The New England Patriots are officially in the win column. Bill Belichick's team earned its first victory of the 2021 season after defeating the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium 25-6. Coming into this matchup, much was made about Belichick's strong history going up against rookie quarterbacks, and that came to fruition in Week 2. New England's defense was able to force Jets No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson into four interceptions on the day.
Those turnovers proved to be particularly costly because the Patriots were able to put up 16 total points on their ensuing possessions. New York also had more total yards of offense, more first downs, and an edge in time of possession over the Patriots, so those interceptions were truly the difference between being 1-1 and 0-2 to begin the year.
In his second-career start, New England's Mac Jones completed 22 of his 30 passes for 186 yards. The Patriots offense was primarily driven by the backfield tandem of Damien Harris and James White. Harris led the team in rushing (62 yards) while White led the team in receptions (six) and receiving yards (45). Each was also able to find the end zone.
Below, you'll be able to find our main takeaways from Sunday's head-to-head.
Why the Patriots won
Unlike last week against Miami, the Patriots did not shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and silly penalties. Belichick's club was still a little loose with the football at times but ultimately wasn't burned by coughing up possession. New England also capitalized on the miscues of the Jets, scoring 16 points off New York's four turnovers on the day. From that standpoint, it was as good of complementary football as you can get.
Offensively, Jones was able to spread the ball around efficiently, connecting with seven different pass catchers. The running game totaled 101 yards on the ground on 4.2 yards per carry. Defensively, the interceptions were naturally the storyline, but the club was also able to pressure Wilson quite a bit, totaling seven quarterback hits and four sacks in the win.
It was a perfect effort by the Patriots, but they were able not to beat themselves, which was something you couldn't say about them after the opener.
Why the Jets lost
Wilson's four interceptions were the takeaway in New York falling to 0-2 to begin the year. His first two throws of the day were interceptions, immediately putting his club behind the eight ball. The Jets led the Patriots in total yards, first downs, and time of possession, but those picks were simply too much to overcome, especially as New England was able to put up double-digit points off those turnovers. If Wilson played a clean game, we could be looking at a completely different outcome.
On top of those picks, the Jets did struggle at times tackling, especially on Harris' 26-yard touchdown run that really pulled the Patriots away.
Despite three first-half interceptions by Wilson, New York only trailed 13-3 heading into the locker room at halftime. However, as the Jets came out for the third quarter, Wilson's fourth and final pick proved to be a dagger. The No. 2 overall pick lofted a pass deep down the left side of the field. While the throw was intended for rookie Elijah Moore, the ball wasn't particularly close. Safety Devin McCourty was able to plant himself under the throw and secure the pick. Two plays later, Harris was able to run for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 19-3 lead.
Play of the game
Harris did his best Marshawn Lynch impression on this 26-yard touchdown run at the 10:33 mark of the third quarter. The Patriots running back took an inside handoff up the gut and was able to break a handful of tackles as he scampered into the end zone. As Harris was approaching the goal line, he needed an extra push in the pile, which came courtesy of a number of Patriots, including Jones.
Harris finished his day with 62 yards rushing to go with the score. he also caught his lone targets of the day for 2 yards.
From here, the Patriots will head back to Foxborough to play host to the New Orleans Saints, who are reeling from a 26-7 loss at the hands of the Panthers. As for the Jets, they'll go on the road for a Week 3 matchup with the Broncos -- fresh off a win against the Jaguars -- in Denver.