By: Denny Hackett
After a tightly-contested first three quarters, the Patriots pulled away from the Jets in the fourth quarter to win 27-13.
Tom Brady added another accolade to his hall of fame career on Sunday when he passed Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history, including the postseason. Brady only needed 147 yards to pass Manning’s 79,279 but finished the day with 283, bringing his career total to 79,416.
This season has been full of achievements for Brady, including reaching the 500 touchdown pass mark against the Indianapolis Colts earlier in the year.
After Rob Gronkowski missed the Patriots’ last two games, he finally returned to the field on Sunday versus the Jets. Early in the game, Gronk made his presence known by grabbing his first touchdown since the first game of the season against the Jets. In addition to the touchdown, Gronkowski finished the day with 56 yards on three catches.
Gronk also did an excellent job blocking in both the running and passing games, including two huge plays on a third quarter scoring drive. First, he set up a 27-yard rush for James White by setting a block on the edge to give him space to get outside. Then on the touchdown pass to Julian Edelman he was able to keep a Jets’ linebacker occupied while Edelman ran into the endzone.
One thing that made the game nearly unwatchable was the amount of penalty flags being thrown against both squads. Shawn Hochuli’s officiating crew ranks first in the amount of penalty flags thrown per game and they proved it on Sunday. By the middle of the second quarter the Patriots already had a season-high in penalties with six, and the Jets were not far behind with four of their own. All day it felt like there were unnecessary interruptions in the game because of penalties. However, in some cases the Patriots did shoot themselves in the foot with stupid mistakes.
A second quarter drive was brought to a screeching halt after two first down runs were brought back because of penalties. James White rushed for a first down and more but that run was called back on a holding and a rush for Sony Michel was brought back after a chop block.
Injuries also began to mount for the Patriots throughout the day. Before the game, Brady had been dealing with an illness and a knee injury during the week. In the second quarter, he was cut on his throwing hand. On the next drive Julian Edelman was also hobbled after going up for a ball from Brady and landing awkwardly on his elbow but was able to continue playing without getting any treatment on it. However, Sony Michel appeared to suffer a serious injury after being bent backwards and suffering a hit to the head by two Jets’ players on a third quarter rush. Surprisingly enough, Michel returned to play during the Patriots’ first drive in the fourth quarter, and announced his return with a 33-yard run.
The Patriots’ run game was excellent against the Jets and Sony Michel stood out in particular. For the third time this season the rookie broke the 100-yard rushing mark in the win and finished with 133 yards and one touchdown on the day. Overall, the Patriots’ rushing attack finished with 215 yards, the largest rushing total since Jonas Gray ran for 199 yards against the Colts back in 2014.
Throughout the entire game, the Jets were able to move the ball up and down the field against the Patriots’ defense. However, the defense was able to make stops when it mattered most, by preventing the Jets from scoring touchdowns and forcing field goals instead. One area of concern for the defense was the relative lack of pressure up front.
The Patriots finished with just two sacks and had trouble even getting in McCown’s face to disrupt his throws. In one of the few instances the Patriots got to McCown, they forced him to throw an interception. When the Patriots could get to the quarterback, it paid dividends for the defense. However, the Patriots need to develop some sort of consistency in the pass rush if they want to go deep into the playoffs this year.
Next week the Patriots welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Foxborough in a cross-conference battle on Sunday, Dec. 2.