I wanted this game. Not because it was important, but rather I wanted to tear apart the Jets' playoff hopes and leave everyone at MetLife in tears. However, the Patriots were battered and beaten coming into the game, so thinking they could go into the stadium of one of the hottest teams in the NFL and squeak out a win is rather crazy.
As soon as the game started, we saw that the Patriots were going to do a lot of dink-and-dunk passes, as they were missing Julian Edelman (who should be back next week) and Danny Amendola, coupled with running up the middle with Brandon Bolden. The Patriots had an extremely difficult time moving the ball the entire game, and that became even more problematic when Sebastian Vollmer, arguably the best Patriots OL, went down with an apparent ankle/foot injury. The X-rays reportedly came back negative, and he will undergo a MRI Monday.
On the other side of the football, the Patriots were having issues defending the run, as well as manning up on Brandon Marshall. With Dont'a Hightower extremely limited (he was noticeably limping all game), the Jets rammed the ball down the Patriots' throat and set up play action passes to Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. They were moving the ball better than the Patriots, but still had trouble finishing drives.
Nonetheless, in typical Patriots fashion, they came roaring back in the fourth quarter to make this a competitive ballgame. Tom Brady and company were finally abandoning the run and throwing the football downfield, while the defense was stepping up and getting to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
After a Jabaal Sheard strip sack, Jamie Collins took the ball all the way back for the first Patriots' touchdown of the game, making it a 20-13 game. The Patriots offense continued to sputter, but then put together a phenomenal drive, which was capped off by a touchdown pass to James White.
The Patriots limped into OT, then put the trust in their defense, as they elected to kick the ball off. While this has been discussed in length, both Matthew Slater and Bill Belichick swore that they executed the OT decision the way they wanted to. The Patriots went on to give up a touchdown to Eric Decker over Malcolm Butler to finish the game.
The Patriots can still clinch the #1 seed next week with a win, as they take on the Miami Dolphins, who have quietly become one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Keep the faith!
By Pete Packowski