By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For 60 minutes on Sunday afternoon, one thing became crystal clear: The New York Jets are not good.
Not at football, at least.
Between the ill-timed penalties in the secondary, the innumerable misfires by Bryce Petty and the several drops by would-be pass catchers, the Jets appeared to only be moderately invested in winning the football game.
The end result was a football game that won’t be remembered as a classic years from now. But from the Patriots’ perspective, they did what was necessary to secure their 13th win of the season and the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a 26-6 win over the Jets.
Here are the Four Ups and Four Downs from the game.
This man is simply incredible. Every week, Lewis does something that you might otherwise believe to be impossible. And on Sunday, he was far and away the best Patriots player.
He ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and he caught six passes for 40 yards and another touchdown.
He alone accounted for roughly 40 percent of the Patriots’ offensive yardage. He was breaking tackles, driving through defenders, and looking like a man completely unaffected by the blistering cold.
Lewis has been an MVP of the team in the second half of the season, and he enters the playoffs on a hot streak.
Nobody knew what to expect from the 39-year-old who joined the team this week. As it turns out, Harrison was ready to play.
He was first noticed when dropping into zone coverage on a third-and-5 on the opening drive of the second half. He reacted to a short pass to Robby Anderson by bursting toward the line and tackling the receiver three yards shy of the first-down marker.
Harrison also closed out the second half in style. He recorded a strip-sack on Bryce Petty on the penultimate play, and then he fought through a double-team on the final play of the game to sack Petty once again.
It was garbage time, yes, but Harrison backed up all of his talk about being hungry and competitive.
He finished the game with five tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. That’s after recording three tackles, one sack and zero forced fumbles all season with Pittsburgh.
Ryan Allen (And Matthew Slater)
Yes, the punter makes this list.
On a terribly cold day, when the Patriots’ offense was not exactly firing, Allen was outstanding.
Early in the fourth quarter, he dropped a punt down on the 4-yard line. Matthew Slater caught it, and the Jets had to start a drive deep in their own territory.
On the Patriots’ next drive, Allen again dropped his punt on the 4-yard line. And again, Slater was there to down the football.
And then after Brian Hoyer’s lone drive ended with a punt, Allen took care of it all by himself, bouncing his punt out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
It was probably difficult to get a great feel on kicks in this game, given the conditions, but Allen put on a show.
Allen also finished the year with just three touchbacks all season.
Cooks didn’t have a perfect day. He stopped running on a deep route early, leading to an incompletion. He dropped a bubble screen pass off his chest on the next play.
But Cooks got hot from that point forward, and he caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. He would have had a second touchdown, too, but Tom Brady overthrew him.
Cooks also showed for the second straight week that he is skilled at drawing pass interference penalties on underthrown deep balls. This time, he drew a 39-yard penalty to help set up a Patriots touchdown.
Extra Point: Tom Brady
It wasn’t a historically great day for Brady, as he completed 48.6 percent of his passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
However, he avoided injury (objective No. 1), and he secured himself his third NFL MVP Award. At age 40, that shouldn’t be happening, yet it did.
The Patriots went 4-for-15 on third down, which was not ideal. The issue was masked a bit by some penalties committed by the Jets, including four penalties by members of the secondary that gave the Patriots free first downs. A hands to the face penalty on Jordan Jenkins negated a third-down sack and gave the Patriots another first down.
The third-down struggle obviously didn’t matter against the Jets, but it will be an area of focus for the Patriots as they prepare for the playoffs. It’s going to be cold in a couple weeks, too, so the weather will be no excuse for an offense not functioning properly.
Malcom Brown took a penalty for roughing the passer, tacking 15 yards on to a 35-yard Jets gain.
Jonathan Jones and Johnson Bademosi each took penalties on a 1-yard punt return.
Tom Brady took a penalty for intentional grounding, costing his team a field-goal opportunity.
Stephon Gilmore took a 15-yard penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Robby Anderson, moving the Jets from their own 4-yard line to the 19-yard line.
It wasn’t the most crisp performance in terms of following the rules, and in a more important game against a more worthy opponent, it could have been a problem.
The linebacker appeared to suffer an arm injury in the second half. It does not appear to be serious. But it’s challenging to conjure up four negatives from this game. So here we are.
Hey, shooters shoot. And if Bademosi got the Patriots 15 yards for this, he would have nothing to regret:
Alas, no flag flew.
Fortunately, Bademosi survived.