Bryce Petty

Lewis scores twice, Patriots secure home-field with 26-6 win

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass, helping the New England Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the top seed in the AFC with a 26-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

The win clinched the seventh 13-win season for the Patriots (13-3), which is second in NFL history to San Francisco’s nine seasons. It was also Bill Belichick’s 250th career regular-season win, moving him into a tie with Tom Landry for third all-time among head coaches.

New England has defeated New York in four straight meetings, and the Patriots (13-3) haven’t lost to the Jets (5-11) at home during the regular season with Tom Brady starting since 2006. Brady’s 13th win as a starter this season tied him with Brett Favre for the most by a starting quarterback at age 40 or older.

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Lewis finished with a season-high 26 carries for 93 yards . Brandin Cooks had 11 catches for 79 yards and touchdown for New England, which will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was held without a catch for the first time this season. It was only the third time in his career that he was blanked for a game that he played in. It was also the first game in his career he was not the target of a pass for an entire game.

James Harrison, signed by New England last Tuesday after being cut by Pittsburgh, had two sacks – on consecutive plays to end the game – and finished with five total tackles and a forced fumble.

Temperatures dipped into the low-teens at kickoff, but it didn’t stop the Patriots from being aggressive at the outset.

They won the coin toss and elected to receive, going away from their typical decision to defer until the second half. Brady and the offense went to work, quickly moving 75 yards in just 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard TD run by Lewis. The drive included a fourth-down pass conversion, one of three hookups between Brady and Danny Amendola in the series.

Penalties on the Jets’ defense aided New England’s final two scores of the first half. Safety Marcus Maye was called for a 39-yard pass interference penalty early in the second quarter that set up a 5-yard TD pass from Brady to Cooks that made it 14-3.

Then just before halftime, New York cornerback Juston Burris was flagged for defensive holding on a Patriots’ third-down pass attempt. New England got into the end zone three plays later via another 5-yard TD pass, this time from Brady to Lewis.

The Jets’ offense was anemic throughout with Bryce Petty playing the entire game at quarterback after it appeared Christian Hackenberg might see his first regular-season action at some point in the finale. New York was 0 for 12 on third down and 0 for 1 in its lone trip into the red zone.

INJURIES

Jets: CB Morris Claiborne left briefly in the first quarter, but was able to return. … Maye limped off the field in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. … WR Robby Anderson left after a fourth-quarter hit from Stephon Gilmore to have his head evaluated. Coach Todd Bowles said after the game that Anderson suffered a concussion.

Patriots: LB Elandon Roberts was shaken up on a play in the third quarter.

ECLIPSING 1,000

The Patriots have three players with 1,000-plus scrimmage yards in the same season for the first time in franchise history: Lewis, Gronkowski, Cooks.

NO CATCHES

Gronkowski’s previous low this season was two catches, in the season-opening loss to Kansas City.

A three-time All-Pro, Gronkowski finished the regular season with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. ESPN reported that he was due to receive a $2 million bonus if he caught 80 passes, had 1,200 receiving yards or played in 90 percent of the team’s snaps (which he also fell short of). He would also earn the bonus if he is selected to The Associated Press All-Pro team.

FRIGID TEMPS

It was 13 degrees at kickoff, and the Patriots wanted to make sure their visitors knew it.

A thermometer was hung in the Jets’ tunnel on Sunday. New York players filed past on their way to and from the field before the game .

It was the coldest regular-season home game in Patriots history. They had a playoff games that was colder – a divisional round game against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 10, 2004, when it was 4 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like minus 10.

BELOW 50

Brady’s 48.6 completion percentage (18 of 37) marked only the second time this season he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He completed 44.4 percent (16 of 36) in the Patriots’ season-opening loss to Kansas City. Prior to that it hadn’t happened since Oct. 20, 2013 in a 30-27 road loss to the Jets.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Have a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

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Chargers stay in AFC playoff mix with 14-7 win over Jets

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers are still hanging around in the AFC playoff hunt.

They had to sweat out a 14-7 win against the New York Jets on Sunday, but they’ve been playing with little room for error all season after an 0-4 start. They’ll go into next week’s showdown against Oakland needing one more win – and a little more help elsewhere.

“That’s all we can ask for at this point, starting 0-and-4, digging the hole we dug, is to be alive in Week 17,” Rivers said. “All those games you are sick about at this point, but you’re excited to have a chance.”

Rivers threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, and Melvin Gordon ran for a score for the Chargers (8-7), who entered the weekend needing to win both of their remaining games. Rivers & Co. held up their end of things, but just barely.

Los Angeles had a tough time getting much going consistently against a spirited effort by the defense of the Jets (5-10), but didn’t need much offense in this one. Rivers finished 22 of 40 for 290 yards.

Tennessee (8-7) lost 27-23 to the Rams, and Buffalo (8-7) fell to New England 37-16 – each helping the Chargers’ playoff hopes. The Titans are home against Jacksonville next week, while the Bills are at Miami. The Chargers would be in the postseason if they win, Baltimore (9-6) beats Cincinnati and Tennessee loses.

“We’ve put ourselves in a better position, even though we don’t control our own destiny,” cornerback Casey Hayward said. “We’re still in it. You’re never out until they say, `You don’t have a chance.”‘

Gordon had 81 yards on 19 carries, but left late with an ankle injury. He remained standing on the sideline as the Chargers tried to run out the clock, and coach Anthony Lynn was not immediately sure of the severity.

