Patriots hold on to beat Jaguars 23-16
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP)
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 Sunday.
Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter but bounced back
with two touchdown passes to lead the come-from-behind victory.
''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 game.''
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 Jacksonville's defense.
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 yards.
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 quarter.''
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
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 10.
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 the game.''
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,'' Potter
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
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
New England avoided consecutive losses in December for the first time
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.''
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