When the Patriots ran:
The Patriots tried to run throughout the game and simply never found much room. Dion Lewis once again opened as the lead back only this time he wasn't able to find the gaps and to move the pile the way he did in Denver a week earlier. He finished 52 yards on 16 carries for a 3.3-yard average. LeGarrette Blount was even worse, as he was consistently stymied at or near the line of scrimmage. He finished with just 50 yards on 20 carries for a 2.5-yard average and saw half of his attempt result in gains of 2 yards or fewer (not including his 1-yard touchdown run, his 17th of the season). About the only bright spot for the running game was the scoreboard, which allowed New England to continue grinding it way to 40 carries as a team despite only churning out 114 yards for a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. That production was good enough on this day but it will need to improve in the playoffs.
When the Patriots passed:
The passing offense was full of big plays against the Jets as Tom Brady effectively pushed the ball downfield on 17 of 27 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns. He effectively bought time in the pocket several times when his receivers were covered and made the Jets pay by finding open receivers in such situations. Never was that more apparent than with Julian Edelman, who finished with five catches for 89 yards including grabs of 35 and 28 yards that came off broken plays. James White atoned for an earlier drop on a potential big play to haul in a 25-yard touchdown pass and little-used Matt Lengel made the most of his first career reception by grabbing an 18-yard touchdown from Brady. The Jets secondary at times provided decent coverage but Brady's ability to move in the pocket and locate secondary receivers allowed him the opportunity to shred the visitors all afternoon long.
When the Jets ran:
For most of the game the Jets were able to create some space in the running game with Bilal Powell doing most of the damage. He carried 15 times for 60 yards and an even 4 yards per carry before missing some time dealing with a knee injury. Prior to that he found some gaps in the Patriots normally stout run defense, which was without Dont'a Hightower, and New York at times was able to move it on the ground. The Jets eventually fell too far behind to continue grinding away but still finished with 111 yards on 29 attempts for a 3.8-yard average as a team. The Patriots did force an early turnover in the running game when Elandon Roberts met Khiry Robinson in the backfield and knocked the ball loose, allowing Malcolm Butler to recover deep in the Jets territory. The Jets didn't benefit much from their ground success, but had the game been more competitive things might unfolded a bit differently.
When the Jets passed:
The Patriots dominated this matchup more so than any other on Christmas Eve. The Jets passing game had no chance as young Bryce Petty looked overwhelmed at the start of the game. He failed to complete any of his three passes, was intercepted by Butler and sacked twice before leaving with a shoulder injury. He looked lost in the pocket and hurried his throws even when there was no pressure in his face. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't much better when he replaced Petty, completing just 8 of 21 passes for 136 yards with a pair of picks. He was victimized by a handful of drops, including one by Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in the end zone, but overall the Patriots secondary (led by Butler's two picks) dominated against the Jets air attack.
Stephen Gostkowski was able to put together another perfect week, his fourth straight game doing so, by connecting on a pair of short field goals and all five PATs. He appears to have put his earlier troubles behind him, which could be a great sign for the postseason. Neither side generated much of anything in the return game. Edelman handled the put duties in the first half while Cyrus Jones returned from exile and field one without incident in the second half. Nick Marshall was caught at the 14 on one kickoff return, which came after he initially took it back to the 27 but the Jets had the Patriots re-kick when New England was flagged for offside. That decision obviously backfired. Nick Folk also missed a chip-shot from 34 yards out, pushing it wide right. Overall there weren't many significant plays on special teams but the Jets miscues cost them points.