While the New York Jets — a 4-12 club that has fired its head coach afterwards — are not exactly a benchmark by which to be measured, the New England Patriots still played an impressive game against their division rivals. When it was all said and done, Bill Belichick’s squad had won 38-3 and secured a first-round playoff bye. Let’s take a look at those who stood out during Sunday’s contest.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
After a string of sub-par performances — at least by his own lofty standard — Tom Brady looked terrific against New York. He was in control of the game from start to finish, looked as comfortable moving in the pocket as he did all year long, and made good decisions throughout the game. All in all, the 41-year old completed 24 of his 33 pass attempts, for 250 yards and four touchdowns. It was vintage Brady.
Winners: The linebackers (Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts)
As a group, New England’s linebackers played one of their best games of the year on Sunday. They were quick to the ball and set the edge well in the running game, produced pressure in the pass rush, blitzed well, and even were productive in downfield coverage. And even though they did not stand out on the stat sheet — Dont’a Hightower had three tackles, Kyle Van Noy had three tackles and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, Elandon Roberts had six tackles — they were instrumental in the Patriots’ defensive dominance.
Winner: DE Trey Flowers
In what might have been his last regular season game as a Patriot, Trey Flowers once again showed why New England has to make him its number one priority heading into free agency. The 25-year old pressured Jets quarterback Sam Darnold on numerous occasions, registered a sack, and forced a fumble. No matter if it was setting a hard edge in the ground game or playing downhill, Flowers stood out — as he has all year long.
Winners: The wide receivers (Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett)
New England’s wide receiver corps had an inconsistent regular season but it was at its best against the Jets: with Tom Brady spreading the football around well, the group saw contributions from every one of its active members: Chris Hogan led the team with six catches for 64 yards, while Julian Edelman had five receptions for 69 and a touchdown. Even Phillip Dorsett got in on the action as the number three option: he caught five passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Winner: CB Stephon Gilmore
While the Jets’ passing game will not get confused with other explosive units in the NFL, it still has some potential around its rookie quarterback. However, New England’s defense shut the group’s aerial attack down — with no player more active than Stephon Gilmore. The Pro Bowler effectively ended two of New York’s drives with pass breakups, both times against his primary assignment Robby Anderson. With Anderson catching just three passes for 24 yards all day, it was the latest in a string of shutdown performances by Gilmore.
Winners: The kick coverage
New York is the NFL’s most dangerous return team, but the Patriots were able to mostly limit the group’s impact. Led by captain Matthew Slater, who had another impressive game, New England allowed talented returnman Andre Roberts to run back just one of four punts — for a gain of zero yards — while also keeping him in check on kickoffs: while Roberts did gain 59 yards, he touched the football just twice as the other four kickoffs either did not sail his way or went for touchbacks.
Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame show! The Patriots finished the regular season strong and cruised to a win over the Jets today, clinching a first round playoff bye in the process. Send us your questions and comments!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 30, 2018