After 17 weeks of regular season play, New England was able to wrap up with a record of 13-3. Last Sunday pitted the Patriots against the Jets for the second time this season; with a similar outcome. More of the team was utilized, giving way to more good plays as well as mishaps.
Without a doubt, Dion Lewis’ play keeps getting better and better. The running back ended the game with a new career high 26 carries for 93 yards, 6 catches for 40 yards, 2 touchdowns, and multiple first down conversions. His athleticism is nearly impossible to top. Lewis sidestepped tackles and bounced away from defenders with ease. He plays with a patience that takes most running backs their entire career to develop. During one play, Lewis got the handoff from Brady but realized he was too quick and the hole hadn’t formed yet, so he waited behind an offensive lineman then jumped through as soon as the line opened up. Another quality of Lewis’ that shouldn’t go unnoticed is his second effort. The running back is always weaving, dodging, and extending to get the maximum amount of yardage on every play.
Matt Patricia’s defense gave a solid performance on Sunday. James Harrison, who was recently acquired from Pittsburgh, showed good numbers with 5 tackles, 2 sacks for -10 yards, 1 tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hits, and 1 forced fumble. Marquis Flowers and Eric Lee also had a sack each on Bryce Petty; Lee’s tackle happened to result in a safety. Jonathan Jones had 3 tackles as well as an additional 2 on special teams. Collectively, these statistics speak for themselves: the defense is improving and just in time for the postseason.
Finally, Danny Amendola’s quiet presence was put to use against New York. Amendola had 4 receptions for 43 yards and a couple of first downs. The wide receiver hasn’t been a focal target for Brady, but his reliability still continues to provide the quarterback with a sense of relief and support. In fact, his calm composure added to the Patriots steady set of offensive drives.
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For the first time all season, Brandin Cooks’ name falls on this list instead of the other one. Cooks didn’t have a bad game whatsoever, but he did have one bad drive. In the first quarter, Cooks dropped a pass, but a flag allowed the Patriots to continue with a fresh set of downs. Then Brady looked long to Cooks in the end zone, who slowed down thinking he wasn’t going to get the ball. Following this mishap, Brady targeted him for a regular catch which the receiver dropped. It wasn’t a bad pass, in fact, it hit him right in the numbers; he just dropped it. New England was forced to punt away the ball solely because of Cooks. However, he did finish up with 3 carries for 8 yards, 5 receptions for 79 yards, and 1 touchdown. Overall not a bad game at all.
The Offensive Line had its bad moments throughout the game but overall their play wasn’t terrible. On a handful of occasions, they gave Brady more than enough time to launch the ball long downfield. The line was breached fewer times than previously this season, but small improvements to solidify the line still need to be made. Brady was sacked 2 times for -12 yards and hit a separate 5 recorded times. Hopefully, the right changes are made before the playoffs.
The entire Secondary has work to do before the playoffs. Jonathan Jones had a good tackle on a Jets’ punt return while being blocked, but then later in the game, he received a flag for illegal blocking. Then in the fourth quarter, Jones was beaten long for a 46 yard New York pickup, which ended up being the longest reception of the night. Devin McCourty was beaten for first downs, and almost had an interception; he just dropped the ball. Johnson Bademosi was awarded a personal foul, but Jones’ penalty was accepted instead. He also missed his opportunity to draw a flag from the referees after a Jets player spiked the ball out of bounds which hit Bademosi in the face. This group certainly has the most to work on.
The Patriots have a first-round bye going into the playoffs, and with their win, on Sunday they secured home-field advantage in round 2. Their first opponent is yet to be determined, but if New England is on their game it won’t matter who they go up against.
–Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. She covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen