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Snap Judgments: Patriots hang on to beat Jaguars, 23-16

12.23.12 at 4:09 pm ET
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In a game that was occasionally messy, the Patriots held on to beat the homestanding Jaguars Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville, taking a 23-16 decision to move to 11-4 on the season. New England was led by Tom Brady, who went 24-for-41 for 267 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Stevan Ridley had 18 carries for 84 yards, while Wes Welker added 10 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Chad Henne was 29-for-51 for 348 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions on the afternoon.

Here are a few quick notes:

WHEN WENT RIGHT

‘€¢After having some issues in the first quarter-plus on the afternoon, the New England offense got it cranked up in the second and into the third quarter, putting 20 unanswered points on the board and turning a 13-3 deficit into a 23-13 fourth-quarter lead. The Patriots best drive of the game came at the end of the second quarter, a 10-play, 66-yard sequence that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead that tied the game at 13 with less than a minute to go in the first half. The drive was highlighted by a direct snap to Ridley and an 11-yard pass play to Welker.

‘€¢A good day for the backfield, as Woodhead continues to be an important and versatile part of the offense — he had one receiving touchdown, and would have had a second if not for a terrific defensive play by Jacksonville’s Jeremy Mincey, who knocked the pass away at the last minute. In addition, running back Ridley bounced back nicely after a rough week against the Niners with 84 yards. (He’s 30 carries away from 300 — if he can hit the mark in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins next week, he’ll become the first 300-carry back for the Patriots since Corey Dillon turned the trick in 2004.)

‘€¢The two leading receivers — Brandon Lloyd and Welker — had another good game as a tandem. After finishing with 10 catches last week against the Niners, Lloyd had six catches for 62 yards Sunday in Jacksonville. As for Welker, he had 10 catches for 88 yards. Welker now has five seasons with at least 110 catches. No player in NFL history has more than two.

‘€¢After not showing much over the last few weeks — perhaps he’s been slowed by an ankle injury he suffered last month against the Colts — rookie defensive end Chandler Jones delivered a key fourth-quarter play to lift the New England defense. Down by seven in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville decided to take a shot for the end zone on fourth down. But Jones came off the edge and delivered a great shot on Henne, which affected the route of the ball. The pass was picked off by Patrick Chung. (The first of two picks on the afternoon for Chung.) Jones has struggled over the last few weeks, but it was a big play at a big time for the rookie out of Syracuse.

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€¢The Patriots were extremely sluggish out of the gate, as they had issues on both sides of the ball when it came to keeping up with the woeful Jags. A large portion of that was likely due to the fact that New England was going with a lot of relatively new personnel combinations on both sides of the ball (because the Patriots wanted to get a look at some youngsters, as well as the fact that they were dealing with some injury). While it’s tough to fault them because some of it was due to new faces in new places, the slow start was initially a cause for concern.

‘€¢In that same vein, the Jags were able to take advantage of some confusion in the New England secondary and hit on some big pass plays. Jacksonville had some big plays early, including a 53-yarder to Montell Owens, a 36-yarder to Jordan Shipley and 18-yard pass plays to Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III.

‘€¢The New England offensive line is going through a rough patch. Brady was sacked just three times from Week 6 to Week 12. He’s now taken 11 sacks from Week 13 through Sunday.

‘€¢Chung was targeted in coverage on several occasions, and ended up taking a costly helmet-to-helmet hit late in the game on Shorts. He did come away with a pair of picks, but in between, it was a rough afternoon for the safety.

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