Pats PostGame Notebook: The 2018 Finale
Ryan L. Fox
People won’t remember how you start but how you finish things. At the beginning of the 2018 season, there was reported turmoil and uncertainty within the New England Patriots locker room. But they were somehow able to weather that storm as well as their road ineptitude throughout the entire season all the way to the end.
Now in Week 17, the Patriots met their AFC East divisional opponent New York Jets in Gillette for the last game of the 2018 regular season and the last NFL game of 2018. A win would guarantee the AFC #2 Playoff seed as well as end the season on a strong note. After 60 minutes of football, there was no doubt that the outcome would be any different.
The Patriots began the game with the ball as the Jets kicked it off and out of the end zone. QB Tom Brady and the offense took over on their own 25 for their first possession of the game. However they were only able to advance the ball to midfield as P Ryan Allen came to punt the ball down to the New York 33.
From there, the Patriots defense smothered the Jets offense allowing just 1 minute to go by and the offense to accumulate a total of -1 yards on 3 plays. The Jets then punted the ball as WR/PR Julian Edelman caught it at the New England 33 and brought it back to the New England 41.
The Patriots offense took over there as Brady assaulted the Jets defense with short passes while RB Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead pounded the ball up the middle. From the New England 41 to the New York 31, the Patriots didn’t a run a play for 10+ yards. But then on 2nd and 8 from the New York 31, Brady found TE Robert James Gronkowski for a 14 yard pass to the New York 17. Then from there, Brady found RB James White over the middle at the New York 14. White then took the pass in stride, outrunning the Jets defense and into the end zone for the touchdown. K Stephen Gostkowski booted the PAT through the uprights as the Patriots took the early 7-0 lead.
The Jets got the ball back at their own 22 and were looking to answer the Brady-White touchdown. Jets RB Elijah McGuire got the drive going with a 17 yard run on to the New York 39. Two plays later, rookie QB Sam Darnold gashed the Patriots defense for a 28 yard scramble down to the New England 33. Another two plays later, Darnold found WR Deontay Burnett for a 10 yard pass to the New England 23 on 3rd and 10 to keep the drive alive. The drive ultimately stalled out at the New England 22 as K Jason Myers came in to boot a 40 yard field goal to make it 7-3 with under a minute left in the 1st quarter.
The Patriots got the ball back on their own 25 for their next possession as Brady came out slinging the ball. He ended up going 4-for-5 for 41 yards at the beginning of the drive with Edelman getting 2 passes for 36 yards. The Patriots ended up keeping the ball for the end of the 1st quarter and into the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
After a 21 yard run from White down to the New York 21, Brady found Burkhead along the right sideline for the touchdown. Gostkowski booted the PAT through as the Patriots lead grew to 14-3.
Seeing the game getting away from them, the Jets looked to try and answer the Patriots touchdown with one of their own. But on their first possession from their won 25, McGuire was tackled by Patriots DE Trey Flowers and had the ball knocked out of his hands. Patriots FS Devin McCourty scooped the loose ball at the New York 22 and returned it down to the New York 8.
With the Patriots in excellent field position, it seemed like it would only take 1 play to score. However an incompletion on 1st and goal, a 10 yard holding penalty, and then another incompletion made it 3rd and goal from the 18. There, Brady’s pass fell incomplete and it would have been 4th down. However Jets DE Henry Anderson was called for roughing the passer as it gave the Patriots a 1st down at the New York 9. Three plays later, Brady found WR Phillip Dorsett in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Gostkowski booted the PAT as the Patriots lead ballooned to 21-3.
Down 3 scores with under 11 minutes in the half, the Jets were desperate to try and stay in the game. Darnold lead his team down the field, barraging the Patriots defense and making big plays. This included a 22 yard pass to Burnett on 3rd and 9 at the New York 49 down to the New England 29 and then a 17 yard pass to McGuire down to the New England 12 on the following play. The Jets were able to get down to the New England 5 after a 10 yard pass from Darnold to WR Andre Roberts and were looking for that needed score. However McGuire was stopped for no game as the Jets were faced with 4th and 3 at the 5. Instead of taking the field goal, they elected to go for it. However Darnold’s pass to WR Robbie Anderson went incomplete and the Patriots took over on downs.
Like their last scoring drive, the Patriots made big play after big play. Three out of their first five plays went for 10+ yards while the other two plays went for 8 yards each time. After an 8 yard run by White after the 2 minute warning, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 2 from the New York 37. But an incompletion on 2nd down and a 1 yard run on 3rd down made it 4th and 1 from the New York 36. However White was stopped short of the 1st down marker as the Jets took over with 25 seconds left in the half. However Patriots DE Derrick Rivers sacked Darnold back at the New York 26 for the last play of the 1st half.
The two teams then opened up the 2nd half of the game with an exchanging of punts with one another.
The Jets got the ball back on their own 39. After a 12 yard run to the New England 49 by RB Trenton Cannon, it looked like the Jets were going to get back into the game. That all changed 3 plays later. On 3rd and 10 at the New England 49, Darnold took a 5 yard sack by Patriots DT Adam Butler. However Darnold lost the football as Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy recovered the ball at the New York 46, returning it all the way into the end zone for a score. Gostkowski booted the PAT through as the Patriots lead grew to 28-3.
