If Jones wasn't in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation heading into Week 10, he's definitely in the conversation now after leading the Patriots to a 45-7 blowout win over the Cleveland Browns in what was arguably his best performance of the year.
Jones is clearly getting more comfortable on the field each week, and you can tell, because he seems to be making bolder throws. Although his numbers weren't flashy (he only threw for 198 yards), he came up clutch nearly every time he threw the ball in a game where he completed 82.6% of his passes, which was the second-highest total in team history in a game where a QB threw at least 10 passes (And yup, you guessed it, the record is held by Tom Brady).
Jones started the day by completing nine of his first 10 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring throw came on a perfect 3-yard pass to Hunter Henry that the defender had no chance to stop.
If a 3-yard scoring pass doesn't impress you, maybe a 23-yard touchdown will.
With the Patriots leading 14-7 late in the second quarter, Jones made one of his boldest throws of the day when he decided he was going to try and thread the needle with a pass to Kendrick Bourne, who was double-covered by the Browns. To get the touchdown, a perfect pass and a great catch were going to be needed and the Patriots got both. The pass below to Bourne capped the Patriots' first 99-yard TD drive since 2011.
If the Browns were expecting to Jones play the role of a game manager who was going to dink and dunk his way down the field, they were in for a rude awakening Sunday. Jones was routinely taking chances downfield and his throws were so perfect that there was nothing Cleveland could do to stop them.
Besides his 23-yard scoring throw to Bourne, Jones also had a 17-yard pass to Henry in the third quarter that was almost equally impressive as the TD to Bourne.
Every week, the Patriots are giving Jones more responsibility and every week, he's responding by making throws like that. Against the Browns, Jones finished with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions, which is notable, because that made him the first Patriots rookie QB since 1960 to finish a game with three scoring throws and no interceptions.
With the Patriots now 6-4 and Jones hitting his stride, New England should be a team that scares everyone else in the AFC. It's easy to forget that the Patriots are just two plays away from being 8-2 (They missed a field goal in the final seconds against the Buccaneers in Week 4 and they lost a late fumble against the Dolphins in Week 1). The AFC is wide open right now and this Patriots team doesn't just feel like a wild card contender, it feels like a team that could win the AFC East and possibly get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2018 season.
New England 45-7 over Cleveland
|Outside of their 11-play touchdown drive to begin the game, it was effectively all downhill for the Browns as they fell to .500 on the year. Cleveland struggled to move the chains following that scoring drive and were 1 of 11 on third down for the game. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield was limited to just 73 yards passing before leaving midway through the second half with a knee injury. As the offense went silent, the defense didn't have an answer for New England's offense that dropped 45 straight points to end the game. In just the first half alone, the Browns allowed the Patriots to go on a 24-0 run heading into the locker room, which effectively ended any chance of them pulling out a win|
|New England had a near-perfect day in their blowout win over the Browns. They played strong complementary football, turning defensive stops into points by the offense. The most notable came in the first half when Kyle Dugger was able to pick off Mayfield and hand the ball to the offense at the Cleveland 5-yard line, which Rhamondre Stevenson would immediately pound in for a touchdown. Mac Jones and Co. also had four touchdown drives that traveled 90 or more yards and were an efficient 7 of 9 on third down on the day. Meanwhile, Jones finished with his first three-TD passing performance of his career. Don't look now, but the Patriots are white-hot and just collected their fourth win in a row.|
Patriots-Browns grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
San Francisco 31-10 over L.A. Rams (Monday)
|For the second week in a row, the Rams got embarrassed on national television and for the second week in a row, Rams fans are probably wondering if they actually upgraded at quarterback with Matthew Stafford. The Rams QB had another ugly outing that included a pick-six. As bad as Stafford was, the rest of the team might have been worse. The Rams receivers were plagued by uncharacteristic drops, including one by Tyler Higbee that led to the pick-six. Defensively, the Rams had no idea how to stop San Francisco's run-first offense. The Rams looked woefully unprepared for a game that could have vaulted them into a tie for first place in the NFC West if they had won. Instead, they'll now be heading into their bye week on a two-game losing streak. |
