By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

Final score, Patriots 23, Jaguars 16: It was tighter than anyone expected, but the Patriots did just enough to fend off the pesky Jaguars.

The Clemons catch did stand on replay, and after a Shipley catch got the Jags to the 12, Henne spiked on first down, threw an incompletion on second down, then lofted a prayer on third down that ended up in Patrick Chung’s chest.

The Patriots escape with a victory, improve to 11-4 and keep their hopes for a first-round bye in order.

Fourth quarter, :22, 23-16 Patriots: The Jaguars are still alive, though their fate rests in the hands of a replay review of a Clemons catch that moved the chains and got the Jaguars in position to score here.

Notable on this drive was Patrick Chung’s personal foul for hitting a defenseless receiver on the first play of the drive. Chung professed his innocence, but the four penalty flags on the field (and the obvious fact that it was an illegal hit) gave the Jags 15 free yards.

Fourth quarter, :59, 23-16 Patriots: The Patriots couldn’t pick up a first down and had to punt. Chad Henne now needs to orchestrate a touchdown drive with no timeouts and less than a minute remaining. The Jags start at their own 38-yard line.

Fourth quarter, 2:00, 23-16 Patriots: The Hoo-man comes through again, this time with a huge pickup on third-and-4. The tight end caught the pass and looked to be able to just pick up the first down, but he broke free and turned it into a 14-yard gain.

Fourth quarter, 3:14, 23-16 Patriots: Chandler Jones rocked Henne as he threw the ball, which fluttered into the chest of Patrick Chung. Patriots take over inside their own 20 after Vince Wilfork was penalized for unnecessary roughness after the interception return.

Fourth quarter, 3:32, 23-16 Patriots: The Pats need one more play to finish off a huge red zone stop. The Jags will have a fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line coming out of this timeout.

Kyle Arrington did a nice job on first down forcing Blackmon out of bounds on the 1, and on second down, Jerod Mayo and a host of Patriots stopped Jones from crossing the goal line. On third down, Zach Potter inexplicably jumped offsides, moving the Jags from the 1-inch line to their own 5-yard line, and then Hightower came up with a big sack on third down.

The Jaguars will go for it on fourth down after the timeout.

Fourth quarter, 7:37, 23-16 Patriots: Remember what I was saying about having a ballgame? That’s what we’ve got after a three-and-out for the Pats’ offense.

It was a strange three-and-out, though, because Lloyd very clearly appeared to catch a first-down pass for an eight-yard gain, but the play was ruled incomplete. Bill Belichick elected not to challenge the play, as the risk of losing a timeout in a 7-point game far outweighed the gain of an 8-yard play. However, it definitely stung, as a 5-yard completion to Welker set up an incompletion to Hernandez on third down.

The Jaguars take over, down seven, from their own 34.

Fourth quarter, 8:42, 23-16 Patriots: The Patriots really could have used another stop there in order to demoralize the Jags, but they instead allow the Jaguars to drive 56 yards to set up a Josh Scobee field goal. The Pats’ lead is now seven points. Another touchdown for the Patriots could put this out of reach, but a short drive and a punt? We’d have ourselves a ballgame again.

Fourth quarter, 12:04, 23-13 Patriots: From the Pats’ Twitter feed: Gostkowski now has a career-high 149 points on the season. 6 away from tying Gino Cappelletti’s #Patriots franchise record 155.

Fourth quarter, 14:15, 23-13 Patriots: With Welker being the one who got the Patriots down the field to begin with, it was fitting he was the one to finish it off with a touchdown.

After two failed runs from inside the 2-yard line, Brady made a call at the line, motioning Hernandez wide left and Welker in from the right for a stack formation with Lloyd. Brady took the snap, looked only at Welker, waited for the receiver to gain some space running a quick out, and hit Welker in the numbers. Welker hauled it in and crossed the front plane of the end zone for the score.

Welker had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown on that drive. He now has 78 receiving yards and nine rushing yards on the day.

End of third quarter, 16-13 Patriots: After Week 1, Wes Welker was written off as being “phased out.” Today, he might be an MVP.

Once again, Brady looked Welker’s way in order to move down the field, and it worked. Welker hauled in a 25-yarder, which was the highlight of the drive as Welker had to reach out while running across the field to make the catch.

