The Patriots bring a win home against the Fins to start 2023


Photo credit Michael Dwyer

Whilst the NFL world is sending prayers for Damar Hamlin and his family, I fully appreciate that a Patriots game recap is not on everyone’s mind, and I debated even writing this one. However, Damar Hamlin is a football player and so in tribute to him and with hopes of his speedy recovery, I write this. 

With week 17 in the bag, the Patriots are apparently controllers of their own destiny, although it can depend upon a multitude of scenarios so, are they?

Technically yes, because as we like to say “you can only play who is on your schedule” and the Patriots are where they are because they won some games and lost others. 

And to many peoples surprise, not mine, they won against the Dolphins. Now, there may be murmurings of it was third string quarterback, but that doesn’t really show fair for the rest of the Dolphins team which has been rather good, in particular the first half of the season under a new Head Coach. I mean, they do have one of the top wide receiver duos in the league too. 

It’s safe to say that the Patriots defense has been the strength of the team for this season even when they haven’t played at their best, and it would be easy for me to gloss over the shortcomings of the offense, although I have tried really hard this season to say it like it is, just with a more positive tone to it. 

Following the Bears game, Mac Jones has only thrown two interceptions and five wins under his belt, but it is difficult to celebrate these positives when he seemed much further along in his career, this time last year. 

We all know the coaching and offensive line, and the coaching of the offensive line, are big issues. They have been discussed ad nauseam, so let me run you through a few delights of the game against Miami to warm your cockles this dark and damp Tue-onday (also known as a Tuesday that feels like a Monday).  

I could also name this “things to celebrate on the Patriots team!”

We finally saw a bit of Hunter Henry action, and whilst some of us have been desiring this more than others, it was a welcome show of 5 receptions for 52 yards. The peak might have been the ‘on side kick recovery and secure’ that helped the game conclude in a win. I pose a question to you though… why is it that we really only see success with Hunter Henry when Jonnu Smith isn’t on the field? This is a conspiracy theory for 2023, methinks. 

The secondary was depleted almost to the point of insanity as newbie to the roster Tae Hayes (number 39) played 24 snaps, but they still managed great containment of Jaylen Waddle. Tyreek Hill was a little more challenging especially as Myles Bryant had plenty of responsibility to cover him, and also played 100% of he defensive snaps. 

If the defense without the dynamic duo of Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, and the solid player of Jalen Mills can succeed against two of the great wide receivers in the NFL at then moment, then it can’t be all bad, right?

As usual, the names of those that make the good list are:

Rhamondre Stevenson, particularly with his great cut-cut-cut and run early in the second quarter. 

Damien Harris returned from injury looking strong, and Michael Onwenu made sure his teammate had a bit of extra assistance with a great block to almost close out the second quarter. 

Jakobi Meyers continues to be my number one Patriots wide receiver with a great air catch, or it could be called a flying touchdown. Depends how you feel, but either way it was fabulous. Unfortunately, he left the game not long after with a possible chest injury and as I write this I have no further updates on that. 

And that’s what sparkled on the offense, as aforementioned the defense is the strength! Christian Barmore, Josh Uche, Deatrich Wise and Matthew Judon… the stuff of nightmares! And then, the mighty King Doug, Kyle Dugger, had an interception for a touchdown!

Devin McCourty almost closed out his 2022 season as a New England Patriot at home with an interception.. almost!

So that concludes week 17 for the Patriots! Tune in next time you lovely lot, and go Pats!

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