We could point to two teams being out of the playoff hunt and their season finale being played in the middle of a snowstorm as aggravating factors.
We could also mention that both defenses were top-notch all season, the Belichicks were home, and despite the stakes, the Little Bills definitely did not want to lose to and get pummeled by the Salehs.
In other words, the playing field was fairly level at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. So it can be said that statistically, the Jets played one of the NFL's best defensive games of the past three decades in crushing the Patriots 17-3.
"We just dominated," S Tony Adams said after the game. "We did what our coaches told us to do. We just dominated our one-on-ones, it's that simple."
The chart below shows the basis for such value judgments as "one of the best" and "domination." The Jets snow-angeled New England's offense and QB Bailey Zappe into submission, intercepting him twice, breaking up 10 of his passes and sacking him seven times. The run defense joined forces with the pass D in allowing the Pats 119 yards of total offense.
Since 1991, when PDs started to be regularly charted, only four times has a defense allowed 3 points or fewer and less than 125 yards, and totaled 2+ INTs, 8+ PDs and 7+ sacks, Here are some details on those four games:
|1991 Gm 3
|90 / 3 / 8 / 11
|2013 Gm 15
|103 / 2 / 9 / 7
|2023 Gm 8
|58 / 2 / 8 / 7
|2023 Gm 16
|119 / 2 / 10 / 7
A day later, MLB and captain C.J. Mosley expanded on Adams' postgame soundbite as he praised his unit's game and season from start to finish under trying circumstances.
"In my humble opinion, from being in the game and watching it again last night, I would say you see a difference in how we performed, our effort, our passion that we played with," Mosley said. "When you're not playing for the playoffs, that's what you want to see from a team. I think that's just our coaches and players not giving up, not making excuses for how the season went, and each person looking within himself and trying to figure out, how can I get better each week to try to provide for our team?
"I think that was just a product of the guys loving the game and playing for each other."
This is a good spot to mention that the Jets also led the NFL in opponents' yards gained/play at 4.57 yards. It's the Jets' best average and their best finish since they finished first in allowing 4.24 yards/play in 2009.
The Jets posted plenty of other noteworthy numbers this season. Here are three sets of numbers, one each for an offensive, defensive and special teams player, to wrap up today's story. More season statistics, on Garrett Wilson, Quincy and Quinnen Williams and others, to come next week.
Offense: Breece It to Me One More Time
Breece Hall is the gift that keeps on giving. Of all the distinctions he finished the season with, we'll add this one, an update of a note during the season. With his 50-yard touchdown run to seal the Jets' win at New England, Hall has six scrimmage plays of 50-plus yards in his career (four rushes, two receptions). That ties the franchise's record for most career 50-plus plays in a career by a running back, held by Freeman McNeil.
This is no slight on McNeil, the Ring of Honor RB, but he didn't get his sixth 50-plus until 1991 vs. Miami, in the 131st game of his fabled Jets career. Hall has gotten his sixpack in the first 24 games of his career. The future looks scary good for the young speedster from the state of Kansas and Iowa State.
Defense: Pass Rush in a Huff
Bryce Huff finished with a flourish, notching two of the seven Zappe sacks Sunday. That secured the team sack title for Huff this season with 10 in all, ahead of Jermaine Johnson's 7.5 in second. Huff is the first edge/outside rusher to lead the Jets with double-digit sacks since John Abraham had 10.5 in his final Jets season of 2005. (In between, Quinnen Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson did it as inside players.)
And Huff is the only one among the NFL's 24 double-digit sackers to have 10+ sacks in fewer than 500 total defensive plays. He had 480 D-snaps for the season.
Special Teams: T-Mo Resets Some Standards
Thomas Morstead punted well despite the adverse weather conditions at Foxboro and secured the franchise records for highest gross average (48.8, topping Braden Mann's one-year-old mark of 46.9 in '22) and best net average (41.8, edging Lachlan Edwards' 41.6 in 2019). Morstead's 54 punts of 50-plus yards easily led the NFL, as did his seven inside-the-5 punts, and his 36 inside-the-20s placed second to Patriots rookie Bryce Baringer's 38.