Defense Shines Sans Revis, Sanchez Steals the Show
Florham Park, N.J.- What a difference six days make.
Just six days ago all the Jets critics, and many of their own fans, turned into “Chicken Little,” running around screaming that the sky was falling on the Jets season after just one game.
The Jets picked up right where they left off last Monday in the first quarter against the Patriots, running a total of three offensive plays in the first-quarter, but began to get on track early in the second and took over the game as the second-half belonged to the Jets and even more to Mark Sanchez.
If someone had told you one quarterback in this game would set career lows while the other set career highs, how much of everything you owned would you have bet on Brady setting career highs?
Again, knowing one of these quarterbacks is Brady and the other is Sanchez, which of these stats would you expect to go which quarterback?
Quarterback A) 21-30 for 220 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers and a QB rating of 124.3
Quarterback B) 20-36 for 248 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble, with a QB rating of 72.5
If you saw the game you know the answer, but you still have to be impressed by looking at those numbers again. Obviously quarterback A) was Mark Sanchez, but those numbers look amazingly similar to Brady’s usual numbers. As for Brady, his day started off strong, but he ended the game looking like a lost pedestrian aimlessly wondering through the streets of New York City.
Early in the game the Pats executed their game plan by keeping the Jets defense off-balance and guessing. Often surprising the Jets with early runs, then spreading the ball around using Welker and their young extremely dangerous tight ends. The Jets sent a constant stream of pressure on Brady, hitting him repeatedly but not before he would step up and deliver a laser to one of his many weapons
After a scoreless first-quarter the Patriots struck first. It looked like the Patriots were going to be forced to punt after Brady overthrew Welker, but Eric Smith got flagged for an illegal blow to the head as he sent Welker flying to the ground. Giving the Patriots 15 yards and a first-down and one thing you can’t do against Brady, is give him extra plays. Brady took advantage as they marched right down towards the goal-line and Brady hit Welker on a short out route for a six-yard touchdown pass, to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
Now it was the Jets turn to eat up the clock like it was an after team-meeting snack, as they dominated time of possession and responded with an immediate touchdown of their own.
Braylon Edwards had a great game, including a crucial touchdown catch and a two-point conversion to put the Jets up 21-14, but his most important catch might of been his first of the day.
After the Jets went three-and-out on the first drive and were forced into a 3rd-and-six on on their first set of downs again, the entire Jet fan base let out a giglantic sigh of relief, as Sanchez hit Edwards, that they not only got a first-down, but allowed Sanchez the opportunity to pass the ball further than a check-down. It may have been just a 13 yard grab, but it was a sign of things to come.
Sanchez confidence shot through the roof and it only steamrolled more as the game went on, if Sanchez felt like he had something to prove this week, mission accomplished.
Even a sack for a 10 yard loss on the next play didn’t slow down Sanchez’s aggressiveness, as he responded with a strike to Keller for 13 yards and Keller’s first big play of the game, with many more to come. Next Sanchez hit Edwards on an out route for an 11-yard pick-up and a new set of downs taking the ball onto the Patriots side of the field. Then after a unnessecary roughness penalty against the Patriots left the Jets with great field position, everyone could see just how comfortable Sanchez was and he stepped-up and made a big play that let everyone in the stadium he came to win.
On second-and-seven from the New England 26-yard-line, Sanchez dropped back, felt some pressure and scrambled around looking at first like he had no clue what to do and had to have all Jet fans worried he might take a huge sack and fumble, but instead he showed he was in control as he escaped a sack, made a juke move then flipped a shuttle-pass to L.T. for a first-down. Then on third-and-three from the 10, Sanchez dropped back and tossed a beautiful jump ball for Edwards, as Edwards just out leaped Darius Butler (who the Jets continuously picked on all game) in the corner of the end zone, tying the game 7-7.
The Jets then forced the Patriots to a three-and-out and got the ball back with 5:21 to go in the half. After picking up a couple of quick first-downs by running the ball, with the ball nearing midfield and the 2:00 minute warning approaching, the Jets decided to play it safe and try and run out the clock and score at the same time. The decision blew up in their faces as the drive quickly stalled and the Jets were forced to punt.
Drew Coleman and Marquis Cole just missed pinning the punt at the goal-line giving the Patriots the ball at the 20, instead of forcing them to probably run out the clock and settle for a 7-7 half-time score.
Once again Brady took advantage of this mistake, he got the ball back with 1:41 left in the half, and it didn’t even take him a full minute to go the full 80 yards for a touchdown.
Brady hit the rookie tight-end Aaron Hernandez for a 46 yard pass and as the Patriots rushed to get a play off in hurry-up mode they caught both safeties,Leonhard and Smith, as well as Revis, off-guard as Moss flew past Revis before he was even set for a 34 yard ridiculous one-handed touchdown catch. To make matters worse the play simultiously caused Revis to tweak his hamstring after reaching out for a last ditch effort to catch-up to Moss.
This gave the Pats a 14-7 lead with 53 seconds left in the half, but Sanchez was determined to leave the half on a good note as they rallied strong and responded with a drive of their own for 49 yards to set-up a 49 yard field goal from Folk to cut the lead to 14-10 at the half and swing the momentum in the Jets favor. The force of the momentum only grew stronger throughout the second-half, even with Revis sidelined for the rest of the game.
The Patriots ended the first-half with 14 points, 211 total yards and no turnovers and after watching Revis leave the game and Moss breaking loose for that late touchdown no one was prepared for what happened in the second-half. It was Sanchez who looked like the pro-bowler and Brady who looked absolutely flustered. A tale of two halves indeed, the Patriots finished the second-