nine times for 35 yards before leaving in the second half with a hamstring injury. He said afterwards that he was fine.
“We have more games to play, it’s that easy,” said Harris. “We all think we have something special with this team.”
Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson had two touchdowns – the first of his career – after being promoted to the practice squad for the second straight week. He scored a 6-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. His second came on a 20-yard pass on their first possession in the second half that extended the lead to 34-3.
The New England defense also rebounded from a tough outing against Buffalo, keeping the Jaguars to 253 yards and 3 of 9 in third downs. Myles Bryant, JC Jackson and Kyle Dugger have all been pulled over.
It was part of the last tough outing for Jaguars quarterback and draft first pick Trevor Lawrence, who finished 17 of 27 for 193 yards. He landed a late touchdown pass, his first in five games. But it mostly ran into backups.
“Obviously it wasn’t a good day,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t play well in all phases of the game. It sucks. You prepare for the game and go out there and not play, it’s disappointing. I have to turn the page. … It is really frustrating.
Jones, the last quarterback caught in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, now has wins over the top two quarterbacks selected at Lawrence and second overall pick Zach Wilson.
Jacksonville entered the game with eight starters and 13 players in total absent due to COVID-19. The roster included three starting offensive linemen – left tackle Cam Robinson, center Brandon Linder and goaltender Ben Bartch – and five substitutes.
“There are a lot of circumstances and things these guys are up against. I just ask them to do their best at all times. That’s what we hope for,” said interim coach Darrell Bevell. “It didn’t work out for us today.”
Patriots: In addition to Harris’ hamstring injury, safety Adrian Phillips also left in the second half with a wrist injury. He said the injury was minor.
Jackson’s interception in the second quarter was the 25th of his career, tying the NFL record for a player in his first four seasons (Emerson Walls, Lester Hayes).
And with his 40-yard goal to wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in the first quarter, Lawrence of Jacksonville set a passing yard mark for the rookies in a single season for the Jaguars. He needed 47 yards to beat the mark set by Gardner Minshew, who threw for 3,271 yards in 2019. Lawrence now holds the Jacksonville rookie records for passes completed and passing yards.
With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Bevell said there had been a conversation on the sidelines about the possibility of putting Lawrence on the bench in favor of substitute CJ Beathard. Ultimately, they decided to let Lawrence finish the game.
“We were able to prepare for a practice there and we ended up scoring a touchdown. It ended up working in our favor, ”said Bevell. “It was important, of course, that we protect him and do these things in this training, but I thought it went well.”
Jaguars: Welcome the Colts to their regular season finale.
Patriots: Visit Miami in their final.
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