When the fourth quarter resumes, the Patriots will have a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Third quarter, 3:32, 16-13 Patriots: The Pats’ D forces another punt, and Welker has a nice little return to set the Patriots up on their own 41.

Third quarter, 4:57, 16-13 Patriots: Not a good series for the Pats, as Brady ends up on his back on three of four plays. One of those resulted in a personal foul on Mincey for making helmet-to-helmet contact with Brady, but he was sacked on the following play, and the Pats never made up the yardage.

Mesko’s punt was fair caught inside the 10-yard line. Let’s see what Henne has left in his bag of tricks.

Third quarter, 6:39, 16-13 Patriots: The Pats took one step toward evening out that turnover imbalance, with Marquice Cole jumping in front of a Chad Henne pass and making the pick. Like I said, Henne has looked horrible, and that only continued.

Third quarter, 8:51, 16-13 Patriots: Three-and-out for the Pats’ offense, as again the receivers struggle to find any open space despite plenty of time to operate for Brady in the pocket.

Mesko’s punt sets the Jaguars up at their own 39-yard line. Henne and the offense has looked horrible for more than a quarter now, so maybe we’ll see the Jags go to the ground here.

Third quarter, 9:32, 16-13 Patriots: Chad Henne has fallen back to earth since that amazing first quarter, and he’s struggling to hit open receivers. That struggle led to another Jacksonville punt. Wes Welker fair caught it just inside his own 10-yard line, and the Patriots have a long way to go in order to extend this lead.

Third quarter, 11:44, 16-13 Patriots: It took a while, but the Patriots have their first lead of the game.

The offense went to Lloyd on three of the first five plays of the half, with the receiver looking a whole lot better than he did in the first half. The Pats drove to the Jacksonville 20, and Danny Woodhead might have had another touchdown reception if not for defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey’s excellent coverage and play on the football.

Gostkowski drilled his third field goal of the day, and the Pats take the lead.

Third quarter, 13-13: We are under way.

Halftime, 13-13: Wow, it looks like somebody woke up the Patriots’ safeties. Patrick Chung just delivered a clean shot on Tony Clemons, and two plays later, Steve Gregory rocked Shipley over the middle after the receiver hauled in a meaningless pass with zeroes on the clock.

Again, it was an ugly, ugly start, and the Patriots can’t get those two turnovers back, but they did enough to climb out of their hole and start over again in the second half. The Patriots will receive on the other side of halftime.

Second quarter, :18, 13-13: Well, it was a rather ugly first half, but the Patriots have done enough to at least get a re-start in the second half.

The Patriots used a heavy dose of Wes Welker to drive to the Jacksonville 14. Brady then hit Woodhead on a swing pass to the left side, and the running back was uncovered. He stumbled a bit, holding the ball out with just one hand, but regained his footing to run in for the score to tie the game.

Welker had 33 receiving yards on four catches on the drive.

Second quarter, 3:49, 13-6 Jaguars: The Patriots got their stop, thanks to a costly first-down holding penalty, a Cecil Shorts drop and great pressure from Tracy White to force a third-down incompletion.

Aqib Talib, holding his left hip after almost every play, was in position to pick off the lofted pass, but Jordan Shipley got a hand on the pass to essentially break up the pick.

Second quarter, 5:25, 13-6 Jaguars: The Patriots have to settle for a field goal after Aaron Hernandez is curiously called for illegal motion on a third-down catch-and-run that would’ve set up a red zone first down. I say curiously because it looked on replay like Hernandez simply started moving before the snap, which should have just been a simple false start penalty, but instead the officials let the play go on before calling the penalty.

Nevertheless, Brady escaped pressure on third down but had his arm hit while making his pass, nearly leading to his third interception of the day. Paul Posluzny couldn’t grab it, though, and Gostkowski booted his second field goal of the day just inside the right upright.

The Patriots need a stop and a score to tie this thing up before halftime. Both have proven to be tough tasks thus far.

