Patriots-Vikings Takeaways: Mac Jones looks sharp as he loses effort originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings played one of the most entertaining games of the 2022 NFL season on Thanksgiving Night. The back-and-forth ended with Minnesota in the lead, 33-26.
After stopping the New York Jets from scoring a touchdown in Week 11, the Patriots defense struggled to contain the Vikings’ pass attack. Kirk Cousins completed 30 of his 37 attempts for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Superstar wideout Justin Jefferson did the most damage with nine catches for 139 yards and a TD.
Belichick compares Stevenson to two all-time NFL greats
The defensive and special teams, along with costly penalties and some controversial decisions, spoiled an encouraging performance from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. He came out to throw for a career-high 382 yards with two touchdowns — and one third, which was reversed — in the losing effort.
Here are three takeaways from an exciting Thanksgiving shootout but a disappointing result for New England.
Penalties prove expensive
Our Tom E. Curran put it best: “The Patriots’ penchant for penalties is breathtaking.”
Penalties have been a problem for New England all season, and they were once again a deciding factor in Thursday’s loss. The Patriots were penalized six times for 55 yards.
Myles Bryant was flagged for a personal foul after scoring against Vikings’ Adam Thielen. Jonathan Jones had two facemask penalties. Pierre Strong ran into the punter to continue a drive in Minnesota that eventually became the game-winning TD.
These types of games are typically uncharacteristic of a team coached by Bill Belichick, but they dragged the Patriots down throughout the 2022 campaign. Surely on Thursday you could argue that this was the reason they fell short.
Mac Jones has his best game of 2022
To make the loss worse for the Patriots, it’s Jones’ best game of the season so far and arguably his best as a pro.
The Patriots sophomore quarterback showed some flash against the New York Jets last Sunday but still couldn’t find the end zone in the 10-3 win. He wasted no time putting points on the board on Thursday night.
Jones responded quickly to the Vikings’ first touchdown with a TD of his own, a 34-yarder on Nelson Agholor. It was the first touchdown on the Patriots offense in a first quarter this season.
Jones kept it going in the third quarter with a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hunter Henry.
Despite the absences of David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots’ offensive line did its part for most of the night to give Jones a chance to shine. Jones had a lot more time to operate in the bag and was only sacked three times – the third time in the final moments of the game. It’s no surprise that an improved O-line made Jones look like his 2021 self.
Absent a controversial overturned call on what appeared to be a second Henry TD, Jones would have three for the game and possibly a different bottom line.
Despite the loss, Jones can hang his hat on his most impressive stat line of the season so far. He finished 28 of 39 for a career-high 382 yards, two TDs, zero interceptions, and a 119.8 quarterback rating. He’s hoping to stay hot in a big divisional matchup against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium next Thursday.
Justin Jefferson is a cheat code
You already knew that, but it’s worth repeating. Jefferson hosted a show on national television Thursday night.
The normally strong Patriots defense had no answer to the Vikings superstar for most of the game. Jefferson immediately made his mark with a Landing reception on the inaugural drive. He made history, breaking Hall of Famer Randy Moss’ record for most yards in the first three seasons of an NFL career.
Jefferson showed off his big play ability with a handful of ridiculous grabs, including this one:
And another to kick off the Vikings’ TD in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings selected Jefferson 22nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, one spot ahead of the Patriots. New England traded down from that No. 23 pick, but we can’t help but wonder what might have been if Jefferson had fallen another spot or if Belichick had traded up to get it.