Make no mistake about it...the Patriots saved their season with their 37-16 win over the Jets, in The Meadowlands. Had the Patriots lost tonight, the Jets would have held a one game lead in the AFC East over them, and an edge in any tie-breakers. But, with their win, the tables have turned, and the Jets are a game down, and down in any tie-breakers. Don't know whether this win was more a result of the Jets playing poorly than the Pats playing well. Nonetheless, the Pats now are in command of the AFC East. Here are my grades: I. OFFENSE: After a sluggish first half, the Patriots' offense began to look like the Patriots' offense of old. The Jets' "D" was up-tempo, no huddled to death in the second half. It was great to see Patriots' receivers getting separation again; 1.) QB: Sometimes, it better to be lucky than good. In the first half, Tom Brady again suffered from accuracy troubles, and poor decision making. He was extremely fortunate that the Jets dropped three (3) of his errant passes. The first, which was thrown right into the hands of Jets CB Kyle Wilson, could have changed the course of the game. It occurred on a sideline pass thrown in the vicinity of Deion Branch, on the Pats' initial drive. Wilson might have been running a long way if he had caught that ball...and it would have negated a subsequent Patriots' FG. The second came about when Tom tried to force the ball into a double covered Rob Gronkowski, deep in Jets territory. It could have, and should have been picked. The Jets' failure to take advantage of this Brady mistake cost them another FG. The third came on a bomb thrown to a double-covered Deion Branch, in the second quarter. Tom also was correctly penalized for intentional grounding in the endzone. This resulted in a safety. It also led to the Jets getting great field position on the subsequent kickoff, from the Patriots' 20 yard line. The Jets would negotiate the "short field" for a TD. So, in essence, giving up that safety resulted in a 9 points for the opposition. But, thereafter, Tom transformed back into "The Terrific One", that we know and love. Brady marched the Pats 80 yards in the final 1:20 of the first half, as the Pats scored the go-ahead TD. It put them up, 13-9 at the half. From there, they never looked back. Brady finished with 26 completions in 39 attempts for 329 yards, and three (3) TDs. He took advantage of a muffed punt and two Rob Ninkovich picks, in a flawless second half performance...in which he completed 14 of 17 passes for 135 yards, and a pair of TDs: GRADE: B; 2.) RBs: In what has become a recurrent theme over their last three games, the Pats are getting little from their RBs. BJGE hasn't looked the same since the first Jets' game, in which he suffered a toe injury. Kevin Faulk is a relic, and Stevan Ridley is playing like an over-matched rookie. But, in fairness to them, they're not getting much help from their OL. Danny Woodhead was the best of the bunch, finishing with 7 carries for 38 yards...as the Pats' were held to a mere 60 yards rushing. Woodhead was the last line of defense for Tom Brady on that safety play, and got bowled over by the Jets' Jamaal Westerman: GRADE: D+; 3.) OL: Once again failed to produce much running room for the RBs. An ole' "block" by Sebastien Vollmer on Jamaal Westerman, led to the Jets' safety. But, other than that, and some occasional pressures over LT Matt Light, the Big Uglies did a credible job of keeping the wolves off Tom Brady: GRADE: B-; 4.) TEs: Rob Gronkowski was immense. Gronk finished with eight (8) receptions for 113 yards, and two (2) TDs. The Jets had no answers for him all evening. He has become Tom Brady's most lethal weapon. Aaron Hernandez has never really been the same player since injuring his knee early in the season. But he still contributed, with four (4) receptions for 41 yards: GRADE: A; 5.) WRs: There was an Ocho sighting, at last! His 53 yard reception and run after catching a Brady heave led to a FG, and a 6-0 Patriots lead, early on. Maybe there's hope. Wes Welker was pretty much stranded on Revis Island, finishing with six (6) catches for just 46 yards. He also had a drop on a swing pass in the second quarter, which killed a drive. Deion Branch re-appeared this week, contributing five (5) catches for 58 yards, and a TD. GRADE: B; II. DEFENSE: This might have been the much maligned "D"'s finest hour. Despite key injuries in the secondary and at LB, this cut and pasted unit turned in an outstanding performance. 