Patriots lose to Jets, 28-14
Mark Sanchez throws for three TDs, outduels Tom Brady
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Jets talk a good game, and it turns out they can play one too, even without Darrelle Revis.
Gang Green and their grandiloquent coach, Rex Ryan, got the last word on the Patriots with a 28-14 win at the New Meadowlands, as the rambunctious Ryan beat the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick for the second time in three times.
"This is a huge game for us," said Ryan. "The thing that I'm most proud of is it took every last man in our locker room to get it done for us today. It's not about one player or this player or that player. It's about the team. That was so evident today. When Darrelle went down today -- he pulled his hamstring on that touchdown pass to Moss we found a way to get it done."
The biggest mismatch in the Patriots-Jets rivalry was supposed to be at quarterback, but much-maligned Jets signal-caller Mark Sanchez outplayed his more accomplished Patriots counterpart, Tom Brady. And the Jets' secondary galvanized without Revis, who left the game after the first half, while the Patriots' secondary showed why it entered this season with caution flags.
"We couldn't do anything in the second half," Brady said. "We couldn't run it, we couldn't throw it. We just sucked."
Sanchez, who threw for just 74 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in the Jets season-opening loss on Monday night, set career-highs in TD passes (three), yards (220) and completions (21 in 30 attempts), while out-dueling Tom Brady (20 for 36, 248 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions).
"We didn't pay much attention to it, any of the criticism. I think this team has some great leaders and a lot of experience to lean on, and I think it really showed tonight," Sanchez said.
Sanchez's third touchdown pass of the game, a 1-yarder to tight end Dustin Keller, put the Jets up 28-14 with 6:09 to go. The Jets defense sealed the deal, when old enemy Jason Taylor sacked Brady at the Jets' 16, forcing a fumble the Jets recovered with a little more than four minutes to go.
It was deja vu for the Patriots, as Ryan and the Jets without Revis shutout the Patriots in the second half on the road for the second straight year. The Patriots, who led 14-10 at the half, had just 80 yards of offense in the second half.
The much-anticipated Border War individual battle between Moss (2 catches, 38 yards) and the redoubtable Revis lived up to its billing while it lasted. Revis, sore left hamstring and all, smothered Moss like an overprotective parent in the early going, but Moss escaped Revis Island in emphatic fashion with a jaw-dropping, one-handed 34-yard touchdown reception with 48 seconds left in the first half to break a 7-7 tie.
One play after a serpentine 46-yard catch-and-run by rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez (six catches for 101 yards), the Patriots went long to Moss, who got behind Revis and snatched the Brady pass out of the air like Spider-Man. It was not a play that a "slouch" would make, and it was Revis' final play of the day.
It was also Moss's last catch of the game.
The Jets had trimmed the Patriots' lead to 14-13 with 4:53 left in the third quarter with Nick Folk's second field goal of the game, a 36-yarder. The score was set up when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, covering Moss because Revis was out, intercepted a deep pass for Moss at the Jets' 3.
That was the first of two interceptions Brady threw on passes intended for Moss after Revis exited the game.
The Jets took their first lead of the game, 21-14, with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, when Sanchez found Jerricho Cotchery, who beat Devin McCourty, for a 2-yard touchdown reception. On the ensuing play, the Jets picked on the other half of the Patriots' inexperienced cornerback tandem, Darius Butler. Braylon Edwards, who beat Butler for the Jets' first score a 10-yard TD in the second quarter skied over him for a 2-point conversion.
It was a rough day for Butler, who in addition to allowing a pair of scores, was whistled for two pass interference penalties on the Jets' final TD drive.
The ending of the game all Jets was in stark contrast to the start of the contest all Patriots.
After the first quarter, the Jets had run just three offensive plays to the Patriots' 23, but the game was still scoreless. It didn't stay that way for long.
Ten plays after absorbing a crushing blow to the head on an incomplete pass from Jets safety Eric Smith that resulted in a drive-extending personal foul penalty, Wes Welker caught a 6-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up 7-0.
The Jets didn't possess the ball for a second time until there was 13:09 left in the second. They tied the game on Edwards's grab. Like the Patriots' drive, New York's scoring foray was aided by a personal foul penalty a late hit by Tully Banta-Cain out of bounds on Cotchery that moved the ball to the New England 28.
The Patriots missed an opportunity to score on the opening drive of the game.
Stephen Gostkowski came on to kick a 32-yard field goal and it appeared the Patriots had a 3-0 lead. However, the Patriots made a rare game management mistake and were penalized for delay of game, forcing a re-kick. Gostkowski, the recent recipient of a four-year, $14-million contract, then missed his third field goal in three games, pushing the ball wide left.
It was a frustrating start for the Patriots and foretold a disappointing ending in New Jersey.
Moss, who last week used his press conference time to express his feelings about his future with the team, stuck to football and praised the Jets.
"They have a good scheme. They're well-coached, a little cocky and arrogant at times, but you really got to commend a team if they come in and talk the talk and walk the walk and go out here and prove it on Sunday. Like I said, man, we just go to get back to the drawing board starting tomorrow and get ready for Buffalo," Moss said.