NYJ-NE Grades: Patriots win close in thrilling AFC East showdown

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Patriots’ 30-23 win over the Jets.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

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.

Top performers:

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.

Top performers:

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)

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Douglass Pinkard

    Perfect analysis.

  • King Pelé

    This is the kind of game analysis where PFF really shines. Brady raw stats weren’t that impressive (6.6 yds/att, 2 TDs, 94.3 passer rating) but this was definitely one of his best performances in quiet some time. Patriots RBs combined for 1 rushing yard, he was sacked 3 times and his WRs dropped 10 total passes, basically he was the offense. They put the ball in his hand and just let him do his magic against NFL #1 ranked defense. This guy is just unbelievable, is a privilege to watch him play.

    • corners

      because they chose to not run and throw all game, especially with lewis out.

      • King Pelé

        Nobody chooses to throw all the game, they had to do it because their running game was horrible

        • Vitor

          Credit to the NYJ DL run defense

          • Steve

            Patriots always negate the other team’s strength. Remember Rex Ryan was pissed that the Pats didn’t run against his team, because their strength was the D line?

        • balcobomber25

          Their running game never got the chance, they didn’t have their first run until the 2nd. It wasn’t because they were horrible, it was the gameplan.

          • King Pelé

            The gameplan was definitely built around the passing game but their RBs ran 5 times for 1 yard, i assure you they would’ve ran the ball a few more times if their few attempts haven’t been so pathetic.

          • balcobomber25

            No they wouldn’t have. Bill and Josh come up with a game plan and stick to it. The plan here was with no Lewis to force the front 7 to defend the pass.

          • King Pelé

            Yeah right, and it was definitely part of the gameplan to have Brady as the leading rusher of the team in the game Lmfao

          • balcobomber25

            That was Brady improvising on a pass play. The game plan was to take away the Dline strength which is stopping the run. They forced Richardson and Wilkerson into being pass rushers.

        • Douglass Pinkard

          Which running game are you referring to? They did not elect to run the ball? Like telling me their squeeze play, hit and run, and bunt plays were ineffective. Do you guys watch these games?

        • Steve

          Lewis was out, they had rookies all over the offensive line, and they knew they could pass on them. Why beat your head against the wall? Take what is there, like they did blowing out Buffalo

          • Sam Doohan

            I think Steve hits the important part. The Pats came in looking to take advantage of the weakness they saw. The Jets came expecting to stomp all over the run and get plenty of free plays which the Pats declined to give them.

            The Pats take what’s there and change when it doesn’t work. Other teams hope their opponents will give them something.

        • Tim Edell

          How can you say their running game was horrible when they had 5 attempts..your assuming it would be horrible. There is a BIG difference.

        • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

          i think they chose to actually. take the jets interior D-line strength and nullify them. calling only 5 runs isn’t even enough plays to determine if their ground game was horrible

  • Gerardo Ortiz

    I can tell you this, with these group of corners, we are not beating a good team, wining a playoff game or make it to the super bowl. These corners are sucks and so is Coleman.

    • King Pelé

      This is simply not true. Coleman had a great 2nd half and Butler was a top 3 graded CB in the league between the weeks 2 and 6, this was only the 2nd bad game of his career. The Patriots definitely doesn’t have an elite group of CBs, but there’s a reason why they’re graded as a top 5 team in the league in pass coverage right now, they have one of the best group of covering safeties in the league and their LBs can defend the pass. The Patriots can definitely make the Super Bowl with their actual group of CBs.

      • iceberg325

        Elite is very strong word. The CBs are not elite

        • King Pelé

          “The Patriots definitely doesn’t have an elite group of CBs”

          • iceberg325

            Read that wrong. Sorry

      • corners

        you act like butlers had a long career. How many starts? Wasnt like the jets offense is awesome or anything.

        That patritos defense just doesnt play as well if the patritos dont put up 35 points. If they dont have a big lead, they cant play close football and avg wr’s make their cb’s look like trash.

        It still shocks me how little stock pats fans put into revis being the final piece that got them over that 10 year drought.

        • balcobomber25

          The Jets offense has two very good WRs and coming into this game the best rushing attack. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker aren’t average WRs.

