One of the New England Patriots’ pass rushers is tied for the league lead in sacks, yet it was a different player who got three sacks in their 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.
Josh Uche had three sacks and a couple pressures in New England’s win, continuing his dominant stretch which has seen him record 10 sacks over the Patriots’ last six games.
The play from the third-year linebacker certainly seems to be a bit of a breakthrough as the 2020 second-round pick has been viewed as a potential breakout player in each of the last two seasons. However, Uche hasn’t lived up to the hype until the recent stretch, recording only three sacks from the beginning of the 2021 season through the first seven games of this season.
Matthew Judon, who leads the league with 14.5 sacks, got another chance to brag about his pass-rushing mate, who he has praised on a constant basis since he came to New England in 2021.
“I told y’all I wasn’t the best pass rusher,” Judon said. “Our best pass rusher is emerging. People are going to have to block him. If they don’t and they chip my side and they worry about me, Uche will do that every week. I just love the way he’s playing with confidence and poise. This is the most he’s played since he’s been in the NFL, so it’s taking a toll on him, but he’s going out there and he’s having a lot of success.”
Josh Uche, SACK, sinistro… 3ª dele hoje! #NFLBrasil
📺: @ESPNBrasil#NFLnaESPN pic.twitter.com/Eeb3P6BhO5
— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) December 13, 2022
Uche told ClutchPoints following his three-sack performance against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9 that he always had confidence in himself to have games like he had on Monday night. Following the Patriots’ win over the Cardinals, Uche recognized the rough stretch he had to get through in order to have the dominant stretch of play he has had over the last month-plus, crediting teammates such as Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr.
“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been through a lot of adversity and just leaning back on my faith, my family, my teammates, my girl, my parents, everybody,” Uche said. “Just leaning back on them and them just helping me stay up. Judon, he has been a blessing in my life. That’s big bro, and I don’t know where I’d be without him and the rest of the guys, ‘D-Wise’ and my boy Anfernee [Jennings], my locker mate. Those guys we just feed off of each other. They’re just a great group of guys in the locker room.”
All three of Uche’s sacks certainly seemed timely, but arguably his biggest play of the night came when he was a split-second too late from sacking Colt McCoy. He hit the Cardinals quarterback as he tried to launch a pass down the field to an open DeAndre Hopkins, which caused McCoy’s pass to fall short and end up in the arms of rookie corner Marcus Jones for an interception.
Uche shared he loves to make plays like that, where he’s able to get a hit on the quarterback.
“It’s something where everybody just has to do their job and whoever gets there, gets there,” Uche said. “We make sure that we’re executing our assignments and if they come, they come and if not it is what it is as long as we get the job done.”
Pressure from Josh Uche gifts Patriots rookie Marcus Jones with his first career interception.
The third-round pick out of Houston is making an impact on offense, defense, and special teams on MNF. pic.twitter.com/VFyLmGxh5I
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) December 13, 2022
Uche’s performance was a big reason why the Patriots improved to 7-6, putting them in the final playoff spot in AFC with four games to go. He recognized that every game at this point is a “must-win game” and that he “put everything I got” into Monday’s win, though he’s also not trying to focus on the big playoff picture, either.
“We’re focused on the next game and we’re going to handle that when we handle that,” Uche said.
Josh Uche and the Patriots take on the Las Vegas Raiders next in hopes to improve to 8-6.