On the bright side, the New England Patriots won this game and still have a chance at locking up a playoff bye. On the downside, the Patriots didn’t look like a playoff-bye caliber team by barely defeating one of the worst teams in the league 23-16. In fact, the Jacksonville Jaguars led 13-3 at one point and averaged significantly more yards per play than the Pats (5.8 to 4.9).
Stevan Ridley’s performance really stood out to me on offense, as he bounced back big-time from an awful game against the San Francisco 49ers. To me, he was the MVP of this offense in going for 84 rushing yards on 18 carries for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. Ridley also never fumbled the ball and no other running back received more than five carries.
That’s the part that bothers me a little, because the Patriots should have eased up on Tom Brady. He attempted an ungodly amount of passes last week against the 49ers (completely understandable), but 41 attempts is too many to ask from Brady especially after that workload last week. Brady played his second worst game of the season by throwing two picks and finishing with a 73.9 QB Rating, but he wasn’t bad. He was more “slightly above-average” than subpar in this one.
In all honesty, it’s mainly because Brady didn’t receive enough help from his receivers. Wes Welker was excellent with ten receptions for 88 yards and a TD, but Aaron Hernandez was held to one catch. The fact that he was almost completely negated is embarrassing for him, and it was easily his worst game of the season.
Brady also had little help from his offensive line, and this is the second straight week that he has been subject to intense pressure whilst also throwing over 40 passes. Jason Babin and Jeremy Mincey combined for five QB hits, and the Jags finished with three sacks and nine QB hits. That’s ridiculous.
Speaking of pressure, Chandler Jones was able to consistently get pressure on Chad Henne, who threw three picks in subpar day that was accentuated maybe a little too much by the picks. Patrick Chung was the recipient of two of those interceptions, while Marquice Cole snapped up the other one. Cole played much better than Kyle Arrington, who was once again a tremendous liability on the outside. I hope Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard return quickly.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.