|If there's one thing Kyle Shanahan has never had a problem doing as 49ers head coach, it's beating the Rams. Shanahan has now won five straight games against L.A. and this win epitomized why: Shanahan simply outcoached and outclassed Sean McVay. The 49ers decided they were going to run the ball down the Rams' throat and that plan worked to perfection as they rushed 44 times for 156 yards (It was their most carries in a game since 2012). On their opening drive alone, the 49ers called 13 run plays during an 18-play, 93-yard drive that spanned just over 11 minutes. Shanahan got extra creative with his run calls by getting the ball to Deebo Samuel, who carried the ball five times for 36 yards. The 49ers' passing game was also sharp as Jimmy Garoppolo was nearly perfect, completing 15 of 19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers needed a win in the worst kind of way and they got it by playing an "A+" game.|
Indianapolis 23-17 over Jacksonville
|The Jaguars had a chance at pulling off the upset in this game, but it didn't happen because they ended up shooting themselves in the foot one too many times. The Jags' biggest mistake was a special teams gaffe in the first quarter that saw a punt by Logan Cooke get blocked and returned for TD. They added another big mistake with under one minute left to play when Trevor Lawrence lost a fumble that sealed the win for Indy. Those two mistakes overshadowed an impressive performance by a Jaguars defense that limited the Colts to just 295 yards.|
|Jonathan Taylor carried the Colts to a big first-half lead and then Indy held on for dear life after that. Taylor rushed for 116 yards in the game with 107 of those coming in a first half where the Colts jumped out to a 20-9 lead. It was a good thing Taylor ran the ball well, because the Colts simply couldn't do anything through the air. With their pass game failing, the Colts' special teams picked up some of the slack. Not only did Michael Badgley nail three field goals, but E.J. Speed returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter. Defensively, it wasn't a pretty day for a Colts unit that gave up 179 yards on the ground. This win actually marked just the second time in seven years that the Colts have won after surrendering 175 or more rushing yards.|
Buffalo 45-17 N.Y. Jets
|It appears the Bills have fixed most of their offensive problems. One week after scoring just six points, the Bills' offense exploded for 45 in New York. Sure, it was only against the Jets, but it was a performance that should give Josh Allen and Co. a lot of confidence going forward. The Bills' red-zone offense was especially good as they scored six touchdowns on seven trips inside New York's 20. The only thing better than the Bills' offensive showing was their defensive performance. This game marked just the third time since 2010 that the Bills forced five turnovers in a road game.|
|After just two weeks, it appears that whatever magic Mike White had has already run out. The Jets QB, who led a Week 8 upset of the Bengals, came nowhere close to engineering an upset on Sunday. White basically threw the game away with four interceptions and those picks ended up leading to 17 points for the Bills. Although it's easy to pin a lot of the blame for the loss on White, the fact of the matter is that the Jets were bad at everything. They couldn't run the ball, their defense was horrible and they were a disaster on third down (3 of 13).|
Washington 29-19 over Tampa Bay
|Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Buccaneers their bye was last week, because they decided to take this week off, too. Tom Brady got off to an ice-cold start with an interception on two of Tampa's first three possessions. Brady's performance epitomized the day for the Buccaneers: Their offense struggled to move the ball, which was mildly surprising considering that Washington didn't have Chase Young for half the game. It really wasn't a good day for anyone wearing Pewter: Ryan Succop missed a critical extra point late in the game and the defense surrendered a 10:26 TD drive in the fourth quarter that allowed Washington to seal the win. The Buccaneers have now lost two in a row for just the second time with Brady.|
|Washington's defense has been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this year, but you wouldn't know it based on the way they played against the Buccaneers. Even with Young out due to an injury, the Football Team's defense was able to fluster Brady for the better part of four quarters. The Buccaneers were averaging 423.1 yards per game going into Week 10, but Washington held them to just 273. Offensively, Taylor Heinicke made multiple clutch throws despite facing constant pressure and being sacked five times.|
Pittsburgh 16-16 tie with Detroit
|With Dan Campbell calling the plays, the Lions were determined to win the game using their running game. It was also clear that the Lions were going to try to win the field position game while relying on their defense to make enough stops against the Rudolph-led Pittsburgh offense. The game plan created some head-scratching plays that included several running plays on third-and-long. But the plan nearly resulted in the Lions' first win. The Lions ran for a whopping 229 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries. D'Andre Swift ran for 130 yards on 33 carries to record his second career 100-yard game and his first since Week 5 of the 2020 season. Including overtime, the Lions allowed only six points during the game's final 44 minutes. The Lions made two big red-zone stands against an offense that came into the game with the league's fourth-best red-zone offense. Detroit's missed field goal in overtime prevented the Lions from receiving a perfect grade.|
