Week 12 Review: Patriots escape with a close victory

In the always-entertaining divisional game between the Patriots and Jets, this one proved to be another hard fought game between two rivals. This game was fought right up until the end of the fourth quarter, the same game that we’d see Tom Brady win his 200th game as a starting quarterback and also surpass 60,000 career passing yards. Brady is now tied with Peyton Manning for the most wins all-time among quarterbacks and is only the fifth quarterback to throw for at least 60,000 yards in their career. While the Patriots came out of this with a win, it wasn’t an easy or good-looking win either.

Brady finished with a respectable 286 yards and two touchdowns on 30 of 50 passing. The 50 pass attempts were a season high for Brady while his 5.72 yards per attempt and 89.2 passer rating were season lows. Going up against a near-elite Jets front four, Brady found himself under pressure often early on despite the Jets not getting an official sack on him. He came into this game with a questionable tag as he had been dealing with a knee injury for a few weeks now. He certainly looked hobbled at times but appears to have come out of this game with no new issues or re-injury.

Eight different players from the Patriots had receptions while ten saw at least one target in this game. Leading the way was the team’s top three wide receivers in Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Edelman saw a team-high 11 targets while corralling in eight of those targets for 83 yards. Hogan also made some big plays, going for 70 yards on four receptions. Mitchell had another great game, finishing with 42 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. That is now three touchdown receptions over the past two games for Mitchell, including scoring both touchdowns today while being covered by once-elite, ex-Patriot Darrelle Revis. Dion Lewis had four receptions for 33 yards on seven targets while fellow running back James White had the second most targets on the team (nine) with four receptions and 22 yards.

In a game where Rob Gronkowski either didn’t play or was non-existent (due to injury), Martellus Bennett only had three receptions for 22 yards on five targets. To be fair, Bennett suffered an ankle injury (unknown if related to ankle issue coming into this game) and was noticeably limited after coming back in. Danny Amendola and James Develin both had one reception each for eight and five yards, respectfully. The big news here is Gronkowski, who left during the first half of the game with a back injury and did not return. Gronkowski’s prior back injuries cause this new one to raise some concern. He has undergone two back surgeries since college. As of this writing, there is no word on Gronkowski’s status. Overall, it was perhaps an underwhelming performance for the Patriots passing offense overall against one of worst pass defenses in the league.

The Patriots didn’t make much noise in the run game either. LeGarrette Blount ran the ball only 11 times for 67 yards (which in partially inflated due to a 23 yard run he had on the second to last play of the game) while Lewis ran the ball six times for 24 yards. Bennett had a four yard run while Brady ran for -4 yards on three attempts. This marks only the third game this season that Blount did not score a touchdown as he came into today with the league lead in rushing touchdowns (12). The Patriots finished with a respectable 93 yards rushing on 21 attempts. Despite that, the run game did not seem to have much of an impact today, which is understandable against the Jets. They had been only giving up 85.4 rushing yards per game coming into today (fourth in the NFL).

The Patriots didn’t give up much to the Jets defense, who recorded no sacks against them today. The Jets walked away securing no turnovers while accumulating on two tackles for loss, three pass deflections and four quarterback hits. The Patriots also only had two penalties called against them all day. Overall, while the Patriots may not have had one of the most impressive displays on offense, they didn’t make many mistakes as well.

For the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick came into today tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown (13) and 28th out of 33 among qualifying leaders in passing yards per game (220). Against the Patriots, Fitzpatrick didn’t throw any interceptions while finishing with 269 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall led the way for Fitzpatrick and the Jets passing offense. Enunwa made some impressive plays, securing all five of targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Marshall was involved early but didn’t make much noise in the second half, finishing with six receptions on 67 yards and a touchdown on a team-high nine targets. Besides Enunwa and Marshall except Matt Forte (three) had more than two receptions, combining for a total of 11 receptions, 93 yards and no touchdown between the rest of the Jets play-makers.

The Jets did not have a good day running the ball, finishing with only 64 yards on 23 attempts as a team. Bilal Powell finished with 36 yards on eight attempts while Forte had only 27 yards on 13 runs. Fitzpatrick would finish with one yard on two attempts as well. Impressively, the Patriots gave up no more than seven yards on a sole running play in this game. The Patriots had been allowing 103.1 rushing yards entering today, so this was a strong showing against one of the better running back duos in the league in Forte and Powell. The Jets came into today averaging 335.3 total yards of offense while New England allowed them 333, so the Patriots didn’t necessarily have the worst game of the season defensively.

The Patriots accumulated only one sack and had no interceptions but did grab two fumble recoveries. Both were impressive as one was a strip by Malcolm Butler on Robby Anderson after a reception and the other being a strip sack by Chris Long late in the game. Other than Long’s strip-sack, the Patriots had no sacks and only one quarterback hit. The Patriots again often dropped eight or nine players in coverage and rushing only two or three players, as they have done quite a bit this season. Logan Ryan led the way with two pass deflections/break-ups with Eric Rowe picking up the other one. The Patriots came into this game giving up only 18 points per game and gave up 17 to the Jets, so they still had a solid game defensively.

Overall, this wasn’t perhaps the best game on either side of the ball for the Patriots, but they came out with the win against a division rival. They are 9-2 and will head back to Foxboro for a week 12 game against the 4-7 Rams.

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