The Patriots and Jets went back and forth in their Week 17 battle, with the Patriots weathering a mid-game storm from the Jets offense and bouncing back and pulling away late to cap off their 2020 season with a win, 28-14. New England finishes 7-9 and avoids a four-game losing streak to end the year, putting up one of their more solid offensive performances of the season.
The youngsters were on display for the Patriots, as injuries presented an opportunity for many inexperienced players to see significant snaps, while some of the same names continued to make impact plays, led by Jakobi Meyers, who led the team in receiving and also threw a touchdown. Devin Asiasi picked up his first touchdown catch while J.C. Jackson picked up his ninth interception of the season, tied for the league lead.
Now, the Patriots turn the page to their first offseason since 2008 without a playoff appearance. The team has a number of free agents and a huge chunk of cap space to go with plenty of major decisions. There will be lots of changes coming over the next four months.
But first, here's everything that stood out in the season finale in the Game Observations!
- The Patriots took two penalties on their first drive, an illegal man downfield on Justin Herron and a false start by Devin Asasi as the team showed some of their youthful inexperience. Sony Michel had nice gains on a screen and an off-tackle that went 13 yards, he had 43 all-purpose yards on the scoring drive, a strong start.
- Cam Newton chipped in with his best run of the season, a 49 yarder that put the Pats inside the red zone and he'd finish it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to James White to give the Patriots an early 7-0 lead. The 49-yard run was the longest run ever by a Patriots quarterback and with it, Newton set the record for rushing yards by a Patriots quarterback in a season. Not a season to remember for the Patriots, but Newton certainly showed some things that have never been done before in Foxborough.
Personnel notes...J.J.Taylor took the opening kickoff after Donte Moncrief had held down the spot the last few games...Michael Onwenu slid to right guard while Jermaine Elumunor started at right tackle and James Ferentz started at center.....Adrian Phillips walked off slowly under his own power after being hurt in the first quarter, he would not return...JoeJuan Williams would see snaps at cornerback as the Patriots did some rotation...Damiere Byrd would take a big hit in the third quarter and leave the game, an unfortunate end to what was a solid first season for the receiver...practice squadder Michael Jackson would see time at cornerback in the second half in his first action of the season...Korey Cunningham would enter the game at left tackle after Justin Herron was injured.
- The Patriots defense would force a punt on the Jets' first possession though the Jets had some success through the air, getting out to midfield. After seeing Adrian Phillips go down, Kyle Dugger slid down into the linebacker role that Phillips was playing. It was notable on the third down play that two rookies -- Dugger and Myles Bryant were on the back end. Chase Winovich got a hand on the third-down pass, marking some good initial pressure by the front after they didn't do enough to get to Josh Allen last week.
- Devin Asiasi would register the first catch of his career on the Patriots' second offensive drive, but they were stopped short and forced to punt after not being able to pick up another first down after the 13-yard gain by Asiasi. Good for the rookie to get on the stat sheet in the final game of the season.
- Winovich would pick up a sack late in the first quarter and then another in the second quarter, his first since Week 12 after picking up two-and-a-half in the first four games. Winovich and Josh Uche, who was placed on IR for a second time this season this past week, will be key pass-rushing pieces next season, but the bigger question is whether they can become consistent early-down players. Winovich finished the year on a high note with his performance.
- Gunner Olszewski had a crafty little punt return in the second quarter, catching it on the run and dodging tacklers for an 18-yard return. Gunner has made some strides as a returner this season, a credit to coaches Cam Acord and Troy Brown. Julian Edelman had a similar start to his career, though he showed more immediate returns as a receiver, something Olsewski will aim for next summer. Olszewski would pick up 12- and two-yard catches in the third quarter as he saw some WR reps.
- Jakobi Meyers put in another strong effort in the season finale, coming through with a tough catch on 3rd-and-19 that came up just short upon the initial ball placement but after review, it was enough for the first down. Meyers continues to make strides and those kinds of clutch catches on long third downs is something any team will welcome.
- After the Patriots touchdown, the teams traded six-straight punts as neither offense found much consistency. The Jets threatened before the half, moving the ball past midfield as Sam Darnold made a nice third-down throw to Chris Herndon after be broke open from a bunch set. The Jets would tie the game up a few plays later on a similar seam throw to Herndon, a 21-yarder. It was a tough drive for Myles Bryant, who missed a tackle, thought he had an interception only to see the ball get caught right in front of him along the sidelines, then allowed the touchdown while picking up a penalty for a big hit after the catch.
- The Patriots had quite a few games where they struggled just before halftime, giving up late scores in the kind of situational breakdowns that are usually scarce in these parts. This was a reminder those issues have never been fully solved and proved to be a learning experience for the undrafted rookie, who was at the center of some key plays on the drive.
- Newton and the offense couldn't mount a final scoring drive in response, even with 1:33 left in the half and all three timeouts.
- The Jets would come out firing in the third quarter, getting a 53-yard catch-and-run from Perriman on a dig route on their second play of the half. This came on the heels of a 10-yard run on first down. The Jets would get in from the 1-yard line just a few plays later, extending their lead to 14-7. It was a flat start to the final half of the season and the Patriots defense gave up back-to-back scoring drives to relinquish their lead, after forcing the Jets to punt on their first three possessions of the game.
- Asiasi couldn't handle Newton's third-down pass up the seam on the Patriots' first possession of the second half. Not a perfect throw, but it was another example of how hard it has been to get any production from the tight end position this season. Asiasi would account better for himself late in the fourth quarter with a nice touchdown grab.
- Adam Butler got a big sack to back the Jets up and put a stop to their scoring drives, but got hurt on the next snap. You don't expect a lot of flow to a meaningless Week 17 game, but injuries and penalties made this an even more clunky game with no rhythm. The Patriots took a high amount of penalties in a sloppy final effort.
- The Patriots would reach deep into their playbook to tie up the game, as Jakobi Meyers would throw his second touchdown of the season, this one going to Newton. It was a 10-play, 58-yard drive for the Patriots, as once again it wasn't easy, but they found a way to get into the end zone. Meyers also had a TD toss to Rex Burkhead against the Ravens earlier this season.
- J.C. Jackson would pick up an interception on the next Jets drive, giving him a tie for the league lead with Xavien Howard at nine. It set the Patriots up inside Jets' territory as time ran out in the third quarter. Newton would find Asiasi with a perfect 26-yard touchdown throw as the Patriots took back the lead, 21-14.
- After a Jets punt, the Patriots would add on to their lead, this time with Newton finding Sony Michel underneath and Michel doing the rest of the work, taking it 31 yards for the touchdown and a 28-14 lead. It gave the Pats three-straight touchdowns scored by first-timers... Newton's first touchdown catch, Asiasi's first touchdown catch and Michel's first touchdown catch.
It wasn't a season to remember, but a win over the Jets to end a challenging season as snow fell on Gillette Stadium was a nice reminder that we were lucky to have Patriots football at all this season. Now, we're on to the offseason...