|The Steelers squandered a chance to take sole possession for first place in the AFC North for the first time this season. After scoring on their opening drive, the Steelers never found the end zone again. Questionable play-calling was one of the reasons why Pittsburgh had to settle for two Chris Boswell field goals on their next two trips inside Detroit's 20-yard line. A holding penalty on Dan Moore wiped out a Najee Harris touchdown run on Pittsburgh's second trip inside the red zone. Their third trip ended with three straight incomplete passes from Rudolph, who struggled with his accuracy all day. The Steelers' defense, which played without T.J. Watt for most of the second half, had no answer for the Lions' rushing attack during the game's first 33 minutes. But after allowing 199 yards on the Lions' first 21 carries, Pittsburgh's defense gave up just 30 yards on Detroit's final 18 carries. |
Steelers-Lions grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 43-3 over Atlanta
|Flying high after defeating the Saints in New Orleans, the Falcons seemed to underestimate what they were up against in Dallas. Maybe it was the fact the Cowboys were humbled a week ago and the Falcons were winning more as of late than they were losing, but Matt Ryan couldn't keep the pressure on with Kyle Pitts and the Falcons' defense found itself victim of a prolific Cowboys offense to which Atlanta had no answers. In the end, mustering only three points on the road while allowing 43 can only land you a big, fat failing grade.|
|After delivering one of the worst outings you've ever witnessed in the history of the franchise in their loss to the Broncos, the Cowboys flipped the script and became Picasso against the Falcons -- every stroke being a masterful one that lent itself to the painting of a piece you simply couldn't look away from. They dominated the game in all three phases and never once let up, keeping their foot on the throat of the Falcons to the point where Matt Ryan was pulled and Josh Rosen inserted only to walk face-first into the same beating. The Cowboys needed to send a message, or rather the message, and they did just that: they're still contenders ... and now they're angry.|
Cowboys-Broncos grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 23-21 over New Orleans
|You can't be too hard on this team since it was without a starting quarterback and Alvin Kamara. The defense certainly had its moments, but so did Trevor Siemian. It was cool to see Mark Ingram become the Saints' all-time leading rusher in what was a good game for him, and the resilience of this squad was on full display. The Saints' ceiling may be limited by the quarterback situation, but this is still a team that's going to give you everything it has each week.|
|It wasn't very pretty, but the Titans found a way to win their sixth straight game. Offensively, Tennessee wasn't consistent in moving the ball, but got a surprise 100-yard receiving game from Marcus Johnson. Defensively, the Titans impressed yet again, as they sacked Siemian four times in the first half. While they did allow New Orleans to come back, they didn't allow the potential game-tying two-point conversion, which is what really matters. While it wasn't an amazing performance, the Titans continue to win. And that's impressive in itself.|
Titans-Saints grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 30-13 over Denver
|The Eagles all of a sudden have a formula on offense -- take the pressure off Jalen Hurts by having a balanced pass-run attack. The Eagles ran for 214 yards and dominated in the trenches with three ball-carriers going over 50 yards. Prior to controlling the ground game, Hurts had his best half of football this year -- completing 15 of 20 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns and five carries for 52 yards. Hurts found DeVonta Smith twice in the end zone for touchdowns as Philadelphia built a lead early and maintained it. The Eagles' defense held Denver to 1-for-5 in the red zone and 1-for-11 on third down -- a Denver team that converted 54% on third down over the last two games. Philadelphia even had a blocked field goal. An all-around effort keeps the Eagles in the race for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. |
|After a big win over Dallas, Denver laid an egg against Philadelphia. Teddy Bridgewater didn't turn the football over, but he missed a few throws downfield and wasn't a threat to a defense that seems to only struggle against elite quarterbacks. Denver ran the ball efficiently (5.3 yards per carry), yet failed to get a crucial first down in a 20-13 game by fumbling on the Eagles' 23-yard line on fourth down -- which Darius Slay took the other way for a score. The Broncos' run defense entered the game sixth in the league (98 yards on average), yet gave up 214 to the Eagles. Denver didn't look like an AFC West contender against a Philadelphia team that is getting better by the week. This was an opportunity to build momentum after the Dallas win and Denver shattered that chance. |
Eagles-Broncos grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Green Bay 17-0 over Seattle
