Both offenses in this game struggled to convert yardage into points at times, but the New England Patriots were ultimately able to survive a late comeback attempt to beat the Washington Football Team 22-13 in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason.
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Fitzmagic Time in Washington: The first look at Ryan Fitzpatrick only confirmed that he will likely keep up the same level we have seen from him in recent years. Fitzpatrick completed 5-of-8 attempts for 58 yards, including one well-thrown pass lofted up to tight end Logan Thomas for a big gain. He wasn’t able to lead any scoring drives, but one drive ended because his intended receiver Adam Humphries fell coming out of his break on third down, letting down a throw that would have moved the chains and kept the drive going.
A Mac Jones Audition: The first-team offensive line stayed in the game when Mac Jones came in to play quarterback, and when Bill Belichick had a chance to challenge a clear catch to move the chains, he chose to keep his flag in his pocket and bring up the third-down instead. When Jones and the Patriots emerged for the second half, he ran a drive using the hurry-up offense, and he played out the third quarter. This performance seemed set up to scope his command of the offense. And on that front, he was impressive, if unspectacular.
Josh Uche is a chess piece on defense: Josh Uche tallied a couple of pressures and looked pretty effective lined up as an edge defender early on. He then played a second role later in the game, dropping into coverage and playing as a true middle linebacker. Uche played 19 snaps as an edge rusher but then nine more as an off-ball linebacker before appearing to cramp up at the half. Uche was deployed creatively at Michigan in college — will we see more of that from him with the Patriots this year?
Chase Young ready to dominate: We didn’t see much of Chase Young in the game — just 12 snaps on defense — but those snaps featured some pretty special glimpses of the player he might be this season. Young killed a drive with a fantastic pass-rushing rep against left tackle Isaiah Wynn in which he disengaged from the block and beat him to the outside to hit Cam Newton and force the ball loose. It was ultimately called an incomplete pass, but it was very close to the kind of strip-sack that changes the outcome of a game.
Scare for Judon: After 12 impressive snaps, Matthew Judon had a blocker roll into his lower leg. He immediately grabbed for it, hobbling off the field and being examined in the medical tent. Judon returned to the sideline and all seemed well, but it was a reminder that it only takes one play for injury to strike, which is why so many teams are resting their starters.
Rhamondre Stevenson iced it: After surviving a 2-point attempt by Washington to tie the game, the Patriots turned to Rhamondre Stevenson, who turned the corner and ran up the sideline for his second touchdown of the day, this time a 92-yard score. Stevenson put the game to bed and put some impressive touches on tape late in the game.