Mac Jones could have gone all down in the dumps.
Instead, the Patriots quarterback stayed positive after some early adversity and even tried to dump a few Dolphins himself to get his team back in an eventual 20-7 loss Sunday.
Jones threw an interception (deflected by a pass-interfering Xavien Howard and snagged by Jevon Holland) to end a promising initial drive, then suffered a strip-sack, resulting in a touchdown and a 10-0 deficit.
On the possession following the pick, Jones was spotted throwing his body in Holland’s path to help spring Rhamondre Stevenson for a 12-yard gain on a crack toss left.
After falling behind, 17-0, at the half, Jones spearheaded a 15-play, 92-yard touchdown drive to breathe life into his club in the stifling South Florida heat.
Those were just a couple of the examples of Jones showing his toughness (both physical and mental) and the leadership (which Jakobi Meyers recently called “crazy”) in the face of adversity.
“I think he definitely competed the entire game,” quarterbacks coach Joe Judge said Tuesday. “I saw a lot of poise in a lot of situations from Mac. You know, there was a large focus, obviously, on getting down there and starting fast and coming out [with points]. I thought we moved the ball well. Obviously, the drive didn’t end the way we wanted it to but that’s not all on one player. Everything is collective, all the coaches and players together.”
Jones was hurried plenty and hit three times, including one high-low blow on which he suffered a back injury on the third to last drive of the game. He gutted through the final two drives before having postgame X-rays, which were normal. Jones said Monday “everything’s good” and he will practice Wednesday and he aims to play Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“I like the way he fought throughout the game," said Judge. “There’s a lot of things that Mac does that really kind of goes above what you see a normal quarterback doing. Doing a good job sealing off blocks on the backside, competing and staying in the pocket and staying aggressive against a very tough rush. Took some shots, got back up kept on fighting. You know, he does that consistently through games and practices for us."
Matt Patricia, who is the point man for the offensive play-calling processes, has been impressed, calling Jones both “cerebral” and “very, very tough.”
“I think one of the things you realize in this league is if you’re an NFL quarterback, you have a tremendous amount of toughness about you,” Patricia said. “You stand in the pocket and you play the game … and you look at the defense across from you and you try to decipher a lot of information in a short amount of time and you get the communication out and then play the physical part of the game, too. [Mac’s] a guy that has shown us he can do that at a high level.”
Steelers RB Harris says he’s playing, DE Watt is out
Steelers running back Najee Harris said during an interview on SiriusXM the foot injury he suffered Sunday against the Bengals was “nothing too crazy” and he “will be playing” Sunday against the Patriots. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said Harris will “need to prove his readiness” in practice … The news was not so encouraging for T.J. Watt, as the reigning defensive of player of the year is expected to miss approximately six weeks with a pectoral injury … Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord on facing one of his star ex-pupils this week in returner Gunner Olszewski: “He’s not going to fair-catch the ball. He doesn’t want to fair-catch the ball.” … Linebackers coach Steve Belichick said the reason for Anfernee Jennings’s inactive status was purely about spots. “Unfortunately, we’re limited to a certain number of players [on game day]. For him and everybody else, just keep working hard and keep improving. I didn’t look too much into it.”