Here are this week’s New England Patriots game grades:
Passing Offense: C+
This is mainly on the offensive line, as they struggled all game long, which never allowed Tom Brady and the passing offense to get in a solid rhythm. Yes, Brady was off on more than a few throws, but can you blame him? The Jets were constantly hitting him, as they finished the game with 11 quarterback hits, and four sacks.
I know Patriots fans don’t like him, but Dan Connolly has been their best guard this season, and him being out played a big role in how this offense looked on Sunday. Josh Kline was abused in the first half, and while things got a little better after he was benched at halftime, the offense still struggled in the second half. Going forward, I don’t think this is going to be a giant problem, but the weakness of this football team is without a doubt the offensive line.
Rushing Offense: B-
I can copy and paste most of what I said above into this space, because the ground game never got going because of the offensive line. Now, they do get a bit of a pass because it was against the Jets, who own arguably the best run stopping group in football, but the Pats still struggled.
Jonas Gray was the lead big back with LeGarrette Blount out, and he amassed a grand total of five yards on six carries. Shane Vereen did make a few plays in the second half, gaining 38 yards on six carries, but it was the forgotten Brandon Bolden that sealed the deal, as his 17-yard scamper on 3rd-and-1 late in the game ensured the Jets wouldn’t get the ball back.
Pass Defense: B+
It’s always frustrating to watch Bill Belichick defend a young quarterback, because he refuses to send pressure like everyone else, and it always results in a close win. Geno Smith had plenty of time to throw for most of the day, but when they needed it most, the Patriots came up with some huge plays on the pass rush. In fact, Dont’a Hightower’s sack late in the fourth quarter may end up being the main reason why the AFC Championship game this year is in Foxboro instead of Denver.
The secondary was great once again, although Patrick Chung and Logan Ryan were picked on a bit, specifically Chung, who was burned badly for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Run Defense: A
After giving up 218 yards on the ground the last time these two teams met, the Patriots clamped down on the Jets’ run game, holding them to 116 yards, and a mere 3.6 yards a pop. Vince Wilfork, Sealver Siliga, and Alan Branch saw a lot of playing time in the middle, and that combined 1,000 pounds really makes it tough to run the ball up the gut.
Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins continued their stellar season with a combined 20 tackles in this one, proving yet again the Pats have the best linebacker duo in the entire NFL.
Special Teams: A+
No more debating, the Pats have the best overall special-teams group in the league. They block field goals, they return punts for touchdowns, they have a punter that is on fire, and they have the most reliable kicker in the league. Vince Wilfork came through in this one with a tipped field goal to preserve the win.