An important win for the Patriots against their chief divisional rival (yeah...I know Buffalo is 4-1). But, it was disappointing watching the Patriots keep the Jets in the game due to some horrible red-zone offense, dropped passes, and a special teams gaffe...that nearly cost them the game. What could have and should have been a blow-out win, was reduced to a hard-fought game. Here are my grades:I. OFFENSE:
Why can't the Pats' OL do a better job of picking up Sexy Rexy's blitzes? Poor execution in the red-zone nearly proved costly.1.) QB:
When given time, Tom was able to find the open man running through the vaunted Jets' secondary. He finished with 24 completions in 33 attempts for 321 yards, a TD, and one costly red-zone pick. It happened at the close of the first half. Though this particular throw was a wobbler, it hit TE Aaron Hernandez in his hands, and should have been caught for a TD. But, instead, the ball clanged off his hands, into the waiting arms of the hated Antonio Cromartie.
That play was sandwiched between two big plays to Wes Welker, that set up the first two Patriots' TD. There was a 32 yard laser in the first quarter, and a 73 yard bomb, in the third quarter. Though Tom has had better games, he was practically turnover free. When the Pats play the Jets and don't turn the ball over, they'll win...every time:GRADE: B+;
Injuries to Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, and Shane Vereen left the ball carrying duties in the hands of BJGE, and rookie Stevan Ridley. Believe it or not, there's been a ton of talk that Ridley should be the Pats' #1 RB option. But today, BJGE showed why he is the Pats' top RB...rushing for 136 yards on 27 attempts, and two TDs. With the score at 27-21 late in the fourth quarter, Green-Ellis took the game over, and made sure that the Jets wouldn't get a chance to overtake the Pats. Huge 14 yard run on a 3rd and 4, late in the 4th quarter, might have been the play of the game. The "ground n' pound" today was by Benny, not the Jets: GRADE: A;
The "Big Uglies" had plenty of problems picking up the Jets' blitz packages...as they allowed Tom Brady to be sacked 4 times, and hit on numerous other occasions. But, pretty much throughout the game, and especially late in the 4th quarter, this unit dominated the Jets front seven, as the Patriots were able to run out the clock on the Goblins:GRADE: B;
It was great having Aaron Hernandez back. Though he clearly was not 100%, he took some of the heat off of Wes Welker, contributing contributing 5 catches for 56 yards. But, the aforementioned drop he had at the end of the first half cost the Patriots a TD. Though Rob Gronkowski had just 4 catches for 31 yards, he also contributed with his blocking in the running game. But, he wasn't much of a factor in the red-zone. Nonetheless, both TEs contributed mightily on the Pats' third TD drive in the 3rd quarter (Brady to Gronk to convert a 3rd and 13, and a 3rd and 2 to sustain the 77 yard drive...and a 21 yard play from Brady to Hernandez to put the Pats in scoring position), which staked the Pats to a commanding 24-14 lead: GRADE: B-;
Though the Jets surely made him a marked man, somehow, someway, the "Wild Wild Wes" found a way. Though held to just 5 receptions, he had those huge aforementioned 32 and 73 yard plays, which set up TDs...as he finishing with 124 receiving yards. Deion Branch also chipped in with a solid 7 catches for 74 yards, and a TD:GRADE: B+;
By far, this unit's best game of the season. Though some of the credit must go to the somewhat punch-less Jets, this group by and large shut "The Shanchize" down. The "D" allowed the Jets to convert on just 3 of 11 third down attempts, and just 255 total yards of offense. That said, the "D" couldn't stop the Jets in the red-zone. Nonetheless, as well as the "D" played today, the Jets had no business being within 6 points of the Pats, late in the 4th quarter;1.) DL:
Though the Jets tried to "ground and pound", for the most part, they couldn't. DTs Kyle Love and Vince Wilfolk were able to clog up the running lanes, clearing things for the LBs and safeties to make tackles. DE Andre Carter had a strong game with 7 tackles, of which four were solos. But, as usual, there was a minimal rush from the front four...although Mark Anderson was able to wrap up Mark Sanchez in the dying seconds:GRADE: B;
Nice job by LBs Gary Guyton and Brandon Spikes in relief of Jerod Mayo...as the two combined for 15 tackles, 9 of which were solos. Jets RBs and TEs did no damage throughout the game. OLB Rob Ninkovich assisted on 6 tackles, and was credited with half of sack:GRADE: B+;
Solid play from safeties Patrick Chung and ex-Jet, James Ihedigbo, as the two combined for 15 tackles, including 9 solos. Although nearly always a pain in the neck for the Pats, Jets' TE Dustin Keller was an invisible man today. Aside from letting Jets' WRs Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Curley slip away for easy TD receptions, the CBs by and large were effective...as the Jets passed for only 166 yards:GRADE: B;
III. SPECIAL TEAMS:
Aside from the performance of kickers Stephen Gostkowski (3 FGs) and Zoltan "The Magnificent" (51.3 yard average on 4 punts), the special teams were terrible. The Jets Joe McKnight had a couple of excellent kickoff returns, including one for 88 yards. It came immediately after Wes Welker huge 73 yard catch...which led to a TD, and a 17-7 Patriots lead. It gave the Jets a gift TD...and allowed them to stay in the game, at 17-14. There was also a Wes Welker fumble in the first quarter...which the Patriots fortunately were able to recover. Such mistakes cannot be tolerated, nor made, especially against good teams. Welker would subsequently make a beautiful 25 yards punt return near the end of the 3rd quarter, setting up a Gostkowski FG.GRADE: C-; IV. COACHING:
Good job by BB and the boys in eliminating the TE and RB from the Jets' passing offense...which forced Mark Sanchez to beat them by throwing down-field. But, the "D" couldn't stop the Jets in the red-zone, and the "O" got held to FGs on a couple of occasions.
Yes...this was a win. But I'm bothered by the fact that although the Patriots outplayed the Jets the way they did...that this was still a close game. The reasons for this are that the Pats are still having problems dealing with the Jets' blitz packages. This is leading to Tom Brady being hit/sacked too often. Furthermore, mistakes such as dropped passes, and poor special teams' play, must be cleaned up...if the Pats hope to have Peyton Manning watching them play in Indianapolis, this February:GRADE: B;
V. PLAYS OF THE GAME:
The obvious pick is the 73 yard Brady to Welker bomb at the start of the 3rd quarter...which led to the Pats increasing their lead to 17-7. But, that play was practically negated by the McKnight 88 yard kickoff return, which led to the gap being closed to 17-14.
The games' biggest play might have been on a 3rd and 13 at the Patriots' own 20, with under 5 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. Joe McKnight had just fueled the Jets with momentum after his above mentioned 88 yard, leading to a Jets' TD...and cutting the Pats' lead to 17-14. Brady would hit Rob Gronkowski down the right sideline for a 17 yard play, and a first and 10 to the Patriots' 37. The Pats would continue an 11 play, 77 yard drive, to regain command of the game, and increase their lead to 24-14. Had the Jets held the Pats here, forcing a three and out, who knows how this game might have turned out?
Finally, there was the 3rd and 4 with 3:43 left in the game, at the Jets' 46...when BJGE gained 14 yards on a direct snap...which pretty much iced the game.VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and BJGE all are deserving. But, if I have to choose one, I'll go with "The Law Firm".
Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=311009017
Your comments and opinions are welcome.