For the second straight year, the New England Patriots’ defense excelled in the area that matters most: preventing points.
The Patriots’ defense finished the 2017 season fifth in the NFL in points allowed with 18.5 per game. They entered Week 17 seventh, but lowered that ranking in their 26-6 Week 17 win over the New York Jets.
The Patriots finished first in the NFL in points allowed in 2016, but they saw a drop-off due to injuries this season.
No one should have expected the Jets’ offense to go off Sunday in the frigid cold with Bryce Petty at quarterback, but the Patriots’ defense dominated. The Patriots didn’t allow a single third-down conversion on 12 tries and let up just 247 total net yards, including 40 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Let’s get into this week’s takeaways, featuring charting stats via Pro Football Focus Elite.
— Tom Brady went 18 of 37 for just 190 yards with two touchdowns, and it certainly wasn’t his best performance of the season. Of his 19 incompletions, however, four were drops, two were throwaways, one was batted at the line and one came when he was hit while throwing. He had an accuracy percentage of just 66.7. It was his second least accurate performance of the season behind Week 1.
— Brady was just 1 of 5 on passes of 20 yards or more for 37 yards, though one of his incompletions was dropped.
— Phillip Dorsett, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Bolden and James Develin suffered drops.
— Brandon Bolden forced two missed tackles on just 10 touches. Dion Lewis forced five missed tackles on 32 offensive touches.
— Bolden averaged 3.33 yards after contact, while Lewis averaged 1.81 yards after contact.
— Lewis continued to prove he’s the Patriots’ third most valuable offensive player behind Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
OT Nate Solder: four hurries
OG Shaq Mason: QB hit, two hurries
OT Cameron Fleming: sack, hurry
RB Brandon Bolden: two hurries
TE Dwayne Allen: hurry
OG Joe Thuney: hurry
— The Patriots’ centers, David Andrews and Ted Karras, didn’t allow any pressures.
— Patriots offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle remains on the injury report with an ankle ailment. He came into the game late in the fourth quarter with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, however, which suggests Fleming might have just leapfrogged him on the depth chart. We’ll see who starts at right tackle in the divisional round of the playoffs with two weeks off in between.
DT Adam Butler: four hurries
LB James Harrison: two sacks, hurry
DE Trey Flowers: QB hit, two hurries
DE Geneo Grissom: two hurries
DE Eric Lee: sack
LB Marquis Flowers: sack
DT Malcom Brown: QB hit
DE Deatrich Wise: hurry
— Harrison made an impressive debut with a sack and strip sack to close out the game.
— Lee and Flowers made their pressures count with sacks.
— Butler provided consistent pressure but couldn’t close.
CB Jonathan Jones: 3-5, 61 yards
LB Elandon Roberts: 2-2, 38 yards
SS Patrick Chung: 3-4, 38 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 2-4, 20 yards
CB Johnson Bademosi: 1-2, 15 yards
CB Eric Rowe: 1-4, 12 yards
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-4, 12 yards
FS Duron Harmon: 1-1, 11 yards
SS Jordan Richards: 1-2, 10 yards
LB Marquis Flowers: 1-2, 9 yards
LB James Harrison: 1-2, 2 yards
CB Malcolm Butler: 0-2
— Gilmore and Butler were standouts on the corners. Jets quarterback Bryce Petty rarely looked their way. Eric Rowe also was barely targeted despite playing 25 snaps. Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was held to just one catch on three targets for 2 yards. He had close to 1,000 yards on the season. It was a quality bounce-back performance for Gilmore and Butler, both of whom have struggled as of late.
— Roberts continues to struggle in coverage, which is an area of strength for Marquis Flowers.
— Jones was torched in just 20 coverage snaps.
— A stop constitutes a “loss” for the offense, according to Pro Football Focus.
DT Lawrence Guy: three stops
LB Marquis Flowers: two stops
DT Malcom Brown: two stops
DE Trey Flowers: two stops
FS Devin McCourty: two stops
LB Elandon Roberts: stop
CB Stephon Gilmore: stop
DT Ricky Jean Francois: stop
— Guy was all over the place in run defense. He had tackles for loss of 8 yards and 1 yard.
— Brown and Trey Flowers continue to be two of the Patriots’ most consistent defenders.
Stats via Pro Football Focus Elite
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images