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Patriots Notebook

Few words follow punt fake fail

Botched play put Jets in attack zone

By Shalise Manza Youngand Monique Walker
Globe Staff / January 17, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH — It seemed like a good time to try a fake punt. The Patriots were down, 7-3, late in the first half, were having difficulty moving the ball, and were facing fourth and 3 in their own territory.

So they went for it. And it went nowhere.

Rather than snap the ball to punter Zoltan Mesko, Matt Katula instead sent the ball to Patrick Chung.

Chung, who appeared to start running before he had the ball, dropped it, picked it up, and didn’t get far, losing 2 yards. New York took over at the Patriots’ 37 and needed just four plays to find the end zone for a 14-3 lead.

After the game, Bill Belichick would not discuss the attempt.

“We just made a bad mistake on the play. Just a bad mistake,’’ Belichick said.

Was the mistake in execution, or in calling the play, he was asked.

“I’m not even going into it,’’ Belichick said.

A few minutes later, Belichick was asked if he signed off on the fake punt try.

“I’ve said all I’m going to say about that,’’ was the reply.

Chung declined to talk about the play or the game in the locker room.

However, NESN.com quoted Mesko as saying that it was Chung’s call to go for the fake.

Jets coach Rex Ryan took credit for his players playing the fake well, rather than recognizing that it was a botched attempt by the Patriots.

“We played it great. You’ve got to give a ton of credit — [special teamer] Eric Smith played a whale of a game for us. Just continues to make great plays,’’ Ryan said.

Branch irked at Jets Some of the Jets’ celebrations after the game didn’t sit well with the Patriots. Jets receiver Braylon Edwards did a series of back flips as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Deion Branch was not asked specifically about Edwards, but he said there were some things that could be considered “classless.’’

“You all missed it,’’ Branch said. “There was a lot of classless play on the football field after the game, but you know you have to expect that from some of the guys over there. You could see some class with some of the veteran guys. That’s the only thing that was embarrassing. Right now, it’s just a lot of frustration from the game.’’

No matter how the Jets celebrated, Branch said he wasn’t going to respond.

“I’m a champion and I’m going to always congratulate the guys upon victory,’’ he said. “They beat us. They beat us when it mattered, so the ones with class I shook their hands. The other ones I didn’t. They don’t deserve my nor my teammates’ congratulations for them to act like that. You can tell they’re not used to being in this position. I don’t have any excuses, though. They beat us.’’

Turn out the Light? Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light is one of the many players who will be a free agent after this season. After 10 seasons with the Patriots, Light was asked if he had given any consideration to his contract situation.

“I have had a great 10 years here, this has been a great organization, obviously a great place to come play as a rookie,’’ Light said. “Ten really solid years and I hope like hell to be here and continue to do what I have done, but we will have to wait and see if that works itself out.’’

Crumpler’s key play Veteran tight end Alge Crumpler came up with a hustle play in the first quarter that prevented a Jets touchdown. Jets linebacker David Harris intercepted a Tom Brady pass and rumbled toward the end zone. But Crumpler took an angle across the field that allowed him to tackle Harris at the Patriots’ 12-yard line.

The tackle proved to be an even bigger play after the defense forced the Jets to attempt a field goal that Nick Folk missed from 30 yards.

Crumpler also caught three passes for 39 yards and one touchdown.

“It is tough,’’ Crumpler said. “Your emotions are going to be extreme — you’re either going to be really happy or really sad. I hate that we all have to feel this way.’’

Decision time Running back Fred Taylor may have played his last NFL game, but wasn’t ready to make that declaration yesterday. Taylor was inactive as a healthy scratch.

“I think right now at this point, I’ve got a million things kind of floating through my brain,’’ Taylor said. “It’s kind of hard to comprehend, none of it’s really clear. But I’ve just got to probably take some time to be realistic. I kind of know what my body’s telling me and what my family has been telling me. But I also know that this is what I’ve been programmed to do the majority of my life. So I’ll probably just take some time, get to training this offseason. . . . I don’t want to be too fast on the trigger.’’

Ninkovich, Moore hurt Linebacker Rob Ninkovich left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return. With the Jets facing third-and-6 from the Patriots’ 38, Ninkovich broke through the line to slam Sanchez as he released the ball. Ninkovich injured his knee on the play and had to be helped off the field. He eventually headed to the locker room with the Patriots training staff . . . Defensive lineman Eric Moore left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.

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