The Rear View Mirror – Game Sixteen
The Patriots closed out the regular season by beating the New York Jets 26-6 at Gillette Stadium. New York was forced into starting inexperienced, backup quarterback Bryce Petty which partially explains the visitors converting none of their 13 third-downs into a first down.
Lawrence Guy contributed to New York gaining just 40 rushing yards
Photograph by David Silverman/ Patriots.com
Nine Observations from Game Sixteen…
1. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (in on five tackles) was a key to the Patriots’ strong run defense against the Jets. In the 1st quarter Guy tackled RB Bilal Powell (46 yards on 13 carries) at the line of scrimmage in the Jets’ first three-and-out. Later in the 1st, Guy caught RB Elijah McGuire for a big loss at left end to help force a field goal attempt. Both in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, DT Malcom Brown combined with Lawrence Guy to bring Powell down at or behind the line of scrimmage.
2. Former Steeler defensive end James Harrison – who signed with New England this week after being released by Pittsburgh – played nearly half of the defensive snaps and contributed with two quarterback sacks late in the 4th quarter. In the 3rd, Harrison dropped into a zone in the right flat and tackled wide receiver Robby Anderson in the open field to bring up fourth down.
3. Although Jets’ quarterback Bryce Petty (232 yards on 36 attempts) looked overmatched much of the game, he found a way to execute three long pass plays against the Patriots. In the 1st, receiver Jermaine Kearse found a void in the middle of the defense for 22 yards gain. At the start of the 2nd, receiver Neal Sterling got behind LB Elandon Roberts’ middle zone for a 35-yard catch-and-run. In the 4th, receiver ArDarius Stewart ran past Jonathan Jones’ man coverage for a 46 yard completion up the right seam.
4. New England’s defense was being scorched in the first four games of the season, allowing 5.5 big plays and 32 points per game. The defense tightened up in the second (3.5 plays and 13 points) and third quarter (2.3 plays and 11 points) of the season. In the final four games of the season it can argued that the defense lost a little momentum as they allowed 3.5 big plays and 18 points per contest.
Patriots’ fans bundled up for the franchise’s coldest regular season game
5. This otherwise forgettable game will be remembered for being the coldest of the Patriots’ 57 regular seasons. With a temperature of 13 Fahrenheit at kickoff, it eclipsed a 14 degree start against the Miami Dolphins in 1977.
6. It became clear early in the game that New England’s passing offense was being directed to wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. Ignoring tight end Rob Gronkowski (zero targets), Tom Brady directed over half of his targets to Cooks and Amendola (18 total) and had a 90.5 Quarterback Rating when doing so.
7. Two notable failed connections between Brady and Cooks occurred on back-to-back plays in the 1st quarter. First, Brady overthrew Cooks, who had beaten safety Marcus Maye, deep over the middle of the field in the end zone. Then on second down, Cooks dropped the pass on a slip screen with blockers in front of him.
8. New England right tackle Cameron Fleming easily surrendered a third-down sack when New York linebacker David Bass ran right around him to the outside. Tom Brady seemed to give himself up for a second sack after blitzing linebacker Demario Davis over powered RB Brandon Bolden’s block.
9. Impressive running by back Dion Lewis to end the season. He improvised an off-tackle run in the 1st quarter, kicking it around right end and juking corner back Juston Burris for an eight-yard gain. On third-and-one in the 2nd, Lewis side stepped Demario Davis’ run blitz up the middle before fighting through defensive lineman Xavier Cooper’s tackle for the conversion. In the 3rd, Lewis patently waited for TE Dwayne Allen to pick up Demario Davis on the left side, momentarily hid behind the block, and then exploding up the field for a seven yard pickup.
… And one comment about the Division Round.
By going 13-3, and beating the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago, New England has secured the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. Pending the outcome of the Wildcard round, New England could have an interesting match up against Kansas City on January 13th. As we all recall, the Chiefs thoroughly out played the Patriots in the 4th quarter of their season-opening contest in September.