3 winners and 3 losers from the Patriots losing to the Vikings

In perhaps their most entertaining game of the season, the New England Patriots (6-5) trailed the Minnesota Vikings (9-2) 33-26 on Thanksgiving night. Here’s who emerged for better and worse from Thursday night’s defeat.

Winner: QB Mack Jones. The Patriots’ offense petered out, but this may have been Mack Jones’ best game of the season. With a clean pocket in front of him, Jones looked sharp and hit several big passes on his way to a season-high 382 yards. It seems to be working by going faster as well (such as a 40-yard completion to DeVante Parker and a first-quarter touchdown run to Agholor), which is a step in the right direction. The Patriots would take that Mack Jones going forward.

Loser: Special Teams. After playing hero against the Jets last week, it was a night to forget for the Patriots’ special teams unit on Thursday. No two plays in the game swayed as much as Minnesota’s 97-yard punt return (which it may have disposed of with a hold) and then Pierre Strong Jr. roughed up the punt to move the chains for Minnesota – who then scored three plays in time Subsequent. Also, after a strong debut in windy conditions last week, punter Michael Ballardi struggled on the inside at times breaking a single throw from 31 yards. And at the last minute, Marcus Jones’ choice to take a one-line kick appeared to be a questionable decision. All in all, it was a poor showing from this unit.

Winner: TE Hunter Henry. This was the Hunter Henry we’ve been waiting to see all season. Henry was more involved in the passing offense, finishing three catches and five targets for 63 yards, and hauling 37 yards on an old Patriots piece.

It was nice to see him get more involved, especially in the red zone where he seemed to score for his second score of the day. It may not be a coincidence that the passing attack seemed to have Henry more involved.

Loser: Patriots run fast. The Patriots’ pass rush has been one of the best units in the league over the last 11 weeks, and they look like they’re in a prime position to take over Thursday night’s game. The opposite happened, as New England recorded only one sack (Josh O’Shea) and four QB hits. Kirk Cousins ​​was very comfortable in the pocket Thursday night, which is a bad recipe for a win over Minnesota.

Winner: Offensive Line. Surprise. The Patriots’ offensive line, without David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn, had one of their best performances of the season upon initial viewing. Jones had plenty of clean pockets to work with and he was hit minimally. The only questionable play in this group was a block cut by Trent Brown late in the third and the long, but it was a step in the right direction for a unit that has struggled badly lately.

“They did an amazing job,” said Jones. “I didn’t feel pressured at all. … If we can keep doing that, I think things will go our way.”

Loser: Pass coverage. The Patriots managed to survive a not-so-great coverage game against the Jets last week, but Minnesota took advantage this week. Just as Justin Jefferson did, he beat everything the Patriots threw his way to 139 yards—the most they’d allowed all season. Kyle Dugger struggled with TJ Hockenson at times, slipping on a 1-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Slot corner Miles Bryant was also running rough, as a slip into man coverage led to a 25-yard completion and was then flagged for unnecessary roughness soon after. Jonathan Jones also committed a pair of face mask penalties.

Honorable Mention: Another day another game from Rhamondre Stevenson doing everything he can to carry the Patriots offense. Stephenson hauled 5.1 yards per carry and led the team with nine receptions on 10 targets.

As Mac Jones aired it, DeVante Parker caught all four of his targets for 80 yards, including a 40-yard Dime first down. Nelson Agulor also put up a season-high eight goals while notching a season-high six receptions. He hauled in the first quarter from 34 yards – the Patriots’ first opening drive and first quarter touchdown of the season.

Defensively, linebacker Raekwon McMillan made several great plays leading up to the loss. He hit the gap on the Vikings’ out-of-the-zone run to quickly drop Cook and later displayed his speed as he walked out in front of the screen for another loss.

Say what you will about the referee in Sunday’s defeat, but good teams are able to overcome those hurdles. A generally undisciplined game of football in all three phases (special teams slip-ups, defensive penalties, burning timeouts twice in a two-minute practice, etc.) ultimately proved to be the cause of Thursday’s defeat.

On the injury front, Jacoby Myers was in and out of the lineup as he struggled with a shoulder injury sustained in the Patriots’ first offensive game from scrimmage. Damien Harris has also been ruled out with a groin injury and seen On crutches in the locker room game.

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