New England Patriots

If there’s one thing you can say about Week 17, it’s without a doubt “Thank God for New York Jets at Gillette Stadium Week.”

Matched up against the Jets’ Sam Darnold for the first time in Darnold’s career, the Patriots seemingly forced the Jets offense into their trap again and again with the exception of a few big plays, and limited them just to three points.

On the other side of things, the opening 30 minutes of play seemed to feature a ‘get-right’ kind of vibe from the Pats offense.

Here are three assorted thoughts from the opening 30 minutes of play from Foxboro…

James White ties record with touchdown grab

It’s been one hell of a grabbin’ season from Patriots running back James White, and now there’s a new record attached to it.

With the 17-yard touchdown grab that capped a nine-play, 5:00 drive, White’s catch was good for his seventh of the season, tying him with 1964’s Larry Garron for the most receiving touchdowns by a New England running back.

White entered play with 83 catches and 712 receiving yards on the season, and added two catches for 18 yards by the half’s end, with four carries for 30 yards. Dude is a weapon and a half, and will be just that when the season gets real after Week 17.

Defense comes up with key stops, turnover

For all of the panicking about the Patriots’ struggles and how it’ll destroy their hopes of being a legitimate Super Bowl threat, I think there’s something to be said for the way the defense has played of late, especially when it comes to limiting damage via points. And while we’ll have to preface all points with ‘but it’s the Jets,’ you have to like the way that the Patriots held the Jets to a field goal with multiple pass break-ups in the first quarter, and then forced a fumble after a N.E. scoring drive.

The Patriot defense made things even better for themselves with a stop on a 4th-and-3 at their own five-yard line.

That’s the kind of stuff that causes a massive swing (as the 21-3 score at that point proved) come postseason time.

Hey, so maybe Tom Brady isn’t too injured to play

Maybe Tom Brady isn’t dead.

After a Week 16 win over the Buffalo Bills that saw Brady throw the ball just 24 times (completing 13 passes and totaling just 126 yards), and amid rumors of a knee injury severely limiting Brady, the 41-year-old has responded in a big way.

In a 21-point half, Brady went 16-for-22 for 165 yards with three touchdowns. Brady’s mind was sharp as ever, too, picking out the weakness in the N.Y. defense and hitting Rex Burkhead for a touchdown as a direct result.

It’ll be interesting to see just how long the Patriots leave Brady in the game for the second half.