Well, there's not much to say about this one other than New England won. The Patriots won't feel good about how their 23-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was put together, but what matters is that it came together and their hopes of earning a first-round bye remain alive after Houston fell to Minnesota.
There will be lots of talk about how New England peaked too soon and how things are beginning to unravel after they lost to San Francisco last week. Maybe those things are true. But the more likely truth is than an injury-depleted team went on the road and took a lesser opponent too lightly.
Playing without starting LB Brandon Spikes and CB Alfonzo Dennard, and with CB Aqib Talib fighting a hip injury, the Patriots allowed Jacksonville to build an early 13-3 lead while QB Tom Brady (2 of his first 9 with two interceptions) came out flat and dinged up his hand early.
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The offense got its act together and built a 23-13 lead. The defense answered with a big goal-line stop that forced a field goal, and then S Patrick Chung made an interception in the end zone on the final play of the game.
No, it wasn't ideal, and no one is going to feel good about it. But a win is a win, and a first-round playoff bye can still be earned. It's not all bad.
When the game turned: It was a back-and-forth affair in terms of one team taking control. The early turning point came when the Jacksonville offense stalled after going up 13-3, allowing New England to make several stops and build a lead. Later, it came when Jacksonville TE Zach Potter was whistled for a false start on the 1-yard line down by seven in the fourth quarter. The Jags turned the ball over on downs two plays later.
Highlight moment: Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower came up with a big sack after Potter's false start to kill the drive. … Chung's final interception will earn some highlights. … Jaguars CB Derek Cox undercut WR Brandon Lloyd for a nice interception in the first quarter. … Jacksonville DE Jeremy Mincey made a great play when he dropped back and tipped a ball away from Danny Woodhead that would have gone for a touchdown.
What they said about the result
- Brady -- “We played pretty terribly out there. It came down to the wire, our defense made some plays, but that was a bad 60 minutes of football. We got out-competed out there, outfought. We were lucky to win."
- Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- “Always good to win. Kind of got off to a slow start. I thought we were able to make some plays there to get back in the game. … Couple of good stops defensively at the end of the game. Got some more work to do.”
- Jacksonville DE Jason Babin -- He was credited with only two tackles and two quarterback hits, but on initial viewing it seemed like he was in Brady's face the whole game.
- Patriots WR Wes Welker -- One of the few players who seemed to have a productive game. He finished with 10 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
- Patriots RB Danny Woodhead -- His numbers weren't much (45 total yards), yet Woodhead provided an emotional burst with a 14-yard touchdown reception that got things started.
- Jacksonville WRs Jordan Shipley and Justin Blackmon -- The duo combined for 12 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Numbers you should know: Brady took three sacks between Weeks 6 and 12. He's been sacked 11 times in the last four games.
Injury update: Patriots -- No injuries reported, but Talib was seen clutching his hip at various times throughout the game. Jaguars -- WR Cecil Shorts took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Chung in the fourth quarter. LB Greg Jones was helped off the field in the first half with an undisclosed injury.
Going forward: Patriots -- New England hosts Miami in the season finale. Jaguars -- On the road against the Titans.
Get more Jaguars updates and analysis from Daniel Lewis @CBSJags.