Bryce Petty, making his second start this season in place of the injured Josh McCown, struggled all game. He missed open receivers and repeatedly flexed his right hand, which he banged up early in the game. But he remained in and said his hand is fine, finishing 15 of 28 for 119 yards and an interception.

“It’s frustrating,” Petty said. “This team deserves better, this offense deserves better – and I know I can make those plays.”

Bilal Powell was the bright spot for the Jets’ offense, rushing for 145 yards, including a 57-yard TD, on 19 carries.

Los Angeles took a 7-0 lead with 8:55 left in the first half on Gates’ 3-yard touchdown catch, capping a 12-play, 71-yard drive.

The Chargers had a chance to increase their advantage early in the third quarter, but Nick Rose, signed earlier this week, was wide right on a 47-yard attempt.

New York took advantage of the miss to tie it on Powell’s long touchdown run.

Los Angeles regained the lead quickly, however, on Gordon’s 1-yard run. Gordon hit the hole and pushed over the goal line with a strong second and third effort.

The Jets had a chance to tie in the closing minutes, getting a roughing-the-passer call on Joey Bosa to help extend their drive. But on fourth-and-7 from the Chargers 17, Petty’s heave to Robby Anderson in the end zone with 3:07 left fell incomplete.

“We were off-key as an offense and in the passing game,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “We’ll go back and look at the film and build from there. We didn’t make enough plays.”

GOOD HANDS

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen intercepted Petty’s desperation toss to end the first half. It was the first career interception for Allen, who was tackled by Brandon Shell. The Jets right tackle suffered a concussion on the play and was replaced by Brent Qvale in the second half.

“We wanted to put a tall guy back there that can jump, and Keenan showed why he’s back there,” Lynn said of the 6-foot-2 Allen.

HOLD ON

Los Angeles’ Travis Benjamin returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter – but it was nullified by a holding penalty on Nick Dzubnar. Instead, it went down as a 14-yard return for Benjamin.

NO MO

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was inactive after being benched at New Orleans last Sunday for being late to a team meeting.

Wilkerson practiced with the team all week, and coach Todd Bowles insisted the veteran “served his sentence” when asked if further discipline might be used. Bowles said it was “a coach’s decision” for Wilkerson to not play.

The coach declined to say whether Wilkerson’s contract situation played a role. His $16.75 million salary for next season is fully guaranteed against a serious injury.

INJURIES

Chargers: Safety Adrian Phillips re-injured an ankle. Left tackle Russell Okung was inactive with a groin injury and replaced by rookie Sam Tevi.

Jets: Defensive end Leonard Williams left in the second half with a back injury and didn’t return. Jonotthan Harrison started at center for the Jets in place of Wesley Johnson, who was active but dealt with a hip ailment all week. Right guard Brian Winters was out with an abdominal injury and Dakota Dozier started in his place.

SURPRISE START

The Jets won the opening coin toss, but deferred – and then pulled off a successful onside kick to start the game.

New York became the second team this season to attempt an onside kick to open a game, joining Tennessee (Week 1). The Jets are also the first team to successfully recover on onside kick in the first 30 seconds since Philadelphia in Week 17 of the 2012 season, according to NFL Research.

The Jets came away without any points, though, as an offensive pass interference call on Anderson and a sack by Tenny Palepoi short-circuited New York’s drive.

UP NEXT:

Chargers: vs. Oakland next Sunday.

Jets: at New England next Sunday.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ingram, Thomas lift Saints over Jets, 31-19

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the New Orleans Saints overcame three turnovers to defeat the struggling New York Jets, 31-19 on Sunday.

Michael Thomas became the second NFL player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints’ loss at Atlanta a week earlier.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback this season for the Jets (5-9), who were eliminated from playoff contentions. Petty completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice – once on a tipped pass and once on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.

His 2-yard touchdown pass to former Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire cut New Orleans’ lead to 24-19 with 1:51 left. But the Jets’ onside kick failed and Ingram broke loose for his long score while the Saints were really just trying to run down the clock.

Drew Brees completed 26 of 36 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but also was intercepted deep in his own territory to set up a Jets field goal at the end of the first half.

Thomas made four clutch catches – three for first downs and one for a touchdown – during a fourth-quarter series that put New Orleans up 24-13.

New Orleans scored 17 points on its first three drives.

Ingram had four catches for 80 yards on the first two drives, including a 54-yard gain on a screen that set up the opening field goal. Ingram also scored the game’s first touchdown, his 10th this season, on a 1-yard run that made it 10-0.

Bilal Powell briefly pulled New York to 10-7 with his 2-yard run before New Orleans quickly answered with Kamara’s TD.

The Saints stagnated after that, however, failing to score on their next seven possessions. In addition to third-down failures, New Orleans turned the ball over three times – once deep in their own territory on Brees’ errant throw and twice inside the Jets 20 on receiver Brandon Coleman‘s fumbles.

INJURIES

Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams, whose interception set up the Jets’ field goal late in the first half, left in the third quarter with concussion symptoms.

Saints tight end Michael Hoomanawanui left in the first half with concussion symptoms. Right guard Larry Warford went out with concussion symptoms late in the first half after he tried to make a tackle on Williams’ interception.

QUOTABLE

“Still got the mullet! You guys remember the mullet?” – Former kicker Morton Andersen, a Saints player from 1982-1994, speaking to the Superdome crowd while being presented his Hall of Fame ring at halftime.

UP NEXT

Jets: Host the Chargers in a game with playoff implications for San Diego.

Saints: Host the Falcons in what could be a pivotal contest in the NFC South race.

Follow Brett Martel at http://www.twitter.com/brettmartel

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL