Here are our immediate reactions from the New England Patriots 41-3 win over the New York Jets on Christmas Eve.
QB Tom Brady was in control the entire game
Brady finished the game 17 of 27 (63.0%) for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brady probably could have posted more numbers if not for a bad drop by RB James White and a questionable end zone fade drawn up for WR Julian Edelman. Brady might not win MVP as Falcons QB Matt Ryan has continued to thrive, but Brady played well enough to sit before the end of the third quarter. That should count more than any 4th quarter comeback.
RB LeGarrette Blount could threaten touchdown record
Okay, to be fair, Blount won’t match the 23-touchdown 2007 season by WR Randy Moss, but he recorded his 16th and 17th touchdowns of the year, tying the 17-touchdown 1996 season by RB Curtis Martin. TE Rob Gronkowski is in second place with his 18-touchdown 2011 season.
Curiously enough, the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl for Martin’s 1996 year, Moss’ 2007 season, and Gronkowski’s 2011 season. Hopefully Blount can buck the trend.
WR Julian Edelman is chasing his own receiving yard streak
Edelman collected 5 catches for 89 yards, bringing up his season total to 955 receiving yards and 90 receptions. Edelman might not reach 100 receptions on the season, but he’s clearly found his groove and has been more productive since the bye week (87 yards per game) than he was in his breakout 2015 season (79 yards per game).
In fact, Edelman has recorded 70+ receiving yards in each of the seven games since the bye week. This ties 2014 TE Rob Gronkowski for the 3rd-longest streak in Patriots history. 1986-87 WR Stanley Morgan picked up 70+ yards in eight straight games, but 2014-15 Edelman picked up 70+ yards in nine straight games.
Can Edelman catch his own record?
DT Malcom Brown is in the dog house
Malcom Brown did not take the field until there were just 12 minutes left in the entire game. The Patriots decided to play DT Alan Branch and DT Vincent Valentine for most of the game. Brown declined to comment after the game, according to NESN’s Doug Kyed.
Brown has been the Patriots best run defender all season and he’ll have to be a part of the plan if the Patriots will win when it’s cold outside.
No LB Dont’a Hightower? No problem!
Hightower was a scratch this week due to a knee injury, but the Patriots still found a way to shut down the Jets offense. Rookie LB Elandon Roberts led the Patriots with 11 tackles and forced a key fumble. LB Kyle Van Noy ranked second on the team with 7 tackles. LB Shea McClellin added 2 tackles and a quarterback hit.
The Patriots are clearly a better team with Hightower on the field, but Roberts finally stepped up after his midseason benching.
CB Malcolm Butler is going to be All Pro
Butler tied for the Jets lead in receptions with two catches, matching WR Brandon Marshall and RB Bilal Powell. Butler didn’t record a single tackle on the day, but he picked up two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Butler now has four interceptions on the season and 17 official passes defended. The Jets rarely looked his direction all day.
Butler might be the All Pro cornerback the Patriots have been looking for.
Stephen Gostkowski is back to being reliable
Gostkowski hit all seven of his kick attempts on Saturday and he has connected on 40 of his past 42 kick attempts. More importantly, Gostkowski was kicking down the middle without much ball movement on a windy day. Add in the Jets average starting field position of 22.1 on kickoffs, and Gostkowski is back to being one of the best special teams weapons in the league.
Bill Belichick has won his 200th regular season game with the Patriots
That is all.