          Revis was one component that helped them win, one of many. But the thing that separated last years teams to previous years wasn’t Revis. It was the health of Brady’s weapons, specifically Gronk. The Pats can win a SB with average CBs because they have a very good front 7 and McCourty and Chung at safety.

          • Anonymous

            I think the point that this poster is trying to make, is that when you get to the playoffs and you have to face the Antonio Browns, the AJ Greens, the Deymarius Thomas’s and Emmanuel Sanders’s, plus if the Jets get in Decker and Marshall again, Butler can’t be your guy. All it takes is one bad game from the offense (a bad game for them being 24 points instead of 35) and you’re done. The Jets with a banged up Ivory moved the ball VERY easily for large portions of that game.

            Is it any surprise that Butler’s worst games were when he faced top level receivers? Well those are the guys they’re gonna be facing in the playoffs. When you had Revis, he was what made the defense go from average (what they are now) to good enough to make some stops when the offense is sputtering.

            Jets were winning that game 20-16 in the middle of the fourth quarter and if not for a 3rd and 17 conversion they likely win that game. Small margins like that in the playoffs, against teams that might even be better than the Jets right now (and I’m a Jets fan), and you’ll lose.

            Revis WAS the final piece. It’s why NE continued to dominate offensively but could never win the big one. EVERY one of BB/TB’s SB’s came with an All-Pro caliber corner. You don’t have one now, and it’s on Brady to play like he did yesterday every single playoff game. If he doesn’t, they’ll lose. If anyone can do it, it is him but history has shown that this may be a playoff formula, but not a SB winning formula.

          • balcobomber25

            Healthy Gronk makes more of an impact than Revis.

          • Jay

            If If If IF IF….. such bullshit. Pats offence is much better, much sooner this year than last year. If they stay relatively healthy with no more injuries on the OL, # 5 will be there.

          • iceberg325

            Kerley is a very capable WR as well. Revis certainly helped the Pats big time last year. The Pats winning the Super Bowl last year was because of a mixture of things. Lets not forget Browner as well. Without Browner, Butler doesnt make that play. Gronk being healthy was HUGE!

        • King Pelé

          I never said Butler has a long career, i just pointed how well he played in most games this season.

          “If they dont have a big lead, they cant play close football and avg wr’s make their cb’s look like trash.” Well if Decker and Antonio Brown are average WRs in your opinion i don’t know what to say to you, because they were the only 2 WRs that really gave them problems this season.

          Did you really watch the Super Bowls 42 and 46? The Patriots got one play away from winning these Super Bowls, and they didn’t had Revis at the time. Revis was great last year but he was far from being “the final piece”, to say this makes you look like someone who didn’t watch a single playoff game of the Patriots in this “10 year drought”.

          • Steve

            Revis got smoked for TD by Green Bay, in the Super Bowl, and yesterday Edelman left him in the dust, but dropped a sure TD. Revis is one of the best, but he gets beat….

          • crsn891

            Revis got smoked for a TD, by Green Bay, in the Super Bowl? News to me.

          • King Pelé

            He’s right, Jordy Nelson toasted Revis on a long TD play at Green Bay in week 13 and he leaved Baldwin completely wide open in the end zone for a TD in the Super Bowl.

          • King Pelé

            Exactly. Also a crucial PI and a TD against Baltimore in the divisional round. Not saying he’s not great but he also make mistakes.

        • Steve

          Isn’t Marshall one of the best receivers on the NFL this year? Weren’t the Pats trailing in the 4th quarter, meaning they didn’t have a big lead?
          Both these points negate your whole argument

        • Steve

          Oh..and the Pats didn’t score 35 points. Bang….I just dropped the mic!

        • crsn891

          Their last two games were close…

    • Joe P

      They’re small and they can’t match up with big receivers New England will not win a Superbowl with these corners

      • balcobomber25

        We will see, so far they won 6 games with these CBs.

      • rogue

        How many teams have big WRs? The Jets? Better yet, how many teams have big WRs AND a great D?

      • Robert Anasi

        They won a Superbowl with a converted wide receiver, Troy Brown, playing corner. All teams have weaknesses. Belichick does a better job minimizing them than most coaches.

