BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots didn’t play at 100 percent Sunday afternoon against the Jets, but they answered the bell when it rang.
Their 22-17 victory was a clutch win against a team that plays tough whenever the Patriots are on the other side of the field. It wasn’t a pretty 60 minutes of football, but it was good enough for New England’s ninth win of the season.
Here are your gold stars and penalty flags from Sunday’s win over the Jets:
– Malcolm Mitchell gets a gold star. We are starting to see the rookie receiver carve out his role in the Patriots’ offense. We learned a couple of things in Mitchell’s two touchdown game, most importantly that Tom Brady trusts him in tight, game-winning spots. We also now know that what everyone saw in the preseason was right on; Mitchell can get separation and he’s able to focus on the field.
The rookie dropped a tough pass early in the game but he didn’t let it get him down. The Pats needed another receiving threat when Rob Gronkowski went down early, and Mitchell handled the role well and executed.
– Parts of the Pats’ defense gets gold stars. The New England defense came into the game needing to force some turnovers, and they did just that. Malcolm Butler started that train when he punched the ball away from Jets receiver Robby Anderson. The interesting part of that play was that Butler got beat but didn’t give up on the play. Nice!
Then, to close out the game, Chris Long strip-sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trey Flowers came up with the recovery. The Pats had been close to sacking Fitzpatrick a number of times during this game but the QB was able to get the ball out before they could get to him. When the defense needed to make a play, they finally did. Hopefully this will start an upward trend for the defense.
– Tom Brady gets a gold star. It was clear the quarterback was fighting through an injury, but it was no problem as he got the job done. Brady took some crazy hits from the tough Jets defensive front, but that too was no problem, as he got up, dusted himself off and never left the game. This is why he now has 200 career wins.
In the end, the biggest stat for Tom Brady is availability. He always plays and that’s why he always has a chance to win. The feeling in MetLife Stadium on the winning drive was comical; every fan in the stands knew what was going to happen. Jets fans were saying, “we’ve seen this before” and Pats fans were saying, “here it comes again.” When I got back to the hotel after the game there was a Jets fan walking around and chatting to Pats fans, and he kept saying, “your time is gonna come, Brady won’t be here forever.”
That’s true, but while TB12 is playing, expect this type of effort until he can’t do it any more.
– Stephen Gostkowski gets a penalty flag. I thought he was done with the misses but they’re back, as he missed a 39 yard field goal on Sunday.
Gostkowski has now missed four field goals and three extra points this season. Again, he’s not the worst kicker out there, but he’s no longer the best. The Pats probably won’t make a change this season, but they may bring in some kickers for next year just to put Stephen on notice.
– Darrelle Revis gets a penalty flag. Brady swears that Revis is injured, and maybe he’s right. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Revis has played the last two season in less-than-top shape. He was the best at his position but then he stopped working hard. He gained weight. At 31, many are staying he can play safety. Maybe he can, but he just looks uninterested in the game right now.
In the past, no one threw to Revis’ side of the field. On Sunday, the Pats went to a rookie, Malcolm Mitchell, to beat Revis on their game-winning drive. How fast have the mighty fallen?
And just a quick point worth mentioning: Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson, Ty Law, Rod Woodson, Champ Bailey and Darrell Green all played solid, game-changing football into their mid 30s. Revis doesn’t seem to be on that same path.