Pats Freeze out Jets In Season Finale, Lock Up AFC’s Top Spot
The New England Patriots concluded their 2017 regular season slate with a convincing, 26-6 win over the New York Jets in frigid temperatures at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Home-Field Advantage- The win clinched the top seed in the AFC for the Patriots, giving them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. New England, who already clinched a first-round bye, now has complete control of the AFC playoff picture. They'll be at home in two weekends, to battle the lowest seed remaining in the divisional round of play.
Given Opportunities- The Pats were given multiple first downs by the Jet defense, throughout the game. Six of New England's 28 total first downs came as a result of penalties called on the New York defense. It's tough to play competitive games, when you gift your opponent more than a handful of free first downs.
TB12 Gets It Done- In the freezing whether, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did his best to lead his team to victory for the 13th time this season. Brady, who secured his 25th career win over the Jets on Sunday, wasn't stellar, but did enough to guide his team to the top seed in the conference. The 40-year-old threw for 190 yards and two scores, while completing 18 of his 37 pass attempts on the day. Brady was pulled midway through the fourth quarter, capping his regular season totals and 4,577 yards with 32 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. That's a heck of a year for a guy in his 17th season under center. It's also one that will likely yield him his third league MVP award.
Another Dominant Day For Dion- It was another dominant day for Patriots running back Dion Lewis, as the shifty, dual threat back carried the load for New England on Sunday. With James White, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee all inactive due to injuries, Lewis saw his highest snap count of the season and his career, Sunday, and played well once again. A week after rushing for a career-high 129 yards in the team's win over Buffalo, Lewis fell just short of the 100-yard mark on the ground for a second straight week. The tough-as-nails speedster carried the ball 26 times for 93 yards and added another 40 yards on six catches. That adds up to an impressive 133 yards from scrimmage on 32 touches, including both a rushing and receiving score.
Harrison Has A Day- After getting cut late last week by his longtime team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker James Harrison, who was shortly-after signed by the Pats, got his first real game action in a while on Sunday. The veteran pass-rush threat, who played just 40 total snaps with the Steelers this season, played well over half of that total for New England, even getting mixed in on special teams a handful of times. Harrison recorded five tackles on the day, including two sacks on the Jets' final drive. The first of the two sacks was a strip sack, as well.
No Gronk, No Problem- While tight end Rob Gronkowski was healthy and active for the Patriot offense on Sunday, the All-Pro weapon was not targeted once on the day. With the jets double covering him for most of his snaps, Brady chose to look elsewhere, to other open options. Gronkowski also sat out most of the second half, not because of any injury, but likely just in an effort to keep him out of harm's way in a game the Pats had complete control of.
The Pats now set their sights on another Super Bowl run, which will get under way in two weeks. It is unclear whom they will host in the divisional round, but it is definite that whatever team it is will have to enter Gillette Stadium to take on the Pats. 13-3 is another tremendous feat for a team that struggled out of the gate to a 2-2 record, through the first month of the campaign. Just three wins stand between the Pats and a sixth Super Bowl ring. The "Blitz for 6" is in full effect.