When the Patriots ran:
Normally I would look at Dion Lewis' 3.6-yard average as the Patriots leading ball carrier and I'd give the edge to the defense in this matchup. Lewis needed 26 carries and still didn't reach the century mark, settling for 93 yards and a touchdown on the day. But the dual-threat running back was so exceptional against the Jets he earned the Patriots the edge, and he did it pretty much all on his own. Unlike a week earlier against Buffalo when he had huge holes to shoot through, Lewis was met with plenty of resistance against New York. He was forced to make tacklers miss in the backfield and often dragged defenders for additional yardage on other attempts. So while his production was average, his effort was not. Brandon Bolden chipped in late with 46 yards on nine carries, most coming in the fourth quarter when both teams were in hurry-up mode (as in, let's hurry up and get to the locker room). Overall New England continued its impressive ground work by finishing with 147 yards on 38 carries for a 3.8-yard average.
When the Patriots passed:
Tom Brady still doesn't look quite right, but it's hard to tell if that the product of not targeting Rob Gronkowski. Brady completed less than 50 percent of his throws – 18 of 37 – for just 190 yards but he did toss a pair of touchdowns. He still seems to be searching for the right chemistry with Brandin Cooks, who finished with five catches 79 yards and a touchdown but was targeted 11 times. Most of the rest of Brady's throws went to Lewis, who tacked on 40 yards on six catches including a touchdown. Gronkowski played throughout the day but was not targeted a single time, clearly in an effort to keep him fresh for the postseason. That obviously impacted the passing game, which was ineffective for large portions of the day as the Patriots 4 of 15 effort on third down attests. Regardless on available targets, Brady was off target at times and even though his interceptions streak ended at five game the Jets had their chances to extend it. Not sure if it's health related – both his own and his receivers' – but Brady hasn't been up to his normal lofty standards of late.
When the Jets ran:
This was the most impressive aspect of the game for the Patriots. Yes, the Jets came in with the inexperienced Bryce Petty at quarterback, allowing the Patriots to stack the box to shut down the run, but New England's performance was dominant. Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy were the keys, consistently bottling up Bilal Powell between the tackles and limiting the Jets lead back to just 46 yards on 13 carries for a 3.5-yard average. Even more impressive is the fact that 24 of Powell's yards came on one early carry. Newcomer James Harrison got plenty of work, taking part in 27 snaps, mostly to set the edge on run defense. He did a good job of holding the point of attack more often than not. Eli McGuire had a day the rookie would like to forget, carrying four times for minus-6 yards with a long of 3. Overall Mew York averaged 2.1 yards on 19 carries, totaling just 40 yards all afternoon. On a day built for running the ball, New York was unable to get anything going and that allowed the Patriots offense time to assume control late in the first half.
When the Jets passed:
Petty has a long way to go before he becomes even serviceable in the National Football League and the Patriots made his life difficult. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 232 yards – not terrible numbers – but he failed to find the end zone and had plenty of chances to do so. The Jets offense was mostly inept but big plays allowed the visitors three opportunities to score and Petty couldn't take advantage. He connected with tight end Neal Sterling for a beautiful 35-yard seam route and ArDarius Stewart on a 46-yard bomb. But neither drive ended in a touchdown as the Patriots made life miserable on the young quarterback in the red zone. Petty didn't deal with the pressure well and the Patriots seemed to confuse him with the coverages at time as well. Devin McCourty dropped a sure interception that would have made Petty's numbers look even worse, but bottom line is the defense surrendered just six points and once again got tough when it had to.
Ryan Allen may have had his best game of the season after having three consecutive fourth quarter punts downed inside the Jets 5. Matthew Slater downed the first two at the 4 and the last one was a perfect coffin corner throwback that went out of bounds at the 3. Allen had to be effective because he was busier than usual, punting eight times and averaging 42.3 yards with five winding up inside the 20. Stephen Gostkowski again went with the short kickoffs but Jets returner JoJo Natson got past the 25 on two of his four attempts, once making it to the 31 to open the second half. Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 40-yard field goal in the first half that would have cut the lead to 7-6, which was a big play at the time. Lachlan Edwards did a good job as well, averaging 46.3 yards on his seven punts with two downed inside the 20, although Danny Amendola did take one back 15 yards in the first half.