FOXBOROUGH, MASS – After narrowly beating them earlier in the season 22-17, the Patriots come in and leave nothing on the field in a 41-3 rout of the Jets on Christmas Eve. New England came swinging out of the gate, including scoring 27 points in the first half while holding the Jets to no points. Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a 34 yard field goal in the second quarter but would make sure he converts his second attempt in the fourth quarter to make sure this game didn’t end in a shut-out for them. But overall, it was an extremely ugly game for the Jets and continued their downward spiral as they will go into week 17 with a 4-11 record.
The Patriots would have a nice balanced game from their pass and run offense as Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns while LeGarrette Blount would run in a couple of rushing touchdowns today as well. Brady would eventually sit out most of the second half as Jimmy Garoppolo would enter the game with the Patriots nursing a 30+ point lead. He would finish with 214 yards on 17 of 27 passing with the previously mentioned three touchdown passes. He would even find back-up tight end Matt Lengel in the end-zone for his first career catch and touchdown in the NFL. It would be a nice homecoming of sorts for Lengel, who started his college football career playing at near-by Northeastern University.
Martellus Bennett and James White would both catch receiving touchdowns from Brady as contributions came from nearly every play-maker today. White would finish with 32 yards on four receptions and Bennett would have two receptions of his own for 19 yards. Julian Edelman led the way for the Patriots in receiving, leading the team in targets (eight), receptions (five) and yards (89). New Patriot wide receiver Michael Floyd saw himself a couple of targets, including reeling one in for six yards. The home crowd cheered loudly for Floyd as he secured his first career reception as a member of the Patriots. Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan both saw five targets each while combining for 51 yards on four receptions. Dion Lewis would have one catch for five yards while James Develin even caught a pass for zero yards.
The Patriots would find themselves running the ball for 40 times today, including Lewis running it 16 times for a team high 52 yards while Blount ran it 20 times for 50 yards and scoring both rushing touchdowns today. Blount extends his career high single season total to 17 and tying Curtis Martin for the third most touchdowns scored by a Patriots player in a single season. He will have the chance to break that record next weekend against the Dolphins. White would have a lone carry for 14 yards while Garoppolo would have -2 yards on three rushing attempts.
Overall, it was a solid offensive performance from the Patriots with five offensive touchdowns and 325 yards of total offense while playing their back-up quarterback and running the clock down for a good portion of the second half.
The Patriots defense played another incredible game, marking their second straight game with only three points allowed. They forced four turnovers including three interceptions between Bryce Petty and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Petty would only attempt three passes including his interception before being forced to leave the game with a left shoulder injury. Fitzpatrick would come in and throw for 136 yards and two interceptions on eight of 21 throwing. The Patriots would get two sacks on the Jets with Chris Long getting one along with Jabaal Sheard and Alan Branch both contributing on the second one.
Malcolm Butler had a career game (outside of his Super Bowl 49 interception, of course) with two interceptions and also recovering a fumble. That fumble was caused by rookie Elandon Roberts where he laid in a terrific hit on Jets running back Khiry Robinson. Eric Rowe would have the other interception, which he secured on a terrific play including his leaping in the air to get the pick.
The Patriots run defense was probably the only aspect of their team that didn’t look “perfect” today as they allowed 111 yards on 29 carries (3.8 yards per carry). Bilal Powell led the way with 15 attempts for 60 yards, playing in place of injured starter Matt Forte. Powell was off to a hot start with 47 yards on eight carries before finishing with 13 yards over his last seven attempts. Robinson finished with eight carries for 22 yards including his fumble. Fourth-string running back Brandon Wilds saw some action today as well with 14 yards on four carries. While they gave up over 100 yards on the ground, most of their yards came with the Jets trailing by a lot.
An interesting note to make is that starting defensive tackle Malcom Brown did not see the field until the fourth quarter of today’s game. Rookie Vincent Valentine would see most of the work opposite Alan Branch in his place. When asked about it after the game, Bill Belichick summed it up as saying it was a “coach’s decision”. It is worth noting that Brown did miss time last week against the Broncos with a “stomach” injury but also was not on the team’s injury report at all this week. It’ll be interesting to see if Brown goes back to his regular playing time next week in the season finale against the Dolphins.
Another point to mention is that late in the second quarter, the Patriots had the ball in their own territory before the Jets would call their first time-out of the half with less than a minute left to go. The Patriots seem to have changed their game-plan after that, throwing deep to Edelman. He would draw a defensive pass interference of 47 yards, pushing the Patriots into the Jets 25 yard line before Brady would find White for a touchdown on the next play. That would also open up for the Patriots to start the second half with the football while having a 27-0 lead.
With this victory, Belichick is now one of five NFL coaches in history with 200 regular season victories. He joins George Halas, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry in this exclusive group. It probably couldn’t have happened in a better game in a blow-out against a division opponent at home on Christmas Eve. The Patriots will head into their regular season finale with a 13-2 record facing the Dolphins. They will also hope to finish with a perfect record on the road (currently 7-0) with a win in Miami next weekend. But for now, they will celebrate the holidays with a big win over the Jets.
From all of us here at ESPN New Hampshire, we want to wish everyone happy holidays!