Second quarter, 10:38, 13-3 Jaguars: The Patriots’ D forces a three-and-out, though Chad Henne gets the assist for a horrible pass on third-and-1 that should have kept the chains moving. Wes Welker returned the punt and got hit pretty hard by a whole swarm of black jerseys, reminding everyone why it’s not ideal to have to use Welker in that role.

Second quarter, 12:09, 13-3 Jaguars: The Patriots’ offense goes three-and-out. Brandon Bolden had a minimal gain on first down then got stuck in a mess of bodies on second down while trying to run a little out route, breaking up the flow of that play. On third-and-9, no receivers were open, and despite Brady’s best efforts to give them time, he had to throw the ball away.

Second quarter, 13:07, 13-3 Jaguars: The Jaguars kick a field goal and now have six points off turnovers. While the six points hurt, what’s killed the Patriots thus far has been simply not having the ball. All year, the Patriots have won games by winning the turnover battle. Right now, you’re seeing what happens when they don’t take care of the football.

The Jags’ drive there stalled after a holding call on a second-and-1 took away a first down. On third down, Trevor Scott broke free from Chad Henne’s right and got in a heavy shot on the QB as his throw sailed incomplete.

End of First Quarter, 10-3 Jaguars: The good news? Tom Brady’s hand seems OK. The bad news? He just threw his second interception in three possessions.

The interception came on a deep pass over the middle to Brandon Lloyd. Derek Cox simply jumped in front of Lloyd and made a better effort on the ball, and he fell to the ground with the ball in his gut.

Making matters worse, the Jags ran a fake end-around screen pass, and Montell Owens caught it and ran with it for 53 yards, moving the Jags from their own 26 all the way to the Patriots’ 20.

First quarter, 1:15, 10-3 Jaguars: The Pats catch a bit of a break, with Josh Scobee pulling a 43-yarder wide left.

First quarter, 3:08, 10-3 Jaguars: There’s really no need for concern with the current score, but CBS cameras just caught Brady showing some apparent pain in his throwing hand. That is something worth concern. We’ll see if it affects Brady going forward.

First quarter, 3:15, 10-3 Jaguars: The Patriots’ offense moved with ease down the field in a very short time, but the drive ultimately stalled out inside the 10-yard line. Stephen Gostkowski nailed his chip shot, and the Patriots are on the board.

The big play of the drive came on a 32-yard pass to Michael Hoomanawanui, who was left uncovered over the middle of the field while Brady stood in the pocket for an extended period of time.

Ridley also rushed for 41 yards on four carries on that drive, which was run with the type of fast pace the Patriots used against Denver earlier this season.

First quarter, 5:43, 10-0 Jaguars: The Jags take advantage of the turnover, driving 26 yards and setting up a 41-yard field goal for Josh Scobee.

After a first down incompletion, Marquice Cole blitzed from the slot to stuff a run, forcing a third-and-13. Henne completed a pass to Marcedes Lewis, but he was forced out of bounds short of the sticks.

The Patriots certainly have a hole they’ll need to dig themselves out of, something not many folks expected heading into this one.

First quarter, 8:49, 7-0 Jaguars: This is a rather ugly start for the Patriots. Following a defensive pass interference penalty and a short Ridley run, Brady lobbed a deep pass down the left sideline to Ridley. The running back bobbled the pass, and it bounced in the air and then directly into the hands of Jaguars safety Chris Prosinski.

The interception wasn’t Brady’s fault, per se, but he threw to a guy who was covered and ultimately paid the price.

First quarter, 9:34, 7-0 Jaguars: The Jaguars are beating the Patriots.

True, it’s much too early in this one to be worried, but the ease with which Chad Henne led the Jaguars 78 yards on nine plays is at least a bit startling early on.

Much of the damage was done through the air, and with Aqib Talib not starting and Devin McCourty back at corner, things just do not look good early for the Pats’ D. The Jags faced just one third down, and Chad Henne went 6-for-6 for 56 yards and a touchdown toss to Justin Blackmon.

1:02 p.m.: Here’s a non-shocker: The Pats won the coin toss and elected to defer. Stephen Gostkowski kicked into the Jaguars’ end zone, and they’ll begin at the 21-yard line.

1 p.m.: Ready for kickoff?

