Patriots

Patriots-Jaguars takeaways: Pats secure playoff berth with 50-10 win

Patriots

The New England Patriots earned one of their most impressive wins of the 2021 NFL season Sunday, beating the last-place Jacksonville Jaguars 50-10 in rainy conditions at Gillette Stadium.

It's the second time the Patriots have scored 50-plus points this season. They also beat the New York Jets 54-13 in Week 7.

The Jaguars' record dropped to 2-14, putting them in the drivers' seat for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft. The Patriots improved to 10-6 with the convincing win, which secured a playoff spot and keeps New England alive in the race for the AFC East title (more on that below).

Next up for the Patriots is a regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins on the road in Week 18.

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Before we start looking ahead to that matchup, here are four takeaways from Patriots-Jaguars.

1) Patriots secure playoff berth

After having their 11-year postseason appearance streak snapped in 2020 with a 7-9 record, the Patriots are back in the mix after securing a playoff berth Sunday.

The Patriots clinched a postseason spot with the combination of beating the Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins losing to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

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It's still possible for the Patriots to win the AFC East title, but for that to happen they need to beat the Dolphins in Week 18 and have the Buffalo Bills lose to the New York Jets.

The likeliest scenario is the Patriots finishing as the No. 5 or 6 seed.

2) Damien Harris is chasing Pats history

Damien Harris is playing some of the best football of his young NFL career, and on Sunday he found the end zone multiple times for the second consecutive week.

 

After scoring three rushing touchdowns versus the Buffalo Bills in Week 16, the Patriots' starting running back tallied two more touchdowns in the first half against the Jaguars.

He now has 14 rushing touchdowns on the season, tying him with Curtis Martin for the second-most in a single season in Patriots history. Martin tallied 14 touchdowns in both the 1995 and 1996 campaigns. The franchise leader is LeGarrette Blount, who set the team record in 2016 with 18 rushing touchdowns.

Harris has scored seven rushing touchdowns over the last four games, and he ranks tied for second among all running backs through Week 17. Indianapolis Colts star Jonathan Taylor is the league leader with 17 scores.

Harris didn't finish Sunday's game as the Patriots opened up a massive lead. He was listed as questionable to return in the second half due to a hamstring injury.

3) New England defense bounces back

The Patriots made No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence's first ever game in Foxboro one to forget. The rookie quarterback threw for just 193 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He also was sacked twice and finished with a 57.1 QB rating.

The Jaguars offense racked up only 253 total yards and was kept out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.

J.C. Jackson tallied one of Lawrence's interceptions, giving him eight on the season. He now has 25 interceptions in his career, which is tied for the most in league history over a player's first four years.

Sure, the Jaguars are an awful team and had several players out of the lineup on the COVID-19 reserve list, but this result was definitely a confidence-booster for the Patriots defense and builds much-needed positive momentum as the playoffs near.

4) Mac Jones sets record in excellent performance

Mac Jones bounced back in a major way Sunday after two straight lackluster outings against the Colts in Week 15 and Bills in Week 16.

He completed 22 of 30 pass attempts for 227 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Jones' second touchdown of the game gave him 20 for the season, which set a new Patriots record for the most touchdown passes by a rookie. Jim Plunkett set the previous record with 19 in 1971. 

Jones played with a little swagger Sunday, and this confidence boost should serve him well with the playoffs approaching. There was plenty of talk earlier in the week about Jones potentially having hit a rookie wall. He put the struggles of the last two weeks behind him and gave one of his best performances of the season versus the Jaguars.