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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass, helping the New England Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the top seed in the AFC with a 26-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
The win clinched the seventh 13-win season for the Patriots (13-3), which is second in NFL history to San Francisco’s nine seasons. It was also Bill Belichick’s 250th career regular-season win, moving him into a tie with Tom Landry for third all-time among head coaches.
New England has defeated New York in four straight meetings, and the Patriots (13-3) haven’t lost to the Jets (5-11) at home during the regular season with Tom Brady starting since 2006. Brady’s 13th win as a starter this season tied him with Brett Favre for the most by a starting quarterback at age 40 or older.
Lewis finished with a season-high 26 carries for 93 yards . Brandin Cooks had 11 catches for 79 yards and touchdown for New England, which will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was held without a catch for the first time this season. It was only the third time in his career that he was blanked for a game that he played in. It was also the first game in his career he was not the target of a pass for an entire game.
James Harrison, signed by New England last Tuesday after being cut by Pittsburgh, had two sacks — on consecutive plays to end the game — and finished with five total tackles and a forced fumble.
Temperatures dipped into the low-teens at kickoff, but it didn’t stop the Patriots from being aggressive at the outset.
They won the coin toss and elected to receive, going away from their typical decision to defer until the second half. Brady and the offense went to work, quickly moving 75 yards in just 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard TD run by Lewis. The drive included a fourth-down pass conversion, one of three hookups between Brady and Danny Amendola in the series.
Penalties on the Jets’ defense aided New England’s final two scores of the first half. Safety Marcus Maye was called for a 39-yard pass interference penalty early in the second quarter that set up a 5-yard TD pass from Brady to Cooks that made it 14-3.
Then just before halftime, New York cornerback Juston Burris was flagged for defensive holding on a Patriots’ third-down pass attempt. New England got into the end zone three plays later via another 5-yard TD pass, this time from Brady to Lewis.
The Jets’ offense was anemic throughout with Bryce Petty playing the entire game at quarterback after it appeared Christian Hackenberg might see his first regular-season action at some point in the finale. New York was 0 for 12 on third down and 0 for 1 in its lone trip into the red zone.