The New England Patriots lost 26-20 to the New York Jets Sunday afternoon.
Here’s how the Patriots graded out in week 16. —
The Patriots were short-handed on Sunday and facing a team with an aggressive defense, eagerly trying to claw their way into the playoffs. While Tom Brady was on the field with Rob Gronkowski, the offense was very limited and it showed throughout the contest.
Going into the game, it was known New York’s third down defense was stout, but the Pats 1-for-10 conversion rate kept the offense out of sync and struggled they to stay on the field.
The unit shied away from passes over the middle, ran more into the teeth of New York’s front seven and it left the Patriots looking totally inept. It was expected to be a tough, cooperative game, but more is expected of this group.
Defense: D –
New England’s defense struggled throughout the game. They gave up three more yards rushing in the first half (92) than in the first contest this season (89), which kept New York balanced and able to control the tempo.
Ryan Fitzpatrick missed some throws early, but was able to find his playmakers down the field topic up chunk yardage. Receiver Brandon Marshall was a force, hauling in 8 passes for 115 yards and two scores on the day.
When the Jets took to the ground, they were chewing up field with ease. The Patriots lost control of their gaps and containment far too often, missing tackles that allowed ball carriers to get up field. A slow and frustrating sight for Pats fans.
It was evident the team missed Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung on the back-end. Dont’a Hightower should have sat out, clearly not at full strength and limping throughout the afternoon.
Special Teams: C+
Special teams were a relative non-factor Sunday. Ryan Allen had a couple of good punts, Stephen Gostkowski nailed both field goals and the return unit had nothing noteworthy.
The silver lining is there were no turnovers or critical errors that have plagued the unit the last month.
This was a battle. New England was trying to manage a banged up roster with their goal of achieving the top seed in the AFC playoff race. On the flip side, New York was fighting for a spot in the post season and caught the Patriots at the right time.
The Patriots offense sputtered, defense struggled and in overtime played a conservative approach that came back to bite them in the end. Give the Jets credit, they made the plays needed to win the game. But at the same time, it’s disappointing the Patriots weren’t able to execute after having an opportunity late in the ball game.
Now, New England must win in week 17 in order to lock up the AFC’s top seed, but are still battling injuries that have been a dark cloud hanging over the team for the majority of the season. It won’t be easy and this outcome will be highly discussed and dissected throughout the week.
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