NE-NYJ grades: Brady, Hightower lead Patriots past Jets
New England Patriots 22, New York Jets 17
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the New England Patriots’ 22-17 Week 12 victory over the New York Jets:
Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 83.1
Slow start ends with Brady of old
The bum knee acquired in Week 11 against the 49ers appeared to hinder QB Tom Brady’s accuracy throughout the first quarter on Sunday. However, Brady would emerge in the fourth quarter to complete 10-of-16 passes for 124 yards and the game-deciding 8-yard touchdown on an out-route to WR Malcolm Mitchell. Brady excelled when targeting receivers between 10 and 19 yards downfield against the Jets, completing all four such targets for 60 yards and, despite the modest statistical output for Brady’s reputation, collected another victory for New England.
Top offensive grades:
WR Malcolm Mitchell, 79.3
LT Nate Solder, 78.8
RG Shaquille Mason, 77.9
HB LeGarrette Blount, 73.7
WR Chris Hogan, 72.0
Injuries allow newcomers to contribute
TE Rob Gronkowski left early in the first quarter due to a back injury after failing to collect either of his targets. TE Martellus Bennett would injure his ankle on the first play of the third quarter and, despite returning to log a total of 58 snaps, provided next to nothing the rest of the way. Thankfully for New England, rookie wideout Malcolm Mitchell, offseason free-agent acquisition Chris Hogan, and a recent activation from injured reserve, HB Dion Lewis, helped pave the way to victory. Lewis earned the game’s highest receiving grade (82.3), highlighted by a pair of clutch receptions in the fourth quarter. While HB LeGarrette Blount appeared to do more dancing in the backfield than expected from the north-south bruiser, he managed to break off a pair of 23-yard runs—the second of which was recorded in the final minutes.
Top defensive grades:
LB Dont’a Hightower, 83.3
ED Chris Long, 83.0
S Devin McCourty, 81.9
DI Malcom Brown, 79.8
CB Logan Ryan, 74.6
Patriots’ defense does just enough to secure the win
The Patriots’ defenders were only able to collect one sack and one hit on the quarterback, but they also only missed a single tackle. CB Malcolm Butler (69.0) permitted each of his six targeted coverage responsibilities to secure the football for 106 yards, a perfect passer rating allowed (158.3), and both of New York’s receiving touchdowns. MLB Dont’a Hightower was stout in run defense, and edge rusher Chris Long emerged as the star performer for the unit after forcing a strip-sack on the Jets’ final play.
Quarterback grade: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 84.6
Another “Fitz-magic” sighting on Sunday
While he didn’t come away with the victory, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finally submitted a performance that should cement his place as the team’s starter. Fitzpatrick found little resistance from the New England secondary, and recorded a 142.7 passer rating when blitzed.
Top offensive grades:
WR Quincy Enunwa, 79.8
WR Brandon Marshall, 77.5
HB Bilal Powell, 74.8
RG Brian Winters, 68.3
HB Matt Forte, 67.2
Jets’ passing offense exceeds expectations
While the backfield would only average 2.8 yards over 23 attempts with a long of 7 yards, the passing game shredded the New England secondary. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa were responsible for most of the damage, combining for 11 receptions, 175 yards, and both touchdowns.
Top defensive grades:
LB David Harris, 85.5
SS Calvin Pryor, 82.2
FS Marcus Gilchrist, 75.9
RE Leonard Williams, 75.7
LB Darron Lee, 75.7
New York defense falters late
New York would maintain its steady run defense by allowing 4.2 yards per attempt, limiting New England receivers to a 6.5-yard-per-target average. However, Patriots QB Tom Brady took advantage of soft coverage from the Jets’ cornerbacks—Darrelle Revis (55.5 game grade) and Buster Skrine (50.0)—to send New York to a 3-8 record. Rookie ILB Darron Lee out of Ohio State led the team with eight solo tackles and three assists, and ILB David Harris recorded the game-high grade (85.5) after recording four stops and seven solo tackles.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
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