Compared to the disaster last week against the Ravens, the Jets looked decent this week against the Patriots. The running game showed signs of life. The offense did not turn the ball over. Sanchez threw two touchdowns. Unfortunately, decent just isn’t good enough to beat the New England, who kept pace with the Bills at 4-1 with the victory. The Jets drop to 2-3 with the loss, and easily could be 1-4 if Tony Romo did not gift wrap the game week one. Here are some key points from the game:
For a minute there, it seemed like fate
The Jets showed signs of life late in the first half when Shonn Greene plowed into the end zone and narrowed the Patriots lead to 10-7. It started to seem like fate when Antonio Cromartie picked off a pass from Tom Brady in the end zone on the last play before the half.
It was the first time Brady has ever thrown an interception in the red zone while playing a home game. To Brady’s credit, it should have been a touchdown, but the ball bounced off the hands of his usually sure-handed tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Regardless, the Jets were playing good football and they seemed to have the momentum going into the locker room at half time.
Even fate can’t save the Jets from Eric Smith
The good feelings were short lived. On the very first play of the second half, Darrelle Revis made his only mistake of the game: trusting Eric Smith.
Smith was the deep safety in zone-look. He got fooled just enough on a play-action pass to let Wes Welker get behind him for a 73-yard gain. If it wasn’t for Revis chasing him down from behind, Welker would have had a touchdown. Revis’ speed only delayed the inevitable as the Pat were able to punch the ball in a few plays later giving them a 17-7 lead.
Revis had an otherwise flawless game. He basically shut down Welker, who came into the game leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards by a wide margins. At one point Brady made a perfect floating pass to Welker for a 3-yard completion when Revis was covering him and the announcers reacted like it was the best play of the game.
Poor run defense
Led by the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Pats rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, the Jets defense was near the top of the league in rushing yardage allowed at around 90 yards per game. This year they are allowing over 130 yards per game. Meanwhile, Gang Green’s pass defense is near the top of the league. If they want to regain their status as an elite defense, they’re going to need to find a way to plug up the running lanes.
Not that the Jets were good enough that they should have won this game, but it could have been closer if not for two controversially overturned calls.
After the Welker 73-yard catch at the beginning of the second half, Brady completed a 4-yard pass to Deion Branch. Branch made a sliding catch at the 2-yard line. He went to stand up and simultaneously he was touched and he had the ball punched out as he was getting up. The ruling on the field was a fumble, which was recovered by the Jets. Belichick challenged the call and the officials decided that Branch was down by contact. It was a call that easily could have gone either way.
At the end of the third quarter, the Jets had the ball third-and-10 from their own 8-yard line. Sanchez lobbed a twenty yard pass down the left sideline that Plaxico Burress caught. The ruling on the field was he was inbounds. Again Belichick challenged, and the call was overturned. While it did seem like one of Burress’ feet came down on the sideline, there was no camera angle that indistinguishably showed that it did. The Jets were forced to punt from their own end zone and after a 25-yard return by Welker, the Pats started deep Jets’ territory and ended up with a field goal that made the score 27-14.
Even though the numbers were better, it is tough to say if this game was actually a step in the right direction. When it comes down to it, the Jets offense still only put up about 250 yards against a defense that came into the game as the worst in the league in yardage allowed at almost 500 yards per game.
If a Jet fan really wants to look on the bright side, Joe McKnight could be the jack of all trades type of player to replace Brad Smith. McKnight has looked good on kick returns. He has had a returns of 88-yards this week against the Pats and 107-yards (for a touchdown) last week against the Ravens. He can play running back and wide receiver. He has blocked a punt and pressured the quarterback on a blitz this year. Rex Ryan said that he believes McKnight will one day be a starting corner back. This is the same guy who looked lost beyond finding as a rookie at training camp last season. Go figure.
Also, Jamaal Westerman had two sacks replacing Bryan Thomas, who suffered a season ending injury last week. If Westerman can use his speed to get consistent pressure on quarterbacks, Jets fans might not miss the solid, yet unspectacular Thomas.
Righting the ship
After a three game road trip, the Jets have a chance to get on track next week at home Monday night against the Dolphins. The Dolphins are 0-4 and their starting quarterback Chad Henne is out for the season.
About the Author
Written by Fran Berkman
Francis (Fran) Berkman is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a BS in Human Development. He is currently working towards a master's degree in journalism at Hofstra University. He lives in Massapequa, NY.