12:25 p.m.: Fitting with the theme of this game, there’s not much in terms of exciting pregame news. So here are a few thoughts as we’re about a half-hour away from kickoff.

–The only debate in the league seems to be who will be MVP: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson? Everyone who has a strong opinion will yell at you and tell you you’re crazy if you disagree, but that’s to be expected with such a subjective award. For argument’s sake, let’s say Tom Brady throws three touchdowns today and three more next Sunday. That would give him 36 on the year, with just six interceptions. The 36 TDs would be tied for his third-highest total in a season, the the 6-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio would be his third-best such mark as well as his second-lowest interception total. MVP or not, Brady has had a spectacular season at age 35.

–A 10-4 record doesn’t sound too great, especially when the Patriots are expected to win 13 games every year, but considering the team started 1-2 and 3-3, it’s a pretty excellent place to be.

–Of the things to watch for today, Stevan Ridley is the biggest. You remember he fumbled out of bounds in Week 17 last year and then turned it over against Denver in the playoffs, losing his job in the process. This year, after last week’s big fumble in the rain, it’ll be crucial for him to prove he can bounce back this week with a solid, turnover-free performance.

–With the expectation of Ryan Mallett playing at some point today, remember that he looks like Jesse Pinkman’s twin.

–The most incredible part of the Patriots’ season has been how well they’ve done without Rob Gronkowski. I believed — and I wasn’t alone — that the offense would take a huge step backward after he was injured a little over a month ago. Yet in his absence, they’ve gone 3-1 and averaged 37 points per game. They still have a chance to break their own record for points scored in a season, and even if they come up short, the fact that they didn’t really skip a beat without losing their most dangerous weapon tells you a lot about Tom Brady and the offense.

12:02 p.m.: There are many playoff implications around the league today. From a Patriots perspective, the Bengals-Steelers game is worth keeping an eye on at 1 p.m., as the winner of that game will likely be the Patriots’ wild-card round opponent in two weeks.

At 4 p.m., you’ll want to keep a hopeful eye on the Browns-Broncos game and hope for a Christmas miracle for Cleveland. Don’t hold your breath on that one, though.

11:28 a.m.: Aqib Talib will be playing through the pain, as he was not listed on the Patriots’ inactive list.

The Patriots inactives are:

Markus Zusevics
Jake Bequette
Ron Brace
Alfonzo Dennard
Rob Gronkowski
Brandon Spikes
James Develin

The Jaguars inactives are:

Rashad Jennings
Maurice Jones-Drew
Antwaun Molden
Jonathan Grimes
Brandon Marshall
Eben Britton
Austen Lane

11:15 a.m.: Reports from Jacksonville say that Aqib Talib did not look good at all during pregame warmups, so he may be out of action this afternoon. We’ll know in about 15 minutes.

10:30 a.m.: After a huge Monday night showdown with the AFC-leading Texans and an equally thrilling Sunday night game against Super Bowl threat San Francisco, the Patriots are now preparing for a game with a bit less fanfare heading in.

The 10-4 Patriots will take on the 2-12 Jaguars in a game that should be an easy one for Bill Belichick’s crew. However, in this league, you never know when strange things will happen, so we’ll wait to see how this one plays out before jumping to any conclusions.

The Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and linebacker Brandon Spikes. If this were the first week of the playoffs, I’d bet you’d be seeing all three of them, but because they’re facing one of the worst teams in the NFL in a game they don’t desperately need to win, the team opted to give those players an extra week of rest for their injuries.

The rest of the inactive Patriots and Jaguars will be announced around 11:30 a.m., so I’ll provide that update when it comes. For now, feel free to check out the Patriots-Jaguars predictions from WBZ’s finest, four items to watch for from our own @MattyGWBZ, and the always-entertaining fun facts from Mr. Levan Reid.

And while it may not be the most exciting matchup, and while it doesn’t fall into the “must-win” category, the Pats still have a lot to play for. They need to win their final two games — today against Jacksonville, next Sunday against Miami — in order to have a chance at a first-round playoff bye. In order to get it, they’ll need Denver to drop a game against Cleveland this week or next week against the Chiefs. That’s unlikely, but it is the NFL, so you never know. All the Patriots can do is win their games and hope for something crazy to happen in Denver.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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