FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots improved to 4-1 on the season with a fairly impressive 30-21 victory over the Jets.
There were a few hairy moments, but when you beat a talented divisional rival by two scores, that’s a good day.
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
They corrected their ills from the playoff game on offense, and the defense was improved against a Jets offense that doesn’t have much confidence at this point. The Jets came out with a similar game plan as the playoff game with a load of defensive backs on the field, and the Patriots were more committed and more effective with the run game. On defense, the Patriots did a decent job against the run and got the game to a point where Mark Sanchez was going to have to beat them, and he wasn’t going to do that.
- WR Matthew Slater (ribs) did not return to the game
- S James Ihedigbo (stinger) did not return to the game, but seemed OK after the game.
THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
- More offensive balance: For the second week in a row, the Patriots had nearly the same number of dropbacks as rushes. Tom Brady is always going to be the team’s best offensive weapon, but it’s important to have balance. It keeps the pressure off Brady, opens throwing lanes, and keeps the defense off the field.
- Return of Aaron Hernandez: He wasn’t a huge factor on the stat sheet with five catches for 56 yards, but he did draw a lot of attention from the Jets and allowed Rob Gronkowski to stay more inline and help with the running game. Also, Hernandez wasn’t 100 percent, had to leave at one point in the game so he was struggling a little bit. But he showed a ton of toughness willing his way through the game. Good to see from a young player.
- 255 yards allowed: So the Jets aren’t exactly the Greatest Show on Turf on this point. No one cares. Through the first four games, the Patriots didn’t look like they’d be able to stop anybody through the air. They did in this game and allowed only two drives of more than 3 yards as they got off the field on 73 percent of third downs. That’s progress against anybody. How much? We’ll see against Dallas.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
- Linebackers vs. the run: The Jets were fairly successful running the ball with their running backs at Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for 96 yards on 23 carries (4.2 average). With Jerod Mayo out, the Jets were able to impose their will at times on the ground.
- Offensive line: Brady was sacked four times (three in the first half) and knocked around quite a bit for the second-straight game. Some of it was his own fault trying to make a play, but you have to keep the franchise as clean as possible.
- Kickoff coverage: The easiest way to let a team back into a game is giving up a play on special teams, and the Patriots did that with Joe McKnight’s 88-yard return.
- RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Had a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Such a tough runner, always falls forward and has yet to fumble (jinx alert).
- QB Tom Brady: Threw for 321 yards but more importantly he had more control in this game, getting the team in and out of good plays, than he did in the playoff game. Brady had a plan and he executed it well. Imagine if Aaron Hernandez didn’t drop the touchdown pass before halftime.
- WR Wes Welker: With 124 yards on five catches, he now has 740 yards receiving on the season – the most ever by a player in his team’s first five games. And he caught four punts, including a 25-yard return that got the team good field position to start the fourth quarter.
vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-2), 4:15 p.m., at Gillette Stadium
Result: Cowboys had a bye week. Blew a 24-point lead in a 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 4.