Ryan L. Fox
On the final day of the year 2017, the New England Patriots hosted their divisional rival, the New York Jets, on the final day of the 2017 NFL Season. Already having clenched the AFC East division and the #1 AFC Playoff Spot, one would think that the Patriots had nothing left to play for. However there was one thing left to play for: pride. Nothing worse than going into the postseason with the stench of a loss hanging in the air. So when the Jets came to Gillette, the Patriots did what the always did: take care of business.
New England got the ball to start the game at their own 25-yard line. From the Patriots drove the ball down the field with RB Dion Lewis and WR Danny Amendola getting the bulk of the work load. This also included a 7-yard catch by Amendola on 4th and 2 on the Jets 21 to help continue the drive. New England got all the way down to the 3-yard line of the Jets. Then on 1st and goal, Lewis pushed his way into the end zone for the game’s first score to give his team an early 7-0 lead.
After the two teams traded punts with one another, the Jets got the ball back on their own 18. They began their two big plays of 20+ yards each. First was a pass from QB Bryce Petty to WR Jevon Kearse for 22 yards to the Jets 40 and then a 24-yard run by RB Bilal Powell to the New England 36. After giving up a 15-yard pass from Bryce to backup TE Neal Sterling to the New England 21, the Patriots defense forced the Jets back to the 30-yard line. There, the Jets had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by K Chandler Catanzaro to make it 7-3.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Jets got the ball back with 26 seconds left in the first quarter and had possession of it as the second quarter began. On 2nd and 10 from the Jets 14, Petty connected with Sterling for a 35-yard pass to the Jets 49. During the same play, Petty was hit late by Patriots DT Malcolm Brown and drew a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. The penalty was enforced after the end of the play, giving the Jets 1st and 10 from the New England 36. The Jets ended up driving all the way down to the New England 22 where the drive stalled out yet again and had to settle for a 40-yard field goal. However Catanzaro missed it wide left as the score still was 7-3.
After the team exchanged punts with each other, New England got the ball back on their 27. After 2 straight incompletions, QB Tom Brady’s pass to WR Brandin Cooks fell incomplete on 3rd and 10 and it seemed that the Patriots were going to have to punt. However on that play, Jets CB Justin Burris drew a defensive holding call that gave the Patriots an automatic first down. A few plays later, the Jets drew another penalty as FS Marcus Maye was called for pass interference on Cooks at the Jets 17. The ball was placed there as four plays later, Brady found Cooks for a 5-yard hook up to give his team a 14-3 lead as well as give Brady his 550th touchdown pass all-time.
After forcing the Jets to punt, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 42 with 2 minutes left in the half. They were able to drive all the way down the field down to the Jets 31. The drive seemingly stalled there as it looked like they would have to settle for a Stephan Gostkowski field goal. However on 3rd and 5, Burris committed another defensive holding penalty that helped extend the Patriots’ drive. The Patriots drove all the way down to the Jets 5 and with 24 seconds left in the half, Brady found Lewis for another touchdown to give the Patriots a 21-3 lead going into halftime.
The second half opened up with the teams basically exchanging punts with one another for their first few possessions. The Patriots couldn’t move the ball past their own 20 and the Jets couldn’t move the ball into Patriots territory.
It wasn’t until under 8 minutes left in the corner where the Patriots mounted a sustainable drive. Lewis carried the rock 6 times for 32 yards on the drive as the Patriots drove all the way own to the Jets 3. However they ended up stalling as on 3rd and goal from the 3, Brady’s pass to Cooks fell incomplete. Gostkowski booted a 21-yard field goal as the Patriots lead extended to 24-3 with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
Then from the end of the 3rd quarter to the beginning of the 4th quarter, the two teams exchanged punts with one another. This included a drive where the Patriots got down to the Jets 24 but got an intentional grounding call on 3rd and 7, backing them up to the Jets 34 where they were forced to punt.
The Jets then got the ball back pinned down on their own 4. On their first play, Petty was hit late by Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore as Gilmore drew the 15-yard roughing the passer penalty call. The Jets got the breathing room they needed as the ball was moved to their 19-yard line. Then on the next play, Petty hit WR ArDarius Stewart for a 46-yard pass down to the Patriots 35. From there, the Jets got all the way down to the New England 17. But the drive stalled out as they ended up settling for a Catanzaro 35-yard field goal (which a lot of people were asking why at this point) to make it 24-6.
After forcing a New England punt, the Jets again got the ball back at their own 4-yard line. But instead of a big play, disaster struck. On 3rd and 7 from their own 7, Petty dropped back for a pass. However he made a costly error in going back into the end zone to avoid the rush. The result was DE Eric Lee sacking him in the end zone for a safety, giving the Patriots a 26-6 lead.
