By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — The Patriots were always going to beat the Jets on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. The only question was how badly they would do it.
As it turned out, the Patriots put the full onslaught on the lowly Jets, ending the season with an emphatic 38-3 victory to record an 11-5 record and secure a first-round playoff bye.
Though the Jets — who finished the year 4-12 — did not provide a playoff level of resistance, there’s plenty to feel good about the way the Patriots executed in just about every possible area on Sunday afternoon.
As such, you may see a slight discrepancy in the usual number of Ups and Downs in the forthcoming list.
The quarterback that everyone’s been worried about for a month? He’s fine.
Brady completed 24 of 33 passes (72.7 percent) for 250 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Most encouraging, he looked as spry as ever while escaping pressure and running to his right before delivering a dart of a touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett in the back of the end zone.
Brady was vintage Brady, completing passes to seven different receivers, and capping off his regular season with his first four-touchdown game of the year.
The recipient of that fourth touchdown pass was Julian Edelman, who did a little bit of everything on Sunday.
He caught five passes for 69 yards and the exclamation point touchdown. He also rushed for 24 yards on two carries on that final scoring drive. And he returned four punts for 28 yards, seemingly seeking out and embracing contact in instances where making a fair catch would have been perfectly acceptable.
But, well, Edelman doesn’t always live by the “perfectly acceptable” standards.
Kyle Van Noy
The Patriots’ do-it-all linebacker had himself a pretty tremendous sequence of three plays in the third quarter.
On a first-and-10 near midfield, Van Noy ran step-for-step with running back Trenton Cannon on a deep route up the right sideline. Sam Darnold put the ball in an area to be caught, but Van Noy’s coverage was too tight for Cannon to make a play.
Two plays later, on a third-and-10, Van Noy was in the backfield as a host of Patriots swarmed Darnold. Adam Butler jarred the ball free from the QB’s hands, and Van Noy was able to swiftly scoop the ball and take off running for a 46-yard touchdown.
It was the second touchdown of the season for Van Noy, who returned a block punt in Chicago for a score in Week 7.
Thirty-nine yards and a touchdown on four receptions, 30 yards on four rushes. Just another day at work for James White.
The right guard played 100 percent of the snaps this season. That’s a lot of snaps.
Chris Hogan/Phillip Dorsett
Often considered the Milk Carton Duo for being completely absent from the passing attack, Sunday was a big day for both Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett.
Hogan caught six balls for 64 yards, while Dorsett hauled in five passes for 34 yards and a score. It was Hogan’s highest single-game catch total since Week 7, and it was Dorsett’s first touchdown since Week 4.
The cornerback capped off what should be an All-Pro season by locking down Robby Anderson, who was limited to just three catches for 24 yards.
Trey Flowers/Lawrence Guy/Adam Butler
In a battle of willpower at the line of scrimmage, it was a no contest. Flowers, Guy and Butler each recorded a sack, with Butler knocking the ball free from Darnold to produce a defensive score. Derek Rivers also recorded the first sack of his career. Flowers also recorded a forced fumble when he separated Elijah McGuire from the football, leading to a Jets turnover.
The Patriots’ defensive front also limited Jets running backs to 76 rushing yards on 22 carries.
FOUR (ONE) DOWNS (DOWN)
The Patriots’ defensive captain left the game in the third quarter after colliding with Malcom Brown on a tackle of Trenton Cannon. He was initially deemed questionable to return, but at the midway point of the fourth quarter he was downgraded to out. Having no game next week should help, but you never can know when it comes to head injuries.
That was the lone sour spot for the Patriots on this day, as they now get a week of rest before hosting a divisional round playoff game.