The New England Patriots chose to stay competitive through numerous injuries in their season finale against the New York Jets and came out with a win.
The Patriots finished with a 7-9 record and actually wound up hurting their standing in the 2021 NFL Draft order with Sunday’s victory, but the win also delivered some promising performances as New England plans for the future.
Here are our takeaways from Week 17:
All advanced stats via PFF unless otherwise noted.
Overall, Cam Newton went 21-of-30 for 242 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also carried the ball 11 times for 79 yards in what was one of his best games of the season, though competition needs to be taken into account. The Jets ranked 28th in pass defense DVOA, an all-encompassing Football Outsiders metric, heading into Week 17.
Adjusted completion percentage
Of Newton’s nine incompletions, one was dropped, one was thrown away and one was batted at the line of scrimmage for an adjusted completion rate of 78.6 percent.
— Newton was 1-of-2 for 26 yards with a touchdown to tight end Devin Asiasi throwing deep.
— Asiasi recorded his first career catch and touchdown reception. The Patriots need big things from Asiasi moving forward.
— Newton was sacked three times but went 4-of-7 for 56 yards with a touchdown while under pressure.
— Running back James White had the lone drop on the afternoon.
— Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who caught six passes for 67 yards and threw a touchdown to Newton, finished 10th among NFL wide receivers with at least 50 targets in yards per route run this season. He had 59 catches on 78 targets for 729 yards in 325 routes.
LT Korey Cunningham: sack, QB hit
White: sack, hurry
LT Justin Herron: sack, hurry
C James Ferentz: QB hit, hurry
RB J.J. Taylor: sack
Newton: QB hit
RG Michael Onwenu: hurry
RT Jermaine Eluemunor: hurry
LG Joe Thuney: hurry
— The Patriots were without starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (injured reserve), center David Andrews (calf) and right guard Shaq Mason (calf).
— Cunningham filled in when Herron went down with an injury but struggled in limited snaps.
— Tight ends Dalton Keene and Asiasi, running back Sony Michel and fullback Jakob Johnson were clean in pass protection.
— Wide receiver N’Keal Harry was quiet, with two catches for 17 yards in what was overall a disappointing second season for the 2019 first-round pick. He shouldn’t be viewed as a surefire starter heading into 2021.
The Patriots had a successful day on the ground with 166 yards on just 29 carries. Newton rushed 11 times for 79 yards while Michel had 76 yards on 16 carries. Meyers and wide receiver Damiere Byrd also had carries.
Meyers: 8 yards after contact per attempt, three avoided tackles
Newton: 4.36 yards after contact per attempt, two avoided tackles
Michel: 2.25 yards after contact per attempt, three avoided tackles
Byrd: no yards after contact per attempt
WR Gunner Olszewski: avoided tackle
— Michel ranks eighth among 63 qualified running backs with 3.41 yards after contact per carry this season.
— Michel also was more involved in the passing game with three catches for a career-high 60 yards and his first receiving touchdown. The last three weeks, especially, were big for Michel as he filled in adeptly for Damien Harris. Michel played a career-high 41 snaps Sunday.
— Rookie running back J.J. Taylor only received four snaps.
Jets QB Sam Darnold went 23-of-34 for 266 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
OLB Chase Winovich: two sacks, QB hit, two hurries, batted pass
DE Deatrich Wise: two QB hits, hurry
DT Adam Butler: sack
DT Lawrence Guy: hurry
DT Akeem Spence: hurry
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: hurry
— Winovich was a menace before injuring his right hand in the first half. He returned in the third quarter with a cast on and still was able to record a QB hit.
— Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the game praised Winovich’s toughness and competitiveness for returning to action. Winovich missed just six snaps.
— Outside linebackers John Simon, Rashod Berry and Shilique Calhoun, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and safeties Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips were blanked in pass-rush opportunities.
CB JC Jackson: two catches on four targets for 63 yards, INT
FS Devin McCourty: 4-6, 56 yards, TD
CB Jonathan Jones: 5-5, 36 yards, INT
DB Myles Bryant: 3-3, 31 yards
Dugger: 4-6, 29 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 2-2 26 yards
CB Joejuan Williams: 1-2, 15 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 1-2, 10 yards
Simon: 1-1, 0 yards
— Cornerback Mike Jackson Sr., safety Terrence Brooks, Winovich and Phillips were not targeted.
— We’ll have more on Jackson on Tuesday, but the third-year cornerback finished second in the NFL with nine interceptions. He also recorded two fumbles for 11 total takeaways. Jackson will give up some big plays, but his ballhawk skills are otherworldly.
— Bryant also was near Jets tight end Chris Herndon on the touchdown Devin McCourty allowed.
— Jones had one of his best games of the season facing off against dangerous Jets slot receiver Jamison Crowder.
— Dugger filled in for Phillips when the veteran safety suffered an injury early in the contest. Dugger was thrust into action at linebacker with Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings and Terez Hall all out with injuries and didn’t miss a snap while also playing on special teams. Dugger lined up next to Ja’Whaun Bentley, returning from a shoulder injury, at linebacker for the majority of the game.
The Jets had some success on the ground, rushing 25 times for 111 yards with a touchdown.
Butler: three stops
Winovich: three stops
Guy: three stops
Jones: two stops
Jackson: two stops
D. McCourty: stop
Bryant: stop, missed tackle
Dugger: missed tackle
— Winovich has run hot and cold as a run defender this season but had a solid performance on the edge Sunday.
— The Patriots have decisions to make at defensive tackle with Guy and Butler both hitting free agency. The Patriots should look to retain both players as long as they come at the right price.
NESN’s New England football takeaways is presented by Valvoline Instant Oil Change