The New England Patriots bounced back in style from their blowout loss in Tennessee: the team defeated the New York Jets 27-13 on the road and now sits at 8-3 and the second overall playoff seed in the AFC thanks to a solid all-around effort. Let’s take a look at who stood out during the contest — for better or for worse.
Winner: TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski was back on the football field for the first time in almost a month, and he had a good comeback performance. While his receiving numbers may not be spectacular — the 29-year old caught three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown —, he looked much improved moving in the open field. Furthermore, he was his usual standout self as a pass protector and a road grader in the running game. New England’s 200+ rushing yards also happened because of Gronkowski paving the way.
Winner: FB James Develin
He did not touch the football even once during yesterday’s game but Develin was still one of its standout performers. Arguably the NFL’s best fullback, he played a key role in a Patriots running game that attempted 35 rushes — compared to just 31 pass plays. Without Develin paving the way on the ground, New England likely would not have been able to gain 216 yards. Another Pro Bowl-worthy performance by the 30-year old.
Winner: RB Sony Michel
Despite missing some snaps with a dangerously-looking injury, Michel had an impressive performance. The first-round rookie carried the football 21 times for 133 yards and a touchdown and offered a serious threat on the ground. Michel ran hard, kept his legs working through contact and displayed tremendous vision to get to the second level. It is clear that the entire Patriots offense is a different beast when the 23-year old is on the field.
Loser: Team discipline
Of course, the officiating crew around referee Shawn Hochuli is the most flag-happy in all of the NFL. New England getting penalized 11 times for 105 yards — both season-highs — is therefore not that big of a coincidence, despite the team usually being among the best at avoiding flags. That being said, the team did not look perfectly prepared to deal with Hochuli and company calling the contest.
Winner: P Ryan Allen
When head coach Bill Belichick took the podium after the game, the first player he mentioned by name was Ryan Allen — and for good reason: the 28-year old played a big role in the field position battle and finished the day with four kicks for an average of 46.0 yards and a net of 40.8. Furthermore, the veteran was able to limit the impact of talented Jets returnman Andre Roberts. The NFL’s leader in yards per punt return entering the game had only a single runback for one yard.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
After three comparatively quiet weeks heading into the bye, Brady had a very good performance against the Jets. The stats tell one part of the story — he completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 283 yards and two touchdowns — but not all of it: despite hurting his thumb in the second quarter, the 41-year old spread the football around well and displayed pin-point accuracy, made smart decisions, and was in command from start to finish. It may not have been spectacular, but it was certainly a strong showing by Brady.
Loser: CB Jonathan Jones
With Duke Dawson inactive, the Patriots turned to Jonathan Jones to man the slot and he had a down game. The 25-year old, who is in the middle of an otherwise very good season, was beat multiple times by Jermaine Kearse and also gave up the game’s first touchdown when the veteran receiver beat him on an in-cut from the slot. Later during the game, New England turned to undrafted rookie J.C. Jackson to cover Kearse.
Loser: Red zone offense
The Patriots scored 27 points and registered their biggest win in the Meadowlands since 2012’s Thanksgiving day classic. However, the victory could have been an even bigger one had New England performed better in the red zone: of the team’s three trips inside the Jets’ 20-yard line, only one was converted into a touchdown. On the other two occasions, the Patriots had to settle for field goals. It did not cost them, but against better competition is something to improve.
Winner: Offensive line
With Shaq Mason back in the lineup after a two-game absence, the Patriots’ offensive line had a dominant performance against a solid Jets front-seven. Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Mason and Marcus Cannon were strong against the pass rush and kept Tom Brady clean for most of the day. The unit’s more impressive performance came in the running game, though: not counting a kneel-down by Brady to end the game, the Patriots had 216 yards and a touchdown on the ground for a spectacular 6.2 yards per attempt.
Winner: CB Stephon Gilmore
After a terrible game versus the Tennessee Titans and talented wideout Corey Davis, Gilmore was back to being a true shutdown cornerback against the Jets. The second-year Patriot finished the day with and interception and two pass breakups and showed why his performance two weeks ago was an outlier: the 28-year old once again looked like one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.
Patriots Nation! - Tune in now for the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, November 25, 2018