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Patriots Notebook: A patchwork offensive line did well

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Sep 11, 2023

The offensive line, patchwork as it was, played well in front of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones on Sunday. (AP photo)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It looked bleak at the start of the game for the New England Patriots on Sunday, and we’re not just talking about the weather.

New England was down two starting linemen, Mike Onwenu and Cole Strange, both nursing injuries.

Against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defensive line, that would seem like a disaster waiting to happen.

But it wasn’t.

“Yeah, I mean look, you’ve got to be at your best at the most crucial moments,” Pats center David Andrews said. “Penalties, different things throught the game – you know, (we have to) clean up.

But we have to be better. That’s kind of on us.”

The Patriots ended up using two rookies, Atonio Mafi and Sidy Sow, to help fill in.

“I think the last time, I guess, that would have happened was 2016 with [Joe] Thuney and [Ted] Karras and then maybe me and Shaq [Mason] in 2015,” Andrews said. “I thought they did a good job. They got a lot of reps all summer, I think that helped them.

“You’ve got to learn the hard way, right? So, you learn by going out there – we all do, right? By taking our licks and bumps, getting beat and things like that. So they’ll have a lot to clean up, we’ll all have a lot to clean up from this game. I’m proud of the way they competed, the way they answered against a really good defensive football team and arguably one of the best fronts in football. But, like I said, we’ve just got to be better when it counts.”

“Credit to them,” Pats veteran lineman Calvin Anderson said of the line. “They are obviously a really talented group. I love the way our guys collected together. We have some really tough minded guys up front and it starts with DA (David Andrews). We’ve got a bunch of tough minded guys ready to get prepared for next week. I’m happy about that and we have to carry it forward.”

But missing players, he said, “is the nature of the offensive line. You have to be able to adapt. … We prepare for that.”


Patriots coach Bill Belichick passed up a chance at a field goal in the third quarter that would have made it a five point game, and toward the end may have been a factor. Instead, the Patriots went for it on fourth and 3 from the 17 and a Jones pass fell incomplete.

“I felt like it was the best decision for the team,” Belichick said. “Made the best decision we could at the time. Didn’t know we would be down there multiple times. Six minutes to go in the game. I don’t know. If we had kicked it, I’m sure you would be asking why didn’t we go for it.”


Eagles coach Nick Siriani said he might re-evaluate not playing his starters in preseason, so they could see a little bit of game action.

“I’ll definitely reevaluate some of the preseason stuff next year,” he said. “You know, I know they played the first two years that we were here, they only played one series against the Jets in 2022. Maybe I should have played him a series or two this preseason.

“You know, second thought, if I had to do it over again right now, I would say, yeah, I would have played starters one or two drives in the preseason. But next year will be a new thing with new situations and new everything, so I’m not worrying about that right now.”


Besides Owenu and Strange, the other inactives were receiver DeVante Parker, corner Shaun Wade, linebacker Anfernee Jennings and defensive lineman Sam Roberts.

Out for the Eagles were quarterback Tanner McKee, running back Rashaad Penny, corners Mario Goodrich and Eli Ricks, OL Tyler Steen, DT Moro Ojomo and tight end Alvert Okwuegbunam.


The Patriots will stay right here at Gillette Stadium and host the Miami Dolphins next Sunday night at 8:25 p.m.


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