Tom Brady threw short touchdown passes to Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker while the defense stiffened after a shaky first quarter as the Patriots kept their hopes of a first-round bye alive with a 23-16 win over the Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Patrick Chung's second interception of the day in the end zone as time expired preserved the victory for the Patriots, as they improve to 11-4 on the season.
The Texans lost at home to the Vikings, meaning the Patriots can still wind up with a first-round bye if they beat the Dolphins and the Texans lose next week in Indianapolis. If that scenario holds, and Denver loses once, the Patriots can clinch the top seed with a win next week.
The Jaguars appeared ready to march in for the game-tying touchdown with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars had first-and-goal at the New England 1 but then the Jaguars committed a false start to move the ball back five yards. Dont'a Hightower sacked Chad Henne back at the 10. Then, on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots 10, Chandler Jones hit Chad Henne, forcing an interception by Chung at the goal line, New England's NFL-leading seventh forced turnover in the red zone.
Welker had 10 catches, his 18th game with double figure receptions, passing hall of fame receiver Jerry Rice.
The Patriots started off miserably on both sides of the ball. After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half as they normally do, the Patriots defense allowed the 31st ranked offense to march right down the field, going 78 yards in nine plays. The drive was capped by a 3-yard TD pass over the middle from Chad Henne to Justin Blackmon.
With starting linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard out with injuries, the Patriots were force to juggle the defensive starting lineup. Patrick Chung started at safety, Rob Ninkovich started at middle linebacker and Devin McCourty moved from safety to cornerback. With confusion abound, Jacksonville managed to rack up a franchise-record 202 yards in the first quarter.
Brady was intercepted twice in the first half but the Patriots escaped serious harm, as the Jaguars converted the two rare Brady miscues into a pair of field goals. Coming into the game, Brady was 5-0 lifetime against Jacksonville, including a pair of playoff wins while throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady also felt pressure early and often in the first half, taking a pair of big hits from star defensive end Jason Babin, one of which left Brady shaking his right hand.
But Brady and the offense finally found their rhythm. Brady used an effective effort from Stevan Ridley on the ground and Danny Woodhead as a receiver out of the backfield to get the offense back on track. Brady's two biggest plays of the first half were to Woodhead. A 24-yard screen pass set up a 49-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Brady found Woodhead for 14 yards in the left flat, and Woodhead made a juggling catch and ran in for a game-tying touchdown with 18 seconds left in the half.
The Patriots opened the second half with their third straight scoring drive, capped by a 38-yard Gostkowski field goal that gave the Patriots their first lead of the day, 16-13.
Brady and the offense went three-and-out on their next series and Brady was hit hard on the next possession, winding up on the ground on three of the four snaps he took. The Patriots defense did their job, allowing just 83 yards total over the second and third quarters.
Brady engineered a 59-yard drive on nine plays, finished off when he found Wes Welker on a swing pass in the right flat. Welker fought off a tackle and extended the ball over the goal line for a touchdown with 14:20 left in the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots up, 23-13. Josh Scobee hit a 42-yard field goal to end a string of 20 straight New England points, making it 23-16 with 8:42 left in the fourth.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discussing the Patriots getting back to their normal routine now that Media Day is in the past and they're no longer answering Deflategate questions.
Rich Gannon stops by to talk about his 6 days as a New England Patriot and give another QB's perspective of deflate gate.
ESPN's John Brenkus stops by to talk about the science experiments he conducted with regards to deflate gate.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out of hardware, and give their Finals predictions
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
The Red Sox have taken over Foxwoods and Red Sox Manager John Farrell sat down with Mut and Bradford to talk about the roster and how the 2015 season is looking.
Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly and 3B Pablo Sandoval sat down with Mut and Bradford. Joe Kelly had a few interesting proclamations. First he said that 95% of pitchers use some sort of grip enhancer, and then he said he was going to win the Cy Young. Pablo leaned over and promised 10 HR's, explaining to Joe that the trick is to set the bar low.
Mut and Rob are in on the Hot Stove Show this week and they're taking calls and talking about the Red Sox pitching as we are 5 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.
Pierre McGuire talks about ways hockey players skirt the rules in the NHL and the development of Dougie Hamilton.
Pierre McGuire joins Lou, Christian and Tim to discuss the resurgent Bruins, the emergence of David Pastrnak, and former Boston College stand-out Johnny Gaudreau looking to trademark the name 'Johnny Hockey.'
We get our state of the B report from NESN's Jack Edwards, right in the midst of a 4 game winning streak and hot return for David Pastrnak.
New York radio personality Joe Beningo sits down with D&C to discuss all the topics surrounding this year's big game.
Florio talks about the latest surrounding the Patriots' handling of footballs. He also reveals that other NFL head coaches are running their own tests on footballs.
Buck talks with Dino, Gerry and Kirk about his trip to media day and his choice to go to Marshawn Lynch's podium.
Archie Manning joins the guys to preview the Superbowl and at (6:25) to discuss Peyton's future in the league and with the Broncos.
The best sounds of Christian during the Media Day festivities.
Gordie Gronkowski talks about his son's wild year and tells some stories about raising his sons.
We talk about four of our favorite Super Bowls (We only chose one Pats Super Bowl)
Dale and Michael talk to John Brenkus about the tests he did in relation to deflate gate and the conclusions he came to.
Rich Gannon tells the story of when he got drafted by the Patriots and gives his view of deflate gate.
A caller named Jumbo from California raises a question that hasn't been talked about too much, what happens if it's determined that the Patriots aren't found responsible for the deflation of the footballs?
Mut and Lenny continue talking and taking calls on deflategate, as well as hearing the sound from Kirk Minihane's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor.
Mut and Lenny are talking deflategate and what impact it could have on the Patriots organization.
Chris and comedian Mike Mulloy recap the final Raw before the Rumble and preview the Rumble itself.
Would you rather watch important games in the stadium or on TV? Also we discuss our worst experiences at stadiums.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out some hardware, and give their Finals predictions.
Ben Volin sits in with the guys and breaks down deflategate and the future of Darrelle Revis.More from this show
New York radio personality Joe Beningo sits down with D&C to discuss all the topics surrounding this year's big game.More from this show
Florio talks about the latest surrounding the Patriots' handling of footballs. He also reveals that other NFL head coaches are running their own tests on footballs.More from this show
Tony Kornheiser joins Dennis and Callahan in Arizona to discuss his comment comparing Bill Belichick to Whitey Bulger.More from this show