FOXBOROUGH — It’s never hard to spot Chase Winovich on the football field.
With his golden hair flowing out of the back of his helmet and his engine always revving in the fifth gear, it’s impossible for the Patriots defensive end to sneak up on an offense.
That mattered little Sunday as the Jets couldn’t keep Winovich out of their backfield or off their quarterback in New England’s 28-14 win at Gillette Stadium.
Winovich, sporting an oversized protective contraption on his right hand after an early injury — it looked like a taped-up mitten — played through the intermittent snowflakes as if his locks were on fire.
He finished with six tackles, including a pair of sacks, and three hits landed on Sam Darnold.
Winovich had a team-high 5½ sacks this season and figures to be a huge part of the Patriots defense moving forward.
“I thought Chase played hard, like he always does,” said coach Bill Belichick. “Brought some good pressure, some inside pressure on the quarterback. With Josh Uche out, Chase stepped up, Rashod Berry stepped up, played some for us, too.’'
Winovich spearheaded an attack that never really let Darnold get comfortable.
“Overall, we had decent pressure on the quarterback, forced him out of the pocket a couple times, at least knocked him down a couple times there, created some longer yardage situations,’' said Belichick. “Yeah, those are positives.’'
Winovich plays with an unmistakable indefatigable presence that rubs off on his teammates.
“Chase plays hard all the time,” said the coach. “Usually plays all four phases of the kicking game. Sometimes we pull him off one, but usually at least three phases, a lot of times four. He’s a kid that has a lot of versatility for us. Certainly, the pass rush, that was good for us today from him and, like I said, Adam [Butler], Deatrich [Wise], Rashod.”
Asiasi gets on the board
Devin Asiasi finished his afternoon — and season — with two catches for 39 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots the lead for good at 21-14 early in the fourth quarter.
It’s been a trying season for the rookie, who was an effective blocker at times but never found his groove in the passing game.
“It was up and down. Just like anything, you go through your struggles throughout the whole process. Those are the things that harden you, that get you better and grow you into the person that I am right now,’' said Asiasi, who missed a seven-game stretch in the middle of the season because of injuries and personal matters. “I take all those lessons and situations and I take it forward in things that I can learn from, things that I can hold dear to my heart.
“Obviously, with the tragedy of losing two of my close family this past year, definitely made me go harder in the season. It made me cherish the moments I have with everybody around me and cherish the moments that I have with my teammates. For me, it was just about being consistent, keep working, keep grinding and try to improve every day and improve every week.”
Sony was tuned in
Sony Michel had his most productive day as a receiver, catching three passes for 60 yards and a 31-yard TD, the first of his career. Michel deflected credit for the milestone moment.
“It was a cool experience to get that first receiving touchdown, but coach [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] called the play. The offense executed, and once I got the opportunity to catch the ball, I’m just trying to make a play in space and I was able to reach the end zone,” he said.
Cam Newton is the first Patriots quarterback to catch a touchdown pass … Newton’s 49-yard run on the first drive of the game was the longest by a quarterback in Patriots franchise history, edging the previous mark set by Tom Yewcic (46 yards) in 1963. Newton finished the season with 592 yards, another franchise mark. Steve Grogan had 539 in 1978 … Punter Jake Bailey allowed a total of just 71 punt return yards on 12 returns. It is the fewest punt return yards allowed by the Patriots in team history and the sixth-fewest punt return yards allowed in a season in NFL history … Gunner Olszewski finished tops in the NFL with a 17.3-yard punt return average (20 returns for 346 yards). It is also the highest return average in Patriots history. Julian Edelman had the previous mark at 15.5 in 2012 …The Patriots held a moment of silence before the game in honor of those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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