The Patriots started the season at 2-2, and the entire football world thought that this was the end for the greatest dynasty in history. In response, the Patriots won 11 of their next 12 games and earned the number one seed in the AFC again, their record eighth straight year with a first round playoff bye.
The Patriots took care of business against a Jets team that had surpassed all expectations this season. It wasn’t their cleanest game, but they are certainly not backing into the playoffs like they did in 2013 and 2015.
– Tom Brady broke his interception streak and threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. It wasn’t his cleanest game, with miscommunication and some bad balls leading to a pedestrian first half for the Hall of Fame quarterback. However he was good when it counted, and essentially locked up the MVP award. Brady finished the season with 4500+ yards, 30+ touchdowns, and less than 10 interceptions for the fourth time in his career. No other quarterback has done that more than once.
– Dion Lewis had another game for himself, finishing with 137 yards from scrimmage, as well as a rushing and receiving touchdown. He has been one of the best running backs in football this season, despite not getting the same amount of attention as Todd Gurley and Leveon Bell. He will be a major player for the Patriots in the playoffs, and will be helped by the return of James White and Rex Burkhead.
– Brandon Cooks struggled early on with a key drop and some miscommunication with Tom Brady. However he finished the game strong with five receptions for 79 yards and a score. He deserves a lot of credit for his performance because this was his first time playing in a game with this type of cold weather. After playing in New Orleans for three years, December/January in New England is a whole new beast and it’s good to see him handle the elements.
– The Patriots defense had a lot of success overall, only allowing the Jets 247 total yards, and forcing them to go 0-12 on third down. The pass defense was good enough, and the run defense held the Jets to just 46 yards. While the Pats defense should have had this performance against a weak New York defense, it’s good to see that they did not take their foot off the gas in the final week of the season.
– The Patriots defense did struggle in chunk plays. The Jets had a number of 20+ yard plays, which was a product of bad coverage and miscommunication by the Patriots linebackers and secondary.
– James Harrison played in his first game with New England after signing with the team this past week. He finished with two sacks in the game, which is one more than he had in all the games he played for the Steelers this season.
The Patriots now get a week off as they prepare to defend their Super Bowl title from their frozen fortress in Foxboro.
Until next time – B$