Picked-up pieces from fourth-quarter review of the Patriots' 17-16 win over the Jets:
1. Something we missed on Tom Brady's interception when it happened (7:26) was how the Jets effectively pick-stunted, with linebacker Demario Davis rushing directly into left tackle Nate Solder, which opened a rush lane for Jason Babin to loop inside and bear down on Brady. It looked like running back Shane Vereen was stepping up to account for Davis, but when Davis picked Solder instead, Vereen tried to readjust and impede Babin. The execution wasn't there, and the pressure forced the errant throw. Given the success of the play, it makes sense to think the Patriots will see more pick stunts in the weeks to come.
2. On Dont'a Hightower's sack (6:08), Bill Belichick credited defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for showing a look the Patriots hadn't previously shown in the game. The sack was critical, because it turned what could have been a 42-yard field goal into a 52-yarder and when the Jets attempted the field goal, it was ultimately tipped by Vince Wilfork. On the sack, the Patriots shifted the alignment of defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Chris Jones at the last moment over each shoulder of backup center Dalton Freeman, and brought Hightower and linebacker Jamie Collins up to the line of scrimmage over each guard. At the snap, Collins backed out from his alignment over left guard, but Hightower rushed over the right guard, which created some stress/confusion for the interior linemen, as well as running back Bilal Powell and right tackle Breno Giacomini. It was nicely schemed up as Hightower rushed through almost untouched. The Jets never got the ball back again.
3. The four-minute offense to run out the clock wasn't perfect, but on a day when the Patriots' offense wasn't at its best, it was the one thing that topped the list of things that ultimately went right for the unit. Danny Amendola's 7-yard catch-and-run on third-and-7 and Brandon Bolden's 17-yard run around right end on third-and-1 were the big plays. Solid blocks by receiver Brian Tyms (on Amendola's play) and fullback James Develin (on Bolden's) were critical, as was the Patriots' quick snap on Bolden's run. The quick-snap running game hasn't always been there for the Patriots this year, but it was at that critical moment.
4. Referee Brad Allen could have cleared up some confusion on the CBS broadcast and inside MetLife Stadium (where it was announced as fourth down after Amendola's catch) by decisively signaling it was first down, making sure the chains were moved, and even explaining over the microphone about the measurement. Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira also chimed in regarding the sequence.
For those upset w/#NEvsNYJ first down spot, the angle on TV was not down the line. If it was, you probably would have seen a first down.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) December 21, 2014
5. We'll keep an eye on running back Jonas Gray and if he shows up on the injury report this week. Gray had his ankle taped during the game and played just four of his 16 snaps in the second half, with Brandon Bolden taking over for him on the critical four-minute offense series.
6. It looked like the Jets were going to try a pooch punt instead of the 52-yard field goal, as there was a direct snap to kicker Nick Folk at the same time the Jets burned a timeout. But after the timeout, the decision was made to kick the field goal. That was a costly turn of events for them.
7. With first-and-goal from the 2-yard line early in the quarter (14:24), the Patriots added two offensive linemen for a jumbo look and kept things simple with two Jonas Gray runs. It was close on the 1-yard touchdown run, but this is the first time we can remember the Patriots going with seven offensive linemen in a game this season. Running against the Jets' front in short-yardage situations required that extra power and size.
8. Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga's sack (8:48) just as easily could have gone to Chandler Jones, whose strong outside rush on D'Brickashaw Ferguson caused the initial pressure. We also took note of cornerback Darrelle Revis locking down receiver Jeremy Kerley on an in-breaking route at the goal-line (Revis seemed to be assigned more to Kerley after Percy Harvin left the game). Meanwhile, up front, Jones was the player most consistently generating pressure in this game.
9. Fullback John Conner's 26-yard catch up the right side (12:19) was obviously a missed assignment, and it looked like it might have been on linebacker Jamie Collins. But those are always hard to determine without knowing the defensive call or check. Dont'a Hightower also delayed his rush before surging through the defensive left side, and that could have been his assignment. Either way, it seems safe to say that the breakdown was at the linebacker level.