|You could make a case for an "F" here, but the defense actually played pretty well, all things considered, forcing Aaron Rodgers into some bad throws, making a little noise up front and preventing Davante Adams from making a back-breaking play. And yet none of it really mattered, because Russell Wilson was not himself from start to finish. Either his finger is still bothering him or his chemistry with the guys is just out of whack. That offense, dare we say, would've had more life with Geno Smith. This game marked the first time in Wilson's career that the Seahawks have been shut out. |
|Offensively, they were worse than average, that's for sure, at least by their standards. Rodgers just wasn't ever fully in rhythm. But AJ Dillon really stepped up for Aaron Jones, Adams did his thing, and best of all, a defense missing Jaire Alexander and Za'Darius Smith showed out, capitalizing on Wilson's apparent rustiness to make big plays up front and in the back end. They'll only get better as A-Rod settles back in.|
Seahawks-Packers grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Carolina 34-10 over Arizona
|The arrival of Cam Newton apparently lit a fire into everyone on Carolina's roster. With Newton back, the Panthers absolutely destroyed the Cardinals and Cam actually played a big part in the win with both a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Although Cam will get the headlines, the Panthers' defense did the dirty work in this game. With Kyler Murray out, Carolina's defense had its way with Arizona's offense, holding the Cards to just 169 yards of total offense. Christian McCaffrey also finally looked healthy: The Panthers running back ran circles around Arizona's defense on a day where he totaled 161 yards (95 rushing, 66 receiving). Even with McCoy playing for Arizona, this is still an impressive win for a Panthers team that now feels like a legitimate contender for a wild card spot.|
|The Cardinals were able to survive one game without Murray, but asking them to survive two ended up being a bit too much. In what can only be described as a disastrous performance, the Cardinals came out and fell flat on their face to start the game. On their first three possessions, Colt McCoy turned the ball over twice and they also failed on a fourth down, which allowed the Panthers to jump out to a 17-0 lead. For the first time this season, the Cardinals looked completely overmatched. They better hope Kyler's ankle heals soon because they're probably not going to win many more games with McCoy under center.|
Minnesota 27-20 over L.A. Chargers
|After going through multiple gut-wrenching losses this season, the Vikings finally held on to win a nail-biter. Mike Zimmer showed he's willing to gamble and he did that by going for it on fourth-and-2 late in the game instead of kicking a long field goal. If the play had failed, the Chargers would have gotten the ball back with a chance to tie. However, Dalvin Cook ended up converting the first down to ice the game. It was fitting that Cook sealed the win because he had a big day, rushing for 94 yards and a TD. The Chargers spent so much energy trying to slow down Cook that they apparently forgot that Justin Jefferson existed. The receiver ended the game with 143 yards on just nine catches. Defensively, the Vikings flummoxed Justin Herbert, holding the Chargers QB to just 195 yards. It was a huge win for a Minnesota team that has had a tough time coming up with huge wins this year.|
|The Chargers' defense was on the field for more than 36 minutes in this game and it definitely started to show in the second half. Starting midway through the third quarter, the Vikings were able to move the ball at will and that includes Minnesota's final possession of the game. If the Chargers had been able to get a stop, the L.A. offense would have had a chance to tie things up, but instead, the Chargers let the Minnesota offense walk all over them with a 10-play, 4:36 drive. The defense has been so bad this season that the offense doesn't really have any margin for error and it's definitely showing. Herbert threw an interception against the Vikings and L.A. is now 1-4 in games where he throws a pick. The Chargers had a chance to take over sole possession of first place, but they blew it.|
Kansas City 41-14 over Las Vegas
|That's more like it. Kansas City got back on track offensively, with Patrick Mahomes finding open receivers all over the field throughout the evening en route to a five-touchdown performance. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill each had big nights, and Darrel Williams was a major factor in the passing game. The defense did its job, keeping Derek Carr and Co. in check for the competitive portion of the game. |
|Did the Raiders just not watch any film of the Chiefs this week? Where were all the two-high safety coverages? And where was Carr throwing the ball for most of the second half? Bad, bad performance.|
Chiefs-Raiders grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
2021 NFL Salute to Service Gear revealed
Honor our service members while supporting your favorite team. Get camo trucker hats, pullovers hoodies, jerseys, and more. See the entire 2021 NFL Salute to Service collection here. We salute our service members and thank you for your dedication!
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.