FOXBOROUGH — Kyle Van Noy has had a memorable year, and capped an impressive regular season with a touchdown Sunday against the Jets.
Van Noy and defensive lineman Adam Butler (as well as a few other teammates) combined for this week’s edition of the #StayCovered Defensive Play of the Game, making a key play in the second half of Sunday’s game to secure the win. Butler sacked Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, and appeared to be one of a few guys who knocked the ball away. Van Noy was the guy on the spot, scooping up the fumble and dashing 46 yards for the touchdown.
“Kyle's fumble return was a big place for us,” said Bill Belichick, “and kind of gave us a little bit of a cushion there in the second half.”
At the start of the third quarter, the Jets were trailing 21-3, but were sitting at the Patriots’ 49-yard line with (relatively) good field position. Darnold dropped back and looked downfield, but he ended up running into trouble.
“Darnold, he’s known for making plays on his feet or extending plays, (and) our cornerbacks did a great job of covering and making sure he couldn’t throw it,” Butler said. “The defensive ends did a great job of containing him and making sure he couldn’t roll out. He came back into my area and Trey (Flowers) got him around his feet. The pocket closed really quickly, and he had no choice but to throw it. So I just stuck my hand out and got a piece of it, and we were rolling.”
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) December 30, 2018
It marked Van Noy’s second touchdown of the season. He returned a blocked punt 29-yards for a touchdown at Chicago Oct. 21, and is the first Patriots player with two non-offensive touchdowns since Kyle Arrington scored two in 2014 when he returned a fumble for a score on Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati and a blocked field goal for a touchdown on Dec. 14 vs. Miami.
“I love this,” Van Noy said after the win, which clinched a first-round bye and an 11-5 record for the Patriots. “This is good and this is everything to me. I love playing in the playoffs. Anytime you get a chance to play for a championship it is huge. There are other teams that are going home so you cannot take the wins for granted.”
While Butler got the sack and Van Noy got the touchdown, Belichick made sure to take note of the pressure generated by Flowers.
“Trey's given us great play all year,” Belichick said. “He's a tough matchup guy. He played left end and he also played inside today as he does in most games. He can match up on the tackles. He can match up on the guards and centers and that gives us some flexibility with some other players as well. He's had a tremendous year for us and he always does a tremendous job.
“Nobody works harder than Trey does,” Belichick added. “His toughness, his durability, his consistency and his ability to play the running game, the passing game and to play it in different positions – you don't see a lot of guys on the defensive line but he's done it and he's done it well and it's certainly helped our overall defense as well as whatever spot he plays. His ability to have versatility and move helps us in other ways too. He does a great job for us.”