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Patriots-Vikings photos: Mac Jones looks sharp in losing 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 Day. The back-to-back affair ended with Minnesota on top, 33-26.

After holding the New York Jets from scoring a touchdown in Week 11, the Patriots defense struggled to stop the Vikings offense. Kirk Cousins ​​completed 30 of his 37 attempts for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Superstar wideout Justin Jefferson did most of the damage with nine catches for 139 yards and a TD.

Belichick compares Stevenson to two of the NFL’s all-time greats

The defense and special teams, along with costly penalties and some controversial calls, marred an encouraging showing by Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. He sped up to throw for a career-high 382 yards with two touchdowns — and thirdly it was reversed — in a losing effort.

Here are three takeaways from a thrilling but disappointing Thanksgiving Day shootout for New England.

Sanctions are expensive

Our own Tom E. Curran said it best: “Patriots penchant for penalties is glaring.”

Penalties have been an issue for New England all season and were once again the difference in Thursday’s loss. The Patriots were penalized six times for 55 yards.

Myles Bryant was called for a personal foul after hitting Vikings tight end Adam Thielen. Jonathan Jones had two mask penalties. Pierre Strong hit a punter to continue Minnesota’s drive, which eventually turned into the game-winning TD.

These types of plays are usually uncharacteristic of a Bill Belichick-coached team, but they have dragged the Patriots down over the course of the 2022 campaign. You could certainly make a case on Thursday, that was why they came so few.

Mac Jones is having his best game of 2022

For the Patriots, the loss is even greater as Jones’ best game of the season so far is wasted and arguably his best as a pro.

The Patriots second-year quarterback showed some flashes last Sunday against the New York Jets, but still couldn’t find the end zone in a 10-3 win. He wasted no time putting points on the board Thursday night.

Jones quickly responded to the Vikings’ opening touchdown with a TD of his own, a 34-yarder to Nelson Agholor. It marked the first touchdown by the Patriots offense in the first quarter this season.

Jones kept it going with a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hunter Henry in the third quarter.

Despite the absence of David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots offensive line did their part for most of the night to give Jones a chance to shine. Jones had much more time to work in the pocket and was sacked only three times – the third coming in the final moments of the game. It’s no surprise that an improved O-line has Jones looking like his 2021 self.

If not for a controversial overturned call on what appeared to be Henry’s second TD, Jones would have had three for the game and potentially a different end result.

Despite the loss, Jones can hang his hat on his most impressive stat of the season to this point. He finished 28 of 39 for a career-high 382 yards, two TDs, zero interceptions and a 119.8 quarterback rating. He will hope to stay hot next Thursday in a big divisional game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

Justin Jefferson is a cheat code

You already knew this, but it’s worth repeating. Jefferson aired the show on national television Thursday night.

The usually stout Patriots defense had no answer for the Vikings superstar for much of the game. Jefferson immediately made his presence felt and touchdown reception on the opening drive. He made history by breaking Hall of Famer Randy Moss’ record for receiving 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 that set up 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 happened if Jefferson fell one more spot, or if Belichick traded up to get him.



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