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Matchup Winners: Patriots do just enough to secure first-round bye

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WHEN THE PATRIOTS RAN


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This wasn't exactly the disaster it appears to be on paper. The Patriots rushed for a paltry 85 yards on 24 carries and averaged only 3.5 yards per attempt. Jonas Gray was a complete non-factor in place of injured starter LeGarrette Blount, picking up just 6 yards on five carries. But during key junctures late in the game the Patriots made a few yards on the ground that helped them secure the victory. First it was Shane Vereen entering the mix late in the third quarter with the Patriots operating out of the no-huddle. Vereen ran six times for 38 yards, most of which came during an 81-yard field goal drive that trimmed New York's lead to 13-10 late in the third. After the Patriots took the lead it was Brandon Bolden's turn to contribute. He picked up 32 yards on five carries, none more important than a 17-yard romp to convert a third-and-one just after the two-minute warning. So the Jets came as advertised in terms of stopping the run, but the Patriots deserve some credit for picking up some yardage on the ground when they needed it most.  EDGE: JETS

WHEN THE JETS RAN


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New York is committed to running the football and did so often against the Patriots once again. Unlike the first meeting when New England had trouble containing it, things were different this time around. The front did a nice job of clogging the running lanes and forcing Chris Ivory (11 carries, 53 yards,4.8-yard average) and Chris Johnson (10 carries, 30 yards, 3-yard average) to bounce outside. They found occasional space on the edges and broke some tackles, but for the most part the Patriots held things in check. New York picked up 116 yards on the ground but needed 32 carries to get there (3.6-yard average). For brief moments late in the first half and early in the second the Jets appeared to be getting in gear on the ground but the Patriots surrendered only 12 efficient runs (4 yards or more, first down, TD) on those 32 carries. That's a solid performance by Vince Wilfork, Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga on the inside in support of the linebackers. The latter group also did a good job of preventing Geno Smith from getting out of the pocket the way he did in the first game, limiting him to just three carries for 9 yards on Sunday. EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASSED


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There was nothing ambiguous about this matchup; the Jets controlled things all day long. Rex Ryan loves to torment Tom Brady and he did so once again with a combination of early blitzing and late coverage. Brady never got in a rhythm after being sacked four times in the first half and often hurrying passes unnecessarily in the second. He completed only 23 of 35 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and what could have been a disastrous interception. Leading 17-16 with less than six minutes left, Brady missed Brandon LaFell (seven catches, 64 yards) badly near the sideline and had his deflected pass picked off deep in New England territory. The Jets failed to capitalize but the throw was still horrific. Danny Amendola looked an awful lot like Julian Edelman (concussion) and finished with eight catches for 63 yards including a disputed 7-yard grab to convert a huge third-and-seven down the stretch. Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown but was otherwise quiet with just 31 yards to show for his six catches. Give Ryan credit for once again slowing down Brady and the Patriots passing attack.  EDGE: JETS

WHEN THE JETS PASSED


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This wasn't a huge advantage for the Patriots, especially considering this is the worst passing attack in all of football. Smith enjoyed plenty of time in the pocket and found plenty of open targets throughout the day. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The pick was his only truly poor pass of the day, an underthrown ball that Jamie Collins easily grabbed to set up the Patriots go-ahead touchdown. Otherwise he managed the game efficiently and after a slow start was able to keep the chains moving by avoiding long-yardage situations. He did make a huge error late by taking a sack on third-and-four from the 24, making injured kicker Nick Folk's potential go-ahead kick a 52-yard attempt instead of a 42-yarder. His overall poise was evident but when it was crunch time Smith simply couldn't get it done, as evidenced by the Jets 0-for-3 effort in the red zone. Those lost opportunities, coupled with the late sack, ultimately cost the Jets the game and gave the Patriots the edge in an otherwise lackluster performance.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

SPECIAL TEAMS


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Another week, another blocked kick. Ho-hum. This time it was Wilfork who got his mitt on Folk's potential game-winner from 52 yards out, slightly altering the kick's trajectory and knocking it off line. It was the four blocked field goal of the season for the Patriots and fifth block all together including Bolden's blocked punt in San Diego. Amendola continued his Edelman impression with a terrific 39-yard punt return to set up the Patriots first touchdown, bursting down the left sideline deep into Jets territory at the 36. Ryan Allen also enjoyed another solid afternoon, averaging 52.6 yards on his five punts, although the coverage wasn't as sharp as usual as Jeremy Kerley averaged almost 12 yards on his three returns. Malcolm Butler took a bad penalty when he hit Kerley after the returner had signaled for a fair catch, and Bolden's hold negated a long Amendola kick return, but the big plays by Wilfork and Amendola were a huge part of the victory and earned the Patriots the edge in this department.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

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