After taking the kickoff back to their own 32, Darnold led the offense back out onto the field to atone for his costly blunder. The Jets found moderate success against the Patriots defense as they were able to move the ball with almost relative ease. That is until they got to the New England 12. They were only able to get 3 more yards on the next two plays as they were faced again with 4th and short deep in New England territory. Like last time, the Jets opted to go for it and like last time, they didn’t get the 1st down.
The two teams then closed out the 3rd quarter and opened up the 4th quarter with an exchanging of punts with one another.
The Patriots got the ball back with a little over 12 and a half minutes left in the game. Brady found WR Chris Hogan on 3 consecutive plays (for 42 total yards) as the Patriots moved the ball down to the New York 22. However a sack by Jets DE Leonard Williams on 2nd and 5 made it 3rd and long from the New York 28. Brady’s pass to White ended up being a couple yards short of the first down as Gostkowski booted a 38 yard field goal through the uprights to make it 31-3.
After forcing the Jets to punt the ball, the Patriots got the ball back with a little over 8 and a half minutes left in the game. Unlike their last few possessions, the Patriots opted to keep the ball on the ground. The Patriots’ rushing attack pounded the Jets defense as they kept getting first downs and running out the clock. It wasn’t until 2nd and 2 from the New York 12 where the Patriots made their first pass play (a 7 yard pass from Brady to WR Phillip Dorsett) but it ended up going for another first down to keep the drive alive and the clock moving. The Patriots were able to get all the way down to the New York 5. On 2nd and 3 from the New York 5, Brady found Edelman over the middle for the touchdown. Gostkowski booted the PAT through as the Patriots lead was now 38-3
With time winding down in the game, the two teams once again exchanged punts with one another.
The Jets then got the ball back with 24 seconds left in the game at the New England 45. Jets RB De'Angelo Henderson took the handoff and got it down to the New England 31. However Patriots CB Johnathan Jones punched the ball out, causing another Jets fumble while teammate LB Albert McClellan recovered the ball at the New England 32.
Backup QB Brian Hoyer took one last knee to run the clock to 00:00.
When the final gun was sound, the Patriots celebrated not only their victory* over the Jets but the fact they clenched the AFC #2 Playoff Seed and would be getting a bye week for the 9th consecutive year in a row. What a way to end a tumultuous season. It wasn’t pretty but they still were able to get the job done.
Notable Patriot Statistical Standouts
QB Tom Brady: 24-for-33 for 250 yards and 4TD for a QB Rating of 133.8
RB James White: 4 carries for 30 yards, 4 catches (on 5 targets) for 39 yards and 1 TD
WR Julian Edelman: 2 carries for 24 yards, 5 catches (on 6 targets) for 69 yards and 1 TD, 4 punt returns for 28 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 6 catches (on 11 targets) for 64 yards
DE Trey Flowers: 6 tackle (4 solo, 2 assist), 1.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
LB Kyle Van Noy: 3 tackles (0 solo, 3 assist), 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive TD
CB J.C. Jackson: 7 tackles (5 solo, 2 assist), 1 pass defended
FS Devin McCourty: 2 tackles (0 solo, 2 assist), 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
133.8 – The passer rating of Tom Brady for the game, the highest this season
.830 – The winning percentage of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium during the Tom Brady era (142-29 including playoff wins), the best in the NFL during that timeframe
436 – The total amount of points the Patriots scored in 2018, the 12th consecutive season they have scored 400+ points (extending their current NFL record)
9 – The number of consecutive AFC postseason byes the Patriots have since 2009
1,743 – The number of career points K Stephen Gostkowski has, placing him 12th all-time
0 – The number wins a rookie QB has against the Patriots since 2000 (0-11 overall)
6,004 – The career number of completions Tom Brady has in his career, 4th all-time behind Drew Brees (6,586), Brett Farve (6,300), and Peyton Manning (6,125)
425 – The total number of rushing yards for RB James White has in a season, a career high. White also has 751 receiving yards in 2018, becoming the 1st Patriot in franchise history to have 400+ rushing yards and 700+ receiving yards in a single season
12 – The total amount of touchdowns James White has for the season, a team high
29 – The number of 4+ touchdown passes Tom Brady has in his career, putting him 3rd-most all-time
15 – The number of seasons the Patriots have won 11 or more games in a single season during the Belichick coaching era
19 – The consecutive number of home games (including post season) won by the Patriots since losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2017 season opener
0.08 – The legal limit for your blood alcohol content. Remember to be smart when celebrating New Years
Fox Fist Bump
This week’s fist bump goes to QB Tom Brady.
Last week, one could say was one of his worst games in the past 10 years. He had a QB rating of 48.3, the lowest in over a decade, threw for 126 yards passing, just barely over 50% (54.17%) completion, and 2 picks.
This time around, Brady’s numbers were a lot better. He complete nearly 73% of his passes (24-for-33) for nearly double what he threw last week against the Bills (250 yards) and threw 4 touchdown passes for a season high QB Rating of 133.8.
Now that's what I call having a rebound game.
The Meatball of the Week
There was no meatballs to give this week. Good performance all around on offense, defense, and special teams. A good, solid Patriots victory*.
Play of the Game
This time around, we got 2 for you:
One For the Record Books
Run Kyle Run!
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