Patriots vs. Jets final score: 3 things we learned from the Pats’ escape from New York
The Patriots secured a first-round bye for the playoffs, but it wasn’t easy.
The New York Jets have sparingly been competitive this season, except when they have faced the New England Patriots. The Jets fought hard Sunday but couldn’t quite complete a major upset as the Patriots escaped New York with a 17-16 win and go back to New England in good shape to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the postseason.
The Jets’ defense put the team in prime position to win. The Patriots managed just 231 total yards on the day, and held Tom Brady to 182 yards through the air on 23 of 35 passing. The Jets forced an interception with pressure in the fourth quarter, but the offense bogged down just outside the red zone. A 52-yard field goal attempt by Nick Folk that would have given the Jets a late lead fell short.
After regaining possession, the Patriots were able to grind out the clock. Brady hit Danny Amendola on a third-and-7 early in the drive for what was arguably one of the biggest plays on a day that was starved for offense.
Three things we learned:
1) This is what the Jets imagined they would look like
This has not been a good season for the Jets. Even a win over the Patriots could not have washed away the fact that this was a failed season. But for three and a half hours it was encouraging to see what the Jets were supposed to be. Geno Smith and the running game complemented one another nicely. Percy Harvin, Jeremy Kerley and Eric Decker were all involved in the offense in relatively equal and effective measure. And most importantly for Rex Ryan, the defense was ferocious. Tom Brady was sacked four times and pressured constantly.
It’s nice to know that behind the veneer of a three-win team, there was something decent. That’s not much consolation for Ryan, but it’s something.
2) The Patriots still have a dearth of receivers
The Patriots were without Julian Edelman, and the impact was huge. Brady’s passing targets were dropping passes even when they managed to get open. This fourth quarter interception, which glanced off the hands of Brandon LaFell, threatened to turn momentum in favor of the Jets for good.
On a day when Edelman was hurt and Rob Gronkowski was quiet, the Patriots could not get another receiver to step up. That could be a bad sign for the upcoming playoffs.
3) Geno Smith has potential
Smith wasn’t spectacular, but he was steady — going 17 of 27 for 210 yards, one score and one pick — and that’s impressive against the Patriots’ defense. At times this season, it seemed that as soon as something went wrong, Smith crumbled. He stayed poised throughout Sunday’s game and kept the Jets in a position to win until the very end.
Smith couldn’t make the plays that the Jets needed Sunday, but if he had played like he did this week earlier in the season, one has to wonder how many more wins the Jets might have had.