When the Patriots ran:
The Patriots weren't able to keep the Jets defense honest by running the ball well enough to effectively use the play-action passing game that has been so effective in the past. LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis were stifled at the line consistently and were forced to make the bulk of their yards on their own. Blount did that effectively on one early carry in which he changed directions and went 18 yards around the left side after being stopped in the backfield attempting a sweep to the right. The Patriots finished with just 91 yards on the ground on 21 carries, but Blount did manage to do some damage late when he carried four straight times to close out the game, the first three resulting in a first down and the final one picking up 23 yards to make the production look a little better than it actually was. Those yards came after Chris Long's strip sack effectively ended the game and the Jets defense no longer had anything to play for, but it allowed New England to close it out in victory formation.
When the Patriots passed:
It's not often that the opponent earns this edge and truthfully the way the game ended it would be easy to give the nod to the Patriots. Tom Brady struggled throughout as he was hampered by a sore knee that limited his mobility and appeared to affect some of his throws. Many of his passes sailed high and wide and he never settled into any sort of rhythm all evening long. Still he managed to rally his team from a 17-13 deficit by leading a pair of fourth quarter scoring drives to earn the win. He completed just 30 of 50 passes for only 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns – both to Malcolm Mitchell. The rookie once again made a significant contribution, grabbing five passes for 42 yards including the 8-yard game-winning touchdown. Brady was pressured heavily most of the day and was forced to make several throwaways. The Jets did a particularly good job taking away the Patriots screen game, but when the game was on the line Brady came up big with throws to Julian Edelman (eight catches, 83 yards) and Chris Hogan (four catches, 70 yards) before finding Mitchell for the touchdown.
When the Jets ran:
The front may have to soon deal with life without Alan Branch as the defensive lineman awaits his appeal of his four-game suspension but until then he and his mates performed exceptionally well. They completely stymied Matt Forte and the Jets ground attack, limiting New York to 64 yards on 23 carries for a paltry 2.8-yard average. The numbers against Forte were even better as the veteran picked up only 27 yards on 13 attempts for a 2.1-yard average. Bilal Powell did some damage with 36 yards on eight carries (4.50yard average) but overall this was a pretty dominant effort. Branch, Malcom Brown and Vincent Valentine stuffed the interior run lanes while ends Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich did a nice job a keeping containment on the edges. The Jets inability to run the ball put the offense in some unenviable third-down positions and put all the pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the passing game.
When the Jets passed:
It's a good thing the run defense was so stout because Fitzpatrick had one of his better games of the season against an at times overmatched Patriots secondary. Despite having to carry the bulk of the load Fitzpatrick nearly did enough to win, completing 22 of 32 passes for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns for a 115.3 passer rating. He leaned heavily on receivers Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, who consistently got the better of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan all game long. Marshall finished with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdowns while Enunwa was even better with five grabs for 109 yards and a touchdown of his own. His 22-yard score gave the Jets the lead in the fourth quarter and came when he behind Butler in the end zone. Things could have been even worse for New England had Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy not gotten away with a pair of questionable plays in coverage. Rowe arrived early on one third down stop while Van Noy desperately pawed at running back C.J. Spiller on a deep route that should have been a touchdown. But Long's strip sack was the game's biggest play for the defense and allowed the Patriots to escape.
Again things weren't particularly smooth on special teams as Stephen Gostkowski missed another chip shot field goal, this one a pulled 39-yarder that wasn't close at the end of the first half. He continued his recent trend of lining up on the left hash for PATs and managed to squeak his one attempt just inside the right upright. The Patriots are going to need to have some difficult discussions regarding the state of their kicker. Otherwise things weren't too bad. Branch blocked Nick Folk's 54-yard field goal, although Folk did connect from 51 yards to open the scoring. Neither punter was overly effective, each pinning one of their four kicks inside the 20 but failing to do so on a couple of other occasions, most notably on Ryan Allen's 32-yarder that was fair caught by Jeremy Ross at the 21. Ross' 10-yard punt return was the longest of the day as neither side generated anything in the return game.