It's been over 24 hours since the Jets beat the Patriots, 30-27 in overtime, and the topic of discussion remains one penalty that gave the winning team new life in the game's final moments.
It's time to come to terms with what many Patriots players, and their head coach, have already admitted: the penalty hurt, but the Jets played a good game, and deserve credit for the win.
Credit has been hard to come by for the Jets against the Patriots this year; the focus was squarely on the Patriots' offensive miscues in the first meeting, a 13-10 Patriots win.
"It has nothing to do with us," head coach Rex Rex said, facetiously, of the media coverage following the first game. "I understand we were just out there. Certainly that was well reported and all that. So, we’ll get to see. We’ll see if there (are) some of those issues that exist this week."
In fact, the Jets became the only team to hold Brady below 50 percent completions twice in a season (including teams that faced him in the playoffs).
Give the Jets' defensive line credit for generating four sacks in a momentum-swinging stretch of 11 minutes and 26 seconds from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the third quarter. With three first-round picks to their name, that group was built for just such an occasion, and they rose to it on Sunday.
Defensive end Quinton Coples got around left tackle Nate Solder with a flip of his hips and a swat of the hands and arms.
A few minutes later, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson got underneath and inside Solder's pads, and ripped his arms to the side.
Those weren't simply gifts from a Patriots team in a giving mood; the Jets were backed into a corner, down by 11 points at halftime, and those were plays the Jets made that helped them climb back into the game.
The Jets put the pressure square on that group with a conservative defensive game plan that had the Jets rushing more than four defenders on just 12 of 50 pass plays according to stats website Pro Football Focus. On the season, the Jets blitzed Brady on just 21 of 90 pass plays (23.3 percent), far below the Jets average of 35.8. For reference, the league average is 31.7 percent.
That's a good game plan on defense, but the Jets deserve credit for executing and committing to an offensive game plan that focused on running the ball at a Patriots defense without defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. The Jets may have even drawn up a blueprint for attacking the Patriots defense for the rest of the year.
The Jets coaching staff could even take credit for that overtime penalty.
I'm told Jets coaches did alert officials to several things to watch for w/Pats' special teams, inc potential FG push, before Sunday's game.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 21, 2013
That's a smart move by the Jets -- and obviously, the timing of the penalty didn't hurt.
Brady is not playing up to his usual standard; the Patriots have been snakebitten by injury; the offense still isn't quite in sync.
Those are all issues the Patriots will have to address now and going forward, but even if they get players back from injury, and get improved play from Brady and the skill position players on offense, that doesn't erase this loss -- a loss which was earned in the same manner the Jets earned the victory.
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