EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New England Patriots fans were in full-on freakout mode after the New York Jets got out to a 14-0 lead Sunday.
Then the Patriots scored 24 unanswered points and everything in the world began to make sense again. The Patriots’ defense, which struggled mightily early, clamped down, and the offense began playing up to their potential again.
The Patriots’ benefitted from a double score to end the first half and begin the second, and the Jets never recovered. The Patriots’ defense held strong at the end of the game to win 24-17.
Here are this week’s stars of the game.
RB DION LEWIS
Lewis looked like his 2015 self for the second straight week. He shimmied down the field for 52 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He has 105 yards on 18 carries over the last two weeks.
Lewis’ workload increased Sunday after running back Mike Gillislee lost a fumble late in the first quarter. The Patriots should continue to feed Lewis when their offense is in a bind. He’s been a spark plug.
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
Gronkowski didn’t look any worse for wear in Week 6 after missing last week’s game with a thigh contusion. He caught six passes on 10 targets for 83 yards with two touchdowns.
It’s evident after the last two weeks that the Patriots’ offense only can survive if Gronkowski is kept healthy. They can’t afford to lose wide receiver Julian Edelman and their star tight end.
DT MALCOM BROWN
Brown was in the middle of the Patriots’ run defense that allowed 2.3 yards per carry to running backs and 3.1 yards per carry overall.
Brown had two tackles for loss and a sack and has provided stout run defense all season.
S DEVIN MCCOURTY
McCourty caught an interception he probably shouldn’t have, since it was on fourth down and lost the Patriots yards, but the safety is playing some of his best football as he’s moved closer to the line of scrimmage this season. McCourty is playing more as a strong safety while Duron Harmon handles free safety duties.
McCourty continued to tackle and cover well as the Patriots allowed just three points in the final 47 minutes of the game.
CB MALCOLM BUTLER
Butler had an up-and-down game, allowing a touchdown but also intercepting a pass and forcing a game-changing fumble.
Butler jarred the ball loose as Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was crossing the goal line. Because he was fumbling while going into the end zone and out of bounds, the play was called a touchback, not touchdown.
Butler also recorded a QB hit on a cornerback blitz.
LB KYLE VAN NOY
Van Noy had his best game of the season, recording seven tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits.
Van Noy and fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower had key sacks on the Jets’ final drive in the fourth quarter that helped force a turnover on downs and Patriots win.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images
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