NYJ-NE Grades: Patriots win close in thrilling AFC East showdown
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Patriots’ 30-23 win over the Jets.
New York Jets
– After an early fumble, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick settled down and hit on a number of big throws all afternoon, many of which came on third down. He had the Jets in position to win, even throwing a well-placed back shoulder pass to WR Brandon Marshall which was dropped in the fourth quarter. The Jets had to settle for a field goal on that drive to go up four points instead of seven. After a number of games that saw Fitzpatrick play poorly in Jets’ victories, he did his part in this game.
– Coming into the game, the clear strength of the Jets’ defense was their defensive line, particularly against the run. With New England calling only five designed runs for its running backs, it forced Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams to make an impact as pass rushes, something they were unable to sustain throughout the game. The trio combined to get in on three sacks, two hits and seven hurries on a combined 148 rushes. Given that perspective, they had an average impact on the game and were taken away from their strength of controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game.
– Center Nick Mangold (-4.1) had his second poor game in three weeks, a year removed from grading as the second-best center in the league. He gave up a hit and three hurries on 44 pass blocking attempts while also picking up his second penalty of the season. He’s now surrendered seven pressures on the season, the same number he gave up last year in 15 games.
WR Eric Decker (+2.4)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (+1.8)
CB Antonio Cromartie (+1.4)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (+1.5)
CB Buster Skrine (+1.1)
New England Patriots
– While the Patriots offense started slow, QB Tom Brady (+7.3) was sharp in overcoming nine drops to lead the late-game comeback. He made a number of big throws in the fourth quarter, including a perfectly placed post route to WR Julian Edelman to convert a 3rd-and-17 on what proved to be the game winning drive. The go-ahead touchdown pass to WR Danny Amendola was also well-placed, as Brady threaded it between two defenders. For the game, Brady finished 9-of-14 for 181 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards in the air. As for Amendola, he caught all eight of his targets for 86 yards and a score.
– On the other side, it was LB Dont’a Hightower who set the tone for the Patriots’ defense. He was a force in the running game (+4.1) and as a pass rusher (+3.8, seven hurries on 15 rushes). He finished with a team-high seven stops as he continually took on blockers and made plays in the run game. As a rusher, he picked up pressures through the middle and off the edge, while his bull rush of C Nick Mangold set up the Jamie Collins’ highlight sack of the game.
– It was a difficult pair of matchups for Patriots’ cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (-3.4) and Logan Ryan (-1.4). Butler spent most of his time on WR Eric Decker who beat him for five receptions and 82 yards on nine targets, but it was the three penalties –including two on one play – that did him in. Ryan drew the tough assignment of WR Brandon Marshall and gave up 67 yards on four receptions, not including the dropped touchdown pass.
LB Dont’a Hightower (+7.5)
QB Tom Brady (+7.3)
DE Rob Ninkovich (+3.7)
SS Patrick Chung (+2.8)
LB Jamie Collins (+1.9)