Final, Patriots 38-3: For the ninth consecutive year, the New England Patriots will not be playing on Wild Card Weekend.
The Patriots officially locked down a first-round playoff bye Sunday by eviscerating the rival New York Jets at Gillette Stadium in the teams? regular-season finale.
The blowout win featured a return to form from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions after struggling in last week?s victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Wide receivers Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett both played major roles in the passing game after making negligible impacts in recent weeks. Hogan caught six passes on 11 targets for 64 yards, and Dorsett caught five passes on five targets for 34 yards while also gaining 16 yards on two jet sweeps.
Julian Edelman once again led the Patriots in receiving yards with 69 on five catches, including a late touchdown grab.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy scored a defensive touchdown, returning an Adam Butler forced fumble 46 yards to paydirt. Defensive end Trey Flowers also forced a fumble and recorded a sack.
Safety Devin McCourty left the game with a concussion and did not return.
New England now will be off until Jan. 12 or 13, when they?ll host one of the AFC?s two divisional-round matchups.
Fourth quarter, 3:26, Patriots 38-3: Touchdown, Julian Edelman. Tom Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the game.
Start the buses.
Fourth quarter, 9:40, Patriots 31-3: Three-and-out for the Jets, highlighted by J.C. Jackson’s powerful pass breakup on first down.
Jackson walloped Robby Anderson along the sideline, jarring the ball loose and preventing what likely would have been a first-down catch. The rookie cornerback hasn’t been quite as dominant today as he’d been in recent weeks, but that was a big-time play.
Fourth quarter, 9:40, Patriots 31-3: We expected to see more Chris Hogan today with Cordarrelle Patterson sidelined, but nobody expected to see this much of him.
Tom Brady has targeted Hogan a whopping 11 times in this game, tying his regular-season career high. His only game with more targets was the 2016 AFC Championship Game, when Brady threw his way 12 times in a blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Today, Hogan has six catches for 64 yards. He caught passes on three consecutive plays on the Patriots’ latest drive, which ended in a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Fourth quarter, 12:33, Patriots 28-3: Lawrence Guy’s first sack of the season put the Jets in a second-and-19 hole, and strong run defense on the next two snaps forced another New York punt.
Third quarter, 1:14, Patriots 28-3: Sony Michel came within one broken tackle of breaking a 60-plus yard touchdown, and Rob Gronkowski showed impressive strength to drag Jamal Adams past the first-down marker, but the Patriots wound up punting after Michel came up centimeters short on a third-and-1 carry.
Third quarter, 5:05, Patriots 28-3: The Jets faced a fourth-and-short from inside the Patriots’ 10-yard line for the second time today, and for the second time, they came up short.
Elijah McGuire was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1, turning the ball over to the Patriots on downs. Malcom Brown and Elandon Roberts were in on the tackle for New England.
Third quarter, 10:48, Patriots 28-3: After getting three touchdowns off Tom Brady passes in the first half, the Patriots’ defense joined the fun in the third quarter.
Adam Butler stripped Sam Darnold as the Jets quarterback looked to make a play on third-and-10, and Kyle Van Noy scooped up the loose ball and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
It was the second touchdown of the season for the linebacker, who also scored off a blocked punt during a Week 7 win over the Chicago Bears.
The Patriots’ D did receive some bad news during the drive, however. Safety Devin McCourty, who’d played a team-high 98.9 percent of defensive snaps entering today, left the game with a head injury and is questionable to return.
Third quarter, 12:22, Patriots 21-3: A questionable offensive pass interference call on Dwayne Allen negated a 30-yard catch-and-run by Rob Gronkowski, and deep balls by Tom Brady on the next three plays all fell incomplete.
The first nearly was intercepted by Buster Skrine. The second hit the turf after Julian Edelman slowed down at the top of his route. The third bounced off the hands of Chris Hogan, whose view was obstructed by a closing Skrine.
Third quarter, 13:11, Patriots 21-3: Trey Flowers upped his season sack total to a career-high 7 1/2 by smothering Sam Darnold on third down to cap a Jets three-and-out.
Flowers, who made a strong Pro Bowl case this season, also forced a fumble earlier today.
Halftime, Patriots 21-3: The Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 36 and were stopped short. New York ran one play after taking over — a Derek Rivers sack — then let the first-half clock expire.
The sack was the first of Rivers’ NFL career. The second-year pro entered today with just one total tackle on his record.
Tom Brady is back to looking like his usual dominant self, completing 16 of 22 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions over the first two quarters. Outside of an overthrow to Chris Hogan in the end zone, he’s been nearly perfect.
Second quarter, 4:28, Patriots 21-3: The Jets drove deep into Patriots territory for the second time today but left empty-handed after Stephon Gilmore broke up a pass to Robby Anderson on fourth-and-3 from the 5-yard line.
Anderson, New York’s No. 1 receiver, doesn’t have a catch on three targets today. Gilmore has two pass breakups.
On the bright side for Jets fans, Sam Darnold is playing well today — certainly better than Josh Allen did last week. This pass to Deontay Burnett on third down was especially nice:
Second quarter, 11:03, Patriots 21-3: Tom Brady made his first real mistake of the game when he overthrew a wide-open Chris Hogan in the end zone after Flowers’ forced fumble, but he atoned for his misfire four plays later, finding Phillip Dorsett off a scramble drill for his third touchdown pass of the afternoon.
In the interim, Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson bailed the Patriots out with a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-goal from the 18.
