And the injuries mounted: Dont'a Hightower, Derek Rivers, Shea McClellin, Marcus Cannon, Nate Ebner, Malcolm Mitchell.
Dion Lewis totaled 133 yards and scored two touchdowns, Tom Brady tossed a pair of touchdown passes and the Patriots locked up the AFC's No. 1 seed with a 26-6 victory against the New York Jets in arctic conditions at Gillette Stadium.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also emerged a 28-24 victor over the Cleveland Browns to finish with an identical 13-3 mark, but the Patriots clinched the top seed due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
If we now were talking about some 25-year-old journeyman, then the sequence of events that got Harrison cut would be unexcusable. Bryce Petty made his third straight start in Sunday's season finale and looked very much the same as he did the previous two weeks _ inaccurate, inconsistent and unproductive.
But prior to Brandin Cooks' 5-yard touchdown catch with 4:14 to go in the second quarter, bad habits from earlier in the regular season crept back in to the Patriots' offensive repertoire.
The Jets were looking strong earlier in the season after a three-game win streak that brought them over.500 following their week five win over the Browns.
Right tackle, LaAdrian Waddle, who has been on and off the field for the last part of the season due to an ankle injury, was again limited in practice on Wednesday and will probably finish off the week as such.
You may remember Tom Tupa (he finished his career with one season in Washington in 2004).
"That's all you can do".
That is a risk Bill Belichick has taken in the past and a risk worth taken now, especially if Harrison continues to display the type of hard work and professionalism he has so far.
While the lack of action will certainly lead to conspiracy theories about the Patriots trying to save money, the truth is that the Patriots did not need to put their most irreplaceable weapon in harm's way.
Yes, this team has faults.
Jets rookie safety Jamal Adams is onboard with the "why not us?" attitude about toppling the Patriots in the AFC East. Harrison is one of the best players in franchise history. But, you know, chemistry-wise we are there. "But in the meantime there are things that we can do that will help us no matter who we play". Obviously we would like all the guys that are hurt to be healthy. Usually in cold weather games, the Team that scores first wins. "A lot of people said, 'Oh, it's kind of cold.' I wanted to go out there and face it a little bit - shirtless - and see where it gets me". We came out and fought with every team this year.
The last time the Jets and the Patriots met this season, it looked like a potential upset until Brady and co. were able to mount a late-game comeback.
Erik Oliver, 27, an engineer for an industrial fan company who grew up in North Attleboro and now lives in Newington, Conn., said in the short amount of time he waiting with his friends to get into Toby Keith's, his toes felt like they had frozen.
"I always wonder why I'm not playing", Harrison said.
Lewis has emerged as one of the team's MVPs in the late stage of the season. That's downright embarrassing. NY was held to just 247 total yards and 14 first downs. "We just kept pushing forward".