A 10-7 halftime score would not decide Sunday’s game MetLife Stadium, as the New England Patriots did enough in the second half to defeat the New York Jets by a score of 17-16 in Week 16.
The final meeting of the year between the Patriots and Jets was not unlike the last one. It was close. And it was ugly. But it was enough to send New England to 12-3 and New York to 3-12 heading into the final week of the 2014 regular season.
Here is a closer look at the numbers behind the byproduct.
Four Sacks Conceded by New England: The Jets’ pass rush lived up to its billing Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford, as linebackers Demario Davis and David Harris, as well as defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and defensive back Antonio Allen all got to quarterback Tom Brady. The end result was the most sacks the Patriots’ offensive line has let up since Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins – four. Each one took place over the first two quarters, with three coming in the first quarter, as New England acclimated to the absence of left guard Dan Connolly due to a knee injury. The blockers and the offense found a rhythm as the game wore on, however, as right guard Ryan Wendell moved to left guard and rookie tackle Cameron Fleming stepped into his place.
Gronkowski Ties Davis for Sixth All-Time: The lone points of the first half for the Patriots came at the hands of Rob Gronkowski, who leaned back and got both feet down behind Jets safety Calvin Pryor for his 12th touchdown catch of the campaign. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end’s TD marked the 55th of his NFL career, tying him with Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers for sixth all-time at the position. Gronkowski, who has 54 receiving over his five seasons, recorded one rushing score in 2011.
52 Offensive Yards in First Half: Though Gronkowski made his way into the end zone, the Patriots’ offense seldom made its was into Jets’ territory in the first half. And between the ground and the air, only 52 yards were amassed by New England through the first 30 minutes, matching the lowest first-half yardage output for the team since 2010. Brady walked back out from the locker room and proceeded to finish with a total of 182 yards passing, while Jonas Gray, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden helped the backfield finish with 85 yards rushing after just nine were totaled in the first half.
Amendola Notches 54 Percent of Season-Long Receiving Production: With Julian Edelman’s 92 receptions and 972 receiving yards unable to make the trip due to a concussion and a thigh injury, New England turned to fellow wide receiver Danny Amendola for production. The second-year Patriot answered thenceforth via special teams, where he amassed 91 yards on kickoffs and 63 yards on punt returns. But he also answered via the passing game, catching a team-best eight passes for 63 yards in the Patriots’ win. Amendola headed into the game with 15 catches and 113 receiving yards, yet his his performance versus the Jets accounted for 54 percent of his receiving production on the season.
New England’s Defense Allows 3.6 Yards per Rush: The last time New England’s defense encountered New York’s running game, 43 carries for 218 rushing yards and a 5.3 average were the outcome. The front, reinforced by the presence of defensive tackles Sealver Siliga and Alan Branch, allowed 32 carries for 116 yards and a 3.6 average this time. And along the way, Jets halfback Chris Ivory, who broke the 100-yard mark in Week 7, was held to 53 yards in Week 16.
Two Interceptions for Collins This Season: As defensive end Chandler Jones took away Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s pocket with under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Jamie Collins took away the football. The 2013 second-round linebacker elevated above the rim to intercept New York’s 2013 second-rounder, and it parlayed into New England retaking the lead just minutes later. For Collins, who also leads the Patriots in tackles, it marked his second pick of the season.
Zero Touchdowns Allowed in Second Half of Last Five Patriots Games: Jets kicker Nick Folk managed to convert two field goals in the second half of Sunday’s game, but the Patriots’ holdout remains intact. The defense has not allowed a touchdown in the second half of its last five games, dating back to a touchdown by Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo in Week 11. Opponents have scored 12 points on the Patriots over that second-half span.
Patriots, Jets and Three Points or Less: The Patriots and Jets have played it close, and recent history illustrates that sentiment. Five of the last six games between the two teams have been decided by three points or less. And since October of 2012, the only game decided by more than three was New England’s 49-19 Thanksgiving rout one month later.
Nine 12-Win Regular Seasons since 2003: With the win over New York, New England has now hit the 12-win threshold for the ninth time since the 2003. It is a threshold the franchise has hit in each of the last five regular seasons.
Five Straight First-Round Byes: From the same vein as the Patriots’ five straight 12-win seasons is the team’s five straight first-round byes. New England is now the first team in NFL history to earn a week off in the playoffs for five consecutive years.
Win No. 230 for Belichick: Bill Belichick now stands alone with the fourth most all-time wins by a head coach, surpassing Curly Lambeau with his 230th on Sunday. Ahead of the 14th-year Patriots head coach stands Tom Landry with 270, George Halas with 321 and Don Shula with 347.