1.) DL: DE Andre Carter played like Dwight Freeney in his prime, finishing with four and a half (4.5) sacks, and 8 QB hits. It was easily the most dominating performance by a Patriots' DE/OLB in the past 4 years. Look for him to start commanding double-teams. Mark Sanchez was clearly rattled by the consistent pressure he received throughout the evening. The Jets had some success running the ball, as Shonn Greene averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and Tomlinson 5.4 yards per run. But, because the Jets were playing from behind throughout most of this game, their "ground and pound" was never much of a factor: GRADE: A-; 2.) LB: Obviously, OLB Rob Ninkovich ate his Wheaties this morning. His two interceptions, including a 4th quarter pick-6, broke this game open for the Pats. Solid job in coverage, as TE Dustin Keller and Jets' RBs were not a factor in the passing game. The trio of Jerod Mayo, Tracy White, and Ninkovich combined for 15 tackles (5 each), 14 of which were solos...in a very solid effort: GRADE: A-; 3.) SECONDARY: Though Mark Sanchez passed for 306 yards, 84 of those yards came during garbage time. Sanchez barely was able to complete 50% of his passes in this game. The Pats' seemed to employ more man coverage this week, and, by and large, it was effective. Held tough redzone WR Plaxico Burress to just one TD, with some solid redzone coverage. Saftey James Ihedigbo led the team in tackles with seven (7), all solos: GRADE: B+; III. SPECIAL TEAMS: After a horrible game last week, PK Stephen Gostkowski bounced back with his best game of the season. His first of three FGs, a 50 yarder on the Pats' initial scoring drive, was huge. It set a positive tone for the game...while a miss would have given the Jets outstanding field position. This from the NY Times on the 50 yarder: "...The Patriots’ first possession culminated in a 50-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, whose kick wobbled and swayed as it neared the goal post. It was the Patriots’ good fortune that the ball floated over the crossbar, safe by about a foot." Punter Zoltan "The Magnificent" Mesko averaged almost 48 yards per punt, and got good hang time. Good job of coverage in containing the Jets' Joe McKnight...and in recovering a McKnight muff on a punt. Julian Edelman contributed a 16 yard punt return: GRADE: A; IV. COACHING: BB clearly got the better of Sexy Rexy this time. The Pats took an much more aggressive approach in pass coverage, and in rushing the passer. Gone was that loose zone, as BB employed more man coverage. Inroads appear to have been made in solving the "Brady blueprint", which had hamstrung the Pats' offensive output over the past three weeks. Tom Brady appeared to regain his confidence and swagger, as the game wore on. A combination of a few breaks, receivers getting open, and solid pass protection will tend to do that for a QB. The Patriots defense played with anger, and purpose. There were no 4th quarter break-downs this week: GRADE: A; V. PLAY OF THE GAME: The first of two Rob Ninkovick interceptions with 7:36 to go in the third quarter killed a Jets' drive, and gave the Pats the ball in great field position at their own 43. This was a momentum changer. At the time, the Pats were nursing just a 16-9 lead. Tom Brady subsequently took advantage of this break, and led the offense to a 57 yards to a TD, in 8 plays. This gave the Pats' a commanding 23-9 lead; VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME: LB Rob Ninkovich, with his two picks...the one discussed above, and his 4th quarter pick-6, with 7:45 left. It iced the game, putting the Pats up, 37-16. Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=311113020
Great win for the Patriots!! As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.
Posted by TexasPat3
You give the OL a B- and the RBs a D+?! You do say: in all fairness they are not getting much help from the o line... Ridley did not miss a read or dance around or not try. Woodhead was simply outmatched on the block. He stepped up to make it but just doesn't have the heft to make that block on a player that much bigger. Faulk got what was given him. The thing slowing down the running game was a combination of D sets, some good D plays and players and some blown blocks. I ike Connolly but he blew a couple as did some others. I would give RBs C for doing what they were given and making some good blocks at times and C+ for O line broken down as A- for pass blocking and D for run blocking.