Big play costly for Jets
FOXBOROUGH - It was the first play after halftime yesterday and Jets shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis had every reason to believe Wes Welker was going to run 40 yards across the field, not 73 yards down it.
Revis was lined up about 10 yards off the line of scrimmage and when the ball was snapped, he watched Welker run about 2 yards, then hook in, and assumed he was going to run a route he had seen Welker run a million times.
“We know he runs those speedos all the time,’’ Revis said. “He starts on one side of the field and then goes all the way across to the other. He kind of was doing that, slowed down, and then took off straight up the middle of the field.’’
Before Revis could blink, Welker was racing upfield, between him and safety Eric Smith. Tom Brady found Welker with the perfect deep ball. If Revis hadn’t chased him down at the 7-yard line and grabbed him by the ankles, Welker would have had his sixth touchdown of the season.
Still, the play set up a 2-yard pass from Brady to Deion Branch that made it 17-7, and after the Jets felt like they had contained Welker, he still caught five balls for 124 yards in New England’s 30-21 win.
Before that play, Welker had three catches for 47 yards, modest numbers compared with the gaudy ones he had put up over the first four games. He had five touchdowns and 616 receiving yards coming in, and the Jets wanted to make sure that if anyone beat them, it wasn’t Welker.
For the just the second time this season, Welker didn’t find the end zone, but his fingerprints were everywhere in the win. It was the fourth time this season he’s put up 100 receiving yards and the 19th time he’s done it in his career.
On top of that long ball, Welker caught a 32-yarder on the Patriots’ first scoring drive, helping to set up one of BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s two touchdowns.
“Right now, with as hot as Welker is, you have to do what you can to take care of him,’’ said Jets safety Jim Leonhard. “He had two big plays and we made mistakes on both of them. Outside of that, I thought we did a decent job, but you look at his numbers at the end of the day and he has a huge day. So, it’s frustrating.’’
From Kyle Wilson and Donald Strickland, the Jets had a handful of defensive backs shadow Welker.
The Jets were in zone coverage when Welker broke free for the 73-yarder. In Jets coach Rex Ryan’s view, it looked as if Welker knew he had an opening from the time the Jets lined up.
“It kind of looked like one of those, ‘I got ’em, you take ’em’s,’ ’’ Ryan said. “Obviously in that defense, we expect a run or take a shot. But we never had anybody deep.’’
Leonhard said the secondary got caught peeking into the backfield, and while they were looking the other way Welker was speeding by.
“It’s unfortunate,’’ Leonhard said. “We did a decent job on him up to that point and he ended up getting behind us.’’
All week, the thought was that as hot as Welker was, Revis could be the cooler. Of the few times that Revis lined up across from Welker, he remembered one play when he felt like he gave Welker no wiggle room, only to have Brady zip-line a ball to a spot where only Welker could haul it in.
“I remember the one out that Welker did on me,’’ said Revis. “I had him covered like a blanket and it’s like he shot-putted it up and it fell straight into his hands.’’
The Jets defense (ranked eighth in the league coming in) gave up 446 yards, 294 through the air. Welker accounted for a good portion of the passing yards, and the Jets left Gillette Stadium feeling like they were struck by a silent assassin.
“It didn’t look like he had a 260-yard game today, as he usually does,’’ Revis said. “One thing we didn’t want was we didn’t want Wes to beat us this week, but he did come up with some big plays.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.