Patriots-Jets takeaways: Awful season fittingly ends with ugly loss

Patriots-Jets takeaways: Awful season fittingly ends with ugly loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots' nightmare season is finally over.

The Patriots lost 17-3 to the New York Jets in Sunday's Week 18 finale at Gillette Stadium. It was a fitting end to the worst season for the Patriots in 30 years. New England finishes with a 4-13 record at the bottom of the AFC standings. They have also finished last in the AFC East division for the first time since 2000.

There will be plenty of offseason and draft coverage in the days, weeks and months to come. The most prominent storyline is the future of head coach Bill Belichick.

But before we look too far ahead, here are four takeaways from Patriots-Jets.

Top-three pick secured

The Patriots have secured at least the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which is great for the franchise because it assures them a chance to select one of the top three quarterback prospects or the top wide receiver available, Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr.

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New England could still move up to the No. 2 pick, but that would require the Washington Commanders losing to the Dallas Cowboys late Sunday afternoon. The chances of the Commanders winning are pretty low considering they are an awful team, plus the fact the Cowboys need a victory to secure the NFC East title and the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The last time the Patriots had a top-five pick was 1994 when they selected USC linebacker Willie McGinest at No. 4 overall. Time will tell if their 2024 pick enjoys as much success in Foxboro as McGinest, who won three Super Bowl titles as a Patriot.

The streak is over

The Patriots had beaten the Jets 15 consecutive times entering Sunday, which was easily the longest active win streak versus one opponent in the league.

It's now over.

The Jets' win over the Patriots is their first since Week 16 of the 2015 campaign. The last time the Jets won at Gillette Stadium was a 2010 AFC Divisional Round playoff game in January of 2011. New York's last regular season win in New England came in 2008.

The new longest active win streak over a single opponent belongs to the Green Bay Packers, who have beaten the Chicago Bears nine straight times. The Packers play the Bears in the late afternoon window in Week 18.

The football... it was ugly!

The Patriots have played some really exciting snowstorm games in their history. Sunday's matchup will not make that highlight reel.

New England's offense failed to score a single touchdown for the fifth time this season. It will finish as the lowest-scoring unit in the league after averaging just 12.1 points per game.

Bailey Zappe made his sixth consecutive start of the season at quarterback and completed just 12 of his 30 pass attempts for 88 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. In fairness to Zappe, it was a brutal day to throw the football given the weather conditions.

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The Patriots gained just 120 total yards of offense and picked up only six first downs. New England's offensive line also had a tough time against the Jets' defensive front and allowed seven sacks.

The most exciting play for the Patriots was a 17-yard run by wide receiver Jalen Reagor on a reverse.

The focus for the Patriots over the next few months has to be upgrading the offense in a significant way. The product this team has put on the field over the last two seasons has been nothing short of pathetic.

Last game for Bill Belichick and Matthew Slater?

Did we just witness the end of two magnificent Patriots careers?

There have been plenty of rumors and speculation over the future of Bill Belichick. He has been the head coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, and in that time the franchise has enjoyed more success than any team in professional sports, highlighted by six Super Bowl titles.

But after missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons since Tom Brady left, it's fair to wonder if a change is needed. Belichick reportedly will meet with Patriots ownership -- Robert and Jonathan Kraft -- on Monday to discuss the plan going forward.

Matthew Slater also might have played in his last game with the Patriots. Players and team personnel honored Slater by wearing special hoodies before the game.

The 16-year veteran is one of the best special teams players in league history. He has been selected to 10 Pro Bowls and eight All Pro teams. In addition to his excellent performance on special teams, Slater also has been a great leader and longtime captain for the Patriots. He's a lock to get inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, and he might even get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point.