The Patriots got the ball back on the ensuing free kick and began their next drive at their own 29. However Brady was taken out of the game as backup QB Brian Hoyer took over. Hoyer drove the offense up to the New England 44 and even though the Patriots punted, they took off over 2 minutes off the clock.
Desperate for some form of offense, the Jets tried to make one last drive. With no timeouts remaining, the Jets drove all the way to the New England 39. However on first down, Petty was sacked by newly acquired Pats LB James Harrison back to the New England 48. Then on the ensuing play, Petty again was sacked by Harrison at the New England 49 as time ran out to give the Patriots their 13th win of the season.
Top Patriot Performers
QB Tom Brady: 18-for-37 for 190 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT for QB rating of 82.0
RB Dion Lewis: 26 carries for 93 yards and 1 TD, 6 catches for 40 yards and 1 TD
WR Brandin Cooks: 5 catches for 79 yards and 1 TD, 3 carries for 8 yards
K Stephen Gostkowski: 1-for-1 on FG, 3-for-3 on XP for a total of 6 points
P Ryan Allen: 8 punts for 338 yards (42.3 avg), 5 downed inside the 20
DE Eric Lee: 1 tackle (0 solo, 1 assist), 1.0 sacks, 1 Safety
DE Lawrence Guy: 5 tackles (3 solo, 2 assists)
LB James Harrison: 3 tackles (1 solo, 2 assists), 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
FS Devin McCourty: 8 tackles (8 solo, 0 assists)
Another ‘Patriots Controversy’
Going into this game, one of the more intriguing storylines was the recent new addition to the team in the former of former Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals LB James Harrison. A potential Hall of Fame candidate, Harrison saw his playing time in Pittsburgh drop off significantly from 2016 to 2017. He played in less than 15 snaps in 5 games and was then waived by the team.
The Patriots picked him up off of waivers as he suited up for the team in their week 17 contest against the Jets. Against the Jets, the 39-year old Harrison played in over 30 snaps on defense and collected 3 total tackles (1 solo and 2 assists), 2.0 sacks, and a forced fumble.
Of course with this addition, there was that element of ‘controversy’ as to why the Patriots signed Harrison. Many thought it was due to the fact that Harrison quit on his team (ala Blount and Bennett) in hopes to sign with the Patriots. Others thought it was so the Patriots wanted to ask Harrison intel on how to beat the Steelers.
First off, Harrison was sparingly used by the Steelers in 2017. Also the Steelers felt like he was way past his prime and wanted to give the younger LBs on their team more experience so that’s why they waved him. Second, why the hell do the Patriots need intel on the Steelers?! Out of the last 10 meetings between the two teams, the Patriots have won 8 of the last 10 meetings against the Steelers including the AFC Championship game
The real reason why the Patriots brought in Harrison was they wanted to use him for his big play abilities. His two sacks against the Jets showed you otherwise that he still has some left in the tank at the age of 39. So those crying foul (especially Steelers fans), do yourself a favor and just shut up. Not everything the Patriots do is a controversy okay. Seriously, enough is enough.
More Milestone Mania
Though with the season and year coming to a close, there were some key milestones that the Patriots hit in their final game of the season.
First, Tom Brady’s touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks in the second quarter was his 550th career TD pass (including postseason). This puts him 3rd all-time behind Brett Farve and Peyton Manning. Also this was Brady’s 13th victory as a starting QB at the age of 40, tying him with Farve for most all-time.
Then on the ensuing point after, Gostkowski scored his 1,609 career point. That puts him 17th all-time as he surpassed fellow kicker Matt Bryant and HOFer Lou Groza. Gostkowski tacked on 5 more points as he is currently at 1,614 career points.
With their win over the Jets, the Patriots got their 13th win of the season. This was the 7th time the Patriots got a 13-win season and puts them second all-time behind the San Francisco 49ers, who have 9 13-win seasons.
Finally, the win aganst the Jets was Bill Belichick’s 250th regular season win in his coaching career. That ties him with HOF coach Tom Landry for 3rd all-time in that category.
Fox Fist Bump
The little guy Dion Lewis gets it again. Again he was the Patriots workhorse this week as he was against Buffalo. This time around, Lewis grinded out 93 yards on the ground on 26 carries and scored a touchdown as well as snagging 6 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. All I gotta say is that the Patriots better pay the guy because if they don’t, somebody else will.
Turd in the Punch Bowl
CB Johnson Bademosi is this week’s turd. Not for what he did on the field. Rather, it was for this inexcusable flop. You can clearly see Bademosi was trying to draw a penalty by acting like he got shot with the football instead. Luckily the refs saw the flop and held the flag. The asinine part of all this is Bademosi is going to go into the NFL concussion protocol not for the hit but for banging his head on the ground while flopping. Seriously, what a turd.
Play of the Game
Harrison Making A Name For Himself as a Patriot
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