FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Apparently all James Harrison needed was a chance to play.

In his first game for the New England Patriots, the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker made a positive impact in a 26-6 victory Sunday over the New York Jets that clinched the AFC’s No.1 seed.

Harrison, a 15-year veteran signed last week after being released by the Steelers, was in on five tackles and had sacks on the final two plays of the game. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Harrison was in on 27 of a possible 58 defensive plays. He was on the field for only 40 plays (with three tackles and a sack) all season before he was released by the Steelers.

“It felt good,” he said. “It felt really good.”

Harrison played sporadically in the first half, then got more action in the second half. He made his introduction to Patriots fans a loud one in the third quarter with his first tackle – an open-field cutdown of wide receiver Robby Anderson in the right flat. His defensive teammates swarmed him after that hit.

“James Harrison is who he is, that’s not a surprise,” said defensive end Trey Flowers. “He’s been doing it for so many years. It felt good for him to be doing it for us instead of against us.”

Coach Bill Belichick was impressed with not only how much Harrison picked up after only a few days of practice, but how much he retained.

“He got better every day,” said Belichick. “You could see it throughout the week … He made a couple of plays out there today. We’ll see how it goes going forward.”

And that’s OK with Harrison.

“I’m 39 years old and I’m still playing,” he said. “So I’m extremely blessed.”

WITH A game-time temperature of 13 and a wind chill of minus-2, this was the coldest regular-season home game in Patriots history. The previous record was 19 degrees on Dec. 26, 1993, for a 38-0 win over Indianapolis. The wind chill that day was also minus-2.

While the players said it didn’t affect them much – “Once you’re on the field and in the game, you don’t really think about it too much,” said running back Dion Lewis – they also said they had to make sure they kept warm.

Safety Devin McCourty said practicing outside all week – especially on Thursday where the wind chill was also below zero – prepared the Patriots.

“As much as I hate to admit it, practicing outside during the week definitely helped,” he said. “We hated every part of being out there and practicing, but I think everybody came out there today and was all, ‘This isn’t as bad as Thursday practice.’ ”

The coldest home game ever for the Patriots was the 17-14 AFC divisional playoff win over Tennessee on Jan. 10, 2004. The game-time temperature that Saturday night was 4, with a wind chill of minus-10.

According to the Patriots media staff, New England is 43-10 since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 34 or lower.

WITH THREE running backs on the inactive list – James White (ankle), Rex Burkhead (knee) and Mike Gillislee (knee) – the Patriots were a bit short-handed at that position. Only Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden (who had four carries all season entering the game) were active, with James Develin at fullback.

Lewis scored two touchdowns while rushing for 93 yards on a career-high 26 carries and also caught six passes for 40 yards. Bolden carried nine times for 46 yards.

“A lot of guys are out,” said Lewis. “Normally my role wouldn’t be that big, but you just have to embrace it.”

ROB GRONKOWSKI went into the game needing 11 catches or 116 receiving yards to trigger $2.5 million in contract incentives, but didn’t have any passes thrown to him. He can still reach the incentive if he is named first-team All-Pro, which is surely a possibility.

“Everything is good,” said Gronkowski. “We just won the (No. 1 seed). That was a big win right there.”