It was another fight to the finish on the road, but here are some of the personnel highs and lows from the Patriots 22-17 win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Patrick Chung – The safety will never be a member of the defense who has his effort or pride questioned. Chung was flying all over the field against the Jets, helping out a solid effort by the run defense. Chung finished with 5 tackles as a key part of a defense that got to the ball better, especially against the run.
Malcolm Mitchell – A week after seemingly stamping his ticket into Tom Brady's circle of trust with his crazy 56-yard touchdown against San Francisco, the rookie was back making big plays again in New York. Mitchell hauled in touchdowns of 4 and 8 yards on his way to five total catches for 42 yards. Mitchell just missed a catch on another would-be touchdown late in the first half but it's safe to say New England would not have left the Meadowlands with a win were it not for the rookie receiver.
Run Defense –New England probably needed to keep the Jets from running the ball to keep New York from getting to comfortable on offense and that's exactly what the visitors did. The home team ran 23 times for just 64 yards (2.8 avg.), with lead back Matt Forte averaging just 2.1 per on his 13 attempts. Chung was a part of the stuffing up front, as were both Malcom Brown and Alan Branch, who combined for 13 tackles.
Bill Belichick – It wasn't a great day for the New England sideline boss, including his fashion choice of a cut-off winter hat. His team took a timeout after an obviously fortuitous spot on an opening drive third-down play. The delay allowed the Jets time to challenge, earn a re-spot and force a punt. Later, the Patriots had questionable time management to end the first half with a timeout in their pocket that went unused. The overall game plan also seemed a bit too tricky, slow developing and disjointed at times. Belichick even had a curious comment to CBS' sideline reporter at halftime regarding being "used to" playing without star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Tom Brady – After two days of missing practice last week with a knee injury, Brady seemed very much hobbled and affected by the ongoing issue. He had plenty of throws that were off-target. He was under plenty of pressure and his limited mobility didn't help. Brady completed 30 of 50 passes for just 286 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a season-worst 89.2 rating. He had just 5.72 yards per attempt. Brady wasn't horrific, but he was far from his best, far from what he's been most of the season and clearly affected by the knee problem.
Stephen Gostkowski – The nightmare season continues for the 2015 All-Pro as Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal at MetLife. The veteran has now missed four field goals and three PATs this fall. And his other kicks have been too close for comfort at times. It's not crazy to wonder if Gostkowski's struggles are heading toward a breaking point down the stretch of the season.
Rob Gronkowski –This may be more like "hold your breath." Returning to the field after missing a week to a chest injury, Gronkowski was targeted and open on two early deep balls that ended up in incomplete passes. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the locker room in the first quarter with a back injury and did not return. Gronkowski has now basically missed/been limited in six games this fall. The offense has been far from its best in recent weeks without its playmaking pass catcher. When healthy, Gronk has been great this year. But too often he's not been available to his team.
Malcolm Butler –The Patriots No. 1 cornerback seemed to be the No. 1 target for Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick early on. He was beaten by Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, including allowing a touchdown to the latter. Butler did force a key fumble on Robby Anderson after allowing a completion, New England's first takeaway in a month that led Brady's first touchdown pass of the day.
Chris Long –* *The veteran defensive end hasn't made a ton of plays in his first season in New England, but Long got a big one to close the door on the Jets in New York. His strip-sack of Fitzpatrick with less than two minutes to play allowed Trey Flowers to recover and turn the ball back to the offense to run out the clock on the win. It was Long's second sack of the year and one of the biggest plays by the defense in quite a while for New England.
The New England Patriots take on the New York Jets in a regular season game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, November 27, 2016.
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