It’s never easy for the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Truthfully, it hasn’t been easy for them regardless of venue at all in 2018.
At the end of the way, with two weeks to prepare for Josh McCown and the New York Jets, New England achieved its top priority: coming away from North Jersey with a win, securing a 27-13 win over Gang Green to improve to 8-3 on the season.
The Patriots welcomed back Rob Gronkowski and Shaq Mason to the lineup, which combined with a steadier dose of Sony Michel made New England’s offense look at least partially representative of what it’s supposed to be. Gronkowski caught his first touchdown pass since the very first drive of the season, a 34-yard reception from Tom Brady in the first quarter which helped the Patriots erase an early 7-0 deficit.
Mason helped stabilize New England’s offensive line, keeping Brady clean for the majority of the game -- he wasn’t sacked and was hit five times. But it was the stability of the unit in the running game which truly stood out, thanks in large part to Michel’s ability to ramp up his workload.
The rookie rushed for a career-high 133 yards and a touchdown, chipping in two catches for 12 yards in the passing game.
As a group, Patriots running backs compiled 261 yards, enough for a robust 6.2 yards per carry. James White also had a career high on the ground, with 73 yards.
Julian Edelman had four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown which broke a 13-13 tie and gave New England the lead for good with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter.
The offense still didn’t look outstanding in the red zone, with Brady completing just 1 of his 6 passes inside the 20s. He forced two passes to Gronkowski on consecutive plays in the first half, both of which fell incomplete. For the entire day, Brady was 20 for 31 for 283 yards; with no interceptions, he's now gone four straight games without throwing a pick, his longest such streak since the first four games of the 2017 season.
Josh Gordon had five catches on five targets for 70 yards, while Chris Hogan had his first catches since Oct. 29 by hauling in two passes for 47 yards. In all, eight Patriots had a reception.
Brady broke yet another record in the game as well, surpassing Peyton Manning for the most career passing yards between the regular season and playoffs. He's now thrown for 79,415 yards in 301 career games.
The Patriots are back home next Sunday for the first time since Nov. 4, when they’ll welcoming in the 5-4-1 Minnesota Vikings to Gillette Stadium for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
New England still sits in the third spot in the AFC, and would be playing the Baltimore Ravens on Wild Card weekend based on current matchups.