  • Steve

    Brady was over 99% of the offense

    • balcobomber25

      Brady had some poor throws in that game, the only one on offense who was perfect was Danny.

      • Steve

        Sure. I didn’t say he was perfect.
        But it doesn’t negate the fact that Brady generated 99.7% of the offense, with his passing and running

        • balcobomber25

          Okay i misunderstood your point.

        • Douglass Pinkard

          What in god’s name are you people talking about!? Just as a math problem, Brady had 0 receptions and 0 receiving yards, so, by definition, his contribution could not amount to 99.7% Are you guys drunk?

          • snoth cambin

            The receivers didn’t get much YAC(with exception of that amendola 1st down run) The patriots ran the ball 9 times 4 of those were from brady. And no one receiver was targeted exponentially more than another, so yes Brady was 99 percent of the offense yesterday.

          • Steve

            Are you still drunk from watching too much football? Let’s go back to first grade for you. The statement was that Brady generated 99.7% of the offense. That means his passing and running generated all the offense, or at least most of it. Now if you still do not get it, I suspect you go back to watching your goldfish swim in circles, and try to figure out how that little fish swims miles a day when that little god fish bowl is only 6 inches wide.

      • King Pelé

        I totally disagree, Amendola made some big catches but Brady was beyond fantastic, completely deserved his highest grade in more than 2 years.

      • Corey Szczebak

        No no no. Brady was fantastic yesterday. His only “bad” throws came right before he got hit, only like 2 or 3 throws for the whole game.

        • balcobomber25

          He had about 6 bad throws, but overall he played a great game.

  • Douglass Pinkard

    Is there a way to work in coaches ratings? I’d like to get the ball rolling by grading Jets special teams’ coach Bobby April a -INFINITY for the work he’s done this season. I’m just sayin’.

  • Douglass Pinkard

    Is there a way to work in coaches ratings? I’d like to get the ball rolling by grading Jets special teams’ coach Bobby April a -INFINITY for the work he’s done this season. I’m just sayin’.

  • salemst

    Look, didn’t anyone see the stat line about the Patriot offensive line?
    Four of their linemen had started, collectively, less than 10 games for their careers.
    They were missing Cannon and Shaq Mason yesterday with Wendell not ready to play–missing 3 guys
    They were missing running back Dion Lewis.

    What the Patriots did was game plan around the missing guys. If everyone’s healthy they run the ball more than 5 times.

    • Steve

      The Pats game plan. Rex Ryan was pissed the Pats didn’t run against his team. What an idiot. They took away his strength. With the Jets, their strength was supposed to be against the pass as well. Brady ate them up, and if they didn’t drop 11 passes, It would have been more of an embarrassment for the proud Jets D

  • iceberg325

    I think Butler would serve better at Safety.

    • rogue

      Are you kidding?

      He ranks 56th among all qualifying corners. Plus, he was alone with Decker the whole game. His only other bad game was week one vs Antonio Brown, the #2 PFF ranked WR in the NFL. PFF gives him a 73.5 rating which is “Average Starter”. That’s good.

  • rogue

    All those drops actually helped Brady’s grade.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      they judge the throw independent of the drops, so no they didn’t “help”

  • Doug Lord

    Gonna be the same game plan VS the Dolphins on Thursday. Miami has a better front 5 on paper, but Jets front 5 have played better. Jets have a better secondary and linebackers. So Brady is gonna have a field day. The other side of the ball is the difference. Theoretically Tannehill is much better then Fitzpatrick and other then Decker – Miami has better receivers and a better RB. I don’t think NE can afford to score less then 35. And the big ??? Is will Dan the Man fold under pressure, or will his zany unpredictableness flummox Bellichick?

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      miami, unlike the jets, have edge rushers tho. would be very risky to play unbalanced against them

  • 0331Tap

    He’s 38, looks and plays like 28 and beat the best defense in the east…He beat the mouth Rex Ryan again…They are 6 and 0…No other team in football can do what they do…Was it perfect, no…But they get it done…If they had Lewis healthy and LaFell catching the ball it would not have even been close