FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots suddenly found themselves thin at wide receiver Sunday against the New York Jets with Antonio Brown no longer on the roster and Julian Edelman exiting the action just before halftime with a chest injury.
Someone at that position had to step up, and Josh Gordon answered the bell as the Patriots earned a 30-14 victory at Gillette Stadium.
The veteran wideout tallied six receptions for a team-leading 83 yards. Those yards didn't come easy, though. Gordon had a hard fall after going up for a catch along the sideline with the first half winding down. He got up slowly and went into the blue medical tent before returning at the start of the second half. Later in the third quarter, Gordon got a few of his fingers caught in a Jets player's facemask, which forced him to leave the game again.
Soon after getting two of his fingers taped, Gordon made the best catch of the afternoon, hauling in a 28-yard completion from quarterback Tom Brady on 3rd-and-22 that set up a first-and-goal scenario the Patriots later converted into a touchdown for a 30-0 lead.
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Gordon's teammates were impressed at the toughness he showed in fighting through these injuries while the Patriots were shorthanded at wide receiver.
"He's a warrior," Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said of Gordon. "For him to come back in the game -- he knew we needed him. He's a warrior."
Patriots special teams star Matthew Slater had perhaps the best take on Gordon's toughness Sunday.
"We call that war daddy deluxe," Slater said. "He was out there taking hits. I don't know what he did to his finger, but I'm assuming it wasn't good. He showed a lot of toughness today."
Gordon's own view of the pain he went through Sunday was simple. If it isn't bad enough to keep him from playing, he's going to come back and finish his job.
“Some weeks are more painful than others. It’s not always that bad, but it’s part of the game," Gordon said. "I don’t think anybody likes to get banged up or have to come out of the game. It’s just the reality of it. But I think the more important part is how many times do you get knocked down and come back. That’s my mindset. That’s my attitude. If it doesn’t take me out all the way where I can’t physically do it, I’m going to be back out there within a couple plays — if I’m medically approved to do so — I’m going to go back out there no matter what it is that’s hurting me.”
Gordon's road back to the Patriots after being suspended indefinitely last December hasn't been easy. He's put in a lot of hard work to not only return to football, but also be a meaningful contributor in this Patriots offense. His teammates are proud of what he's accomplished so far.
"We're happy that Josh is back with us, because that means he's doing well personally," Slater said. "We support him, and it's been tremendous to see him come back in this locker room, be embraced, dive in, work hard, be selfless, keep his head down and take things one day at a time. We're going to continue to do that with Josh, as well as the rest of the team. Take things one day at a time.
"You can't help but smile when you see him out there running around the field and doing what he loves to do. We're really happy for him."
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