Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Rookie QBs take center stage again in Patriots-Jets II

Field Level Media
21 Oct 2021, 08:19 GMT+10

After making an unflattering first impression, Zach Wilson will be looking for a better result when the New York Jets face the AFC East rival New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in Foxborough, Mass.

The rookie quarterback was intercepted four times in the Jets' 25-6 loss to the Patriots on Sept. 19 in East Rutherford, N.J. In just his second NFL start and first at home, he threw for 210 yards with no touchdowns on 19-of-33 passing.

"I've got to do a better job executing, decision-making, just being smart with the ball. Turnovers are a big deciding factor in winning games," Wilson said after the loss.

Since that game, Wilson has shown flashes of the player the Jets hoped he could be when they selected him No. 2 overall in this year's draft. Wilson threw for a career-high 297 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in New York's impressive 27-24 overtime win against Tennessee on Oct. 3.

New York (1-4) was on a bye last weekend after its late comeback bid fell short in a 27-20 loss to Atlanta in London on Oct. 10. Wilson finished 19 of 32 for 192 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

"He had a lot of big throws against Tennessee," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Wilson. "He's athletic. Gets out of the pocket every week. It's a challenge back there to contain."

Despite some positive trends of late, the Jets still have to contend with their growing history of struggles against the Patriots.

Even though Tom Brady is no longer with New England, New York has dropped three straight meetings since the start of last season and 11 in a row overall.

"We believe that this team can win," Jets coach Robert Saleh said. "It's an exciting group that we've got. They're gonna figure it out."

Wilson's loss was fellow rookie quarterback Mac Jones' gain in the Patriots' early season win over New York. The No. 15 overall pick in this year's draft had 186 yards on 22-of-30 passing with no touchdowns and no interceptions in his second career start and first NFL victory.

"We've played them already and they're a great defense," Jones said. "They're really hard, (they) run with the ball and they make plays."

As he often has this season, the stable-handed Jones played well enough against the Jets to give his team a chance.

But the former Alabama championship-winning quarterback has yet to prove he can put the team on his back and lift the Patriots to victories.

New England (2-4) has lost three of four since its Week 2 win at New York and is coming off a 35-29 overtime loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

Jones had put the Patriots on top 27-26 with the longest pass of his career, a 75-yard TD to Kendrick Bourne with 2:11 remaining against Dallas.

After a successful Patriots 2-point conversion, the Cowboys drove the field and sent it to overtime with a field goal. Jones and the Patriots were forced to punt on the first drive of overtime before Dallas won it on the next drive.

"(I'm) just turning the page on the last game," said Jones.

Jets tight end Tyler Kroft (back) and linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday while safety Marcus Maye (ankle) was limited.

The Patriots were without three of their starting front seven -- Dont'a Hightower (elbow/ankle), Davon Godchaux (finger) and Deatrich Wise Jr. (knee) -- at practice Wednesday. Cornerbacks Jonathan Jones (shoulder) and Shaun Wade (concussion) were also out.

--Field Level Media

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