Dorsett’s touchdown catch was his third of the season and first since Week 4. He has four catches on four targets for 27 yards after not catching a single ball over the last four games.
Second quarter, 12:53, Patriots 14-3: We’re seeing a different Tom Brady today than the one who failed to crack 130 passing yards last Sunday.
Brady has been downright surgical today, completing 13 of his first 15 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which capped New England’s latest drive.
After driving down the field with two 18-yard completions to Julian Edelman and a 21-yard run by James White off a fake jet sweep, Brady dropped a perfect pass to Rex Burkhead in the end zone to put the Patriots ahead 14-3.
Trey Flowers forced an Elijah McGuire fumble on the first play of the ensuing Jets drive, giving the ball back to the Patriots at New York’s 8-yard line.
First quarter, 0:54, Patriots 7-3: The Jets picked up chunk yardage on a 28-yard scramble by Sam Darnold and a 10-yard completion to Deontay Burnett on third-and-10, but they were forced to settle for a field goal after Stephon Gilmore broke up a pass intended for Robby Anderson on third down.
New York nearly scored a touchdown one play earlier after a Darnold pass into the end zone bounced off the top of Devin McCourty’s head and wound up in Anderson’s arms, but officials correctly ruled the ball had hit the turf first.
First quarter, 5:16, Patriots 7-0: Worrying about Tom Brady? This drive might ease some of your concerns.
Brady, who’s struggled in recent weeks, completed all six of his passes — to five different receivers — for 56 yards on New England’s second series, which culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass to running back James White.
Brady is 8-for-9 for 72 yards and a score thus far, with his lone incompletion coming on a drop by White.
With Cordarrelle Patterson sidelined, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett have been much more involved early, each catching two passes on two targets. Those four receptions equaled their combined total from the last four games.
Rob Gronkowski also caught his first pass of the game — snatching a low pass out of the air around his ankles — after being blanked last week.
First quarter, 10:16, 0-0: The Jets went three-and-out on their first possession, sandwiching two Sam Darnold incompletions around a Dont’a Hightower tackle for loss.
First quarter, 11:16, 0-0: The Patriots opened the game by continuing the run-heavy approach they utilized last week against Buffalo.
Sony Michel carried the ball on each of the game’s first three snaps, picking up 10 yards for a first down. Rex Burkhead also got a carry on the opening drive.
Tom Brady threw three passes on the drive, completing two.
Julian Edelman moved the chains with an 11-yard catch-and-run, and Chris Hogan hauled in his first catch since the Pittsburgh game to pick up another five yards, but a pass to James White on third-and-7 went through the running back’s hands, forcing the Patriots to punt.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Jets won the opening coin toss and chose to defer.
Patrick Chung is the Patriots’ kick returner today, taking the spot usually occupied by the injured Cordarrelle Patterson.
12:15 p.m.: Tom Brady just took the field to “Public Service Announcement,” and again, he peeled off around the 30-yard line rather than completing his trot down the field.
Brady has abbreviated his entrance run in recent weeks, fueling speculation he might be dealing with an injury.
11:30 a.m.: The Patriots will be down a wideout today, as Cordarrelle Patterson officially is inactive with a knee injury suffered during last week’s win over the Buffalo Bills.
Patterson has been a versatile weapon for the Patriots on offense and special teams this season. He gashed the Bills for 66 rushing yards on four carries before leaving the game in the third quarter.
This will be the first game Patterson has missed since he entered the NFL in 2013, snapping a streak of 96 consecutive appearances, including playoffs.
Other notable inactives include rookie cornerback Duke Dawson and defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Dawson, a second-round draft pick, still has yet to suit up for the Patriots. Clayborn is a healthy scratch for the second straight week.
Here’s the full list of inactives:
Defensive end Derek Rivers gets the nod today over Clayborn and Keionta Davis. The second-year pro had been a healthy scratch for each of the last six games.
Bill Belichick praised Rivers this week, saying the rookie has a bright future despite spending most of this season on the inactive list.
?When he?s had an opportunity, he?s done well with it, both in practice and in games,” Belichick said. “I think he?s got a really good future. I?m glad we have him. He could be a good player. I think he is a good player, it?s just kind of a little bit of a situational thing right now.?
Rivers has played in just five games this season, logging 62 defensive snaps and recording one tackle.
The Jets’ inactive list includes cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who reportedly skipped meetings and practices this week. Johnson signed a five-year, $72 million contract last offseason.
10 a.m.: The Jets could be very lean at both wide receiver and cornerback today.
New York on Friday ruled out receivers Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse, leaving them with just Andre Roberts, Deontay Burnett and Charone Peake behind No. 1 wideout Robby Anderson.
At corner, the Jets already are without starter Morris Claiborne, and Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts might be benched for all or part of today’s game, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
This lack of depth in the secondary bodes well for the Patriots’ passing attack, which has struggled over the last two-and-a-half games.
8 a.m. ET: Good morning from Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots will host the New York Jets today in their 16th and final game of the 2018 regular-season.
The 10-5 Patriots clinched the AFC East title and a playoff spot last weekend, and they can lock down a first-round bye with a win over the 4-11 Jets, who were eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.
New England prevailed 27-13 when these teams first met in Week 12, rushing for 215 yards in the win. New York has not won in Foxboro since the 2010 divisional round.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. For much more on this matchup between two longtime division rivals, click the link below and tune in to NESN’s Patriots Pregame Chat live on NESN.com and NESN’s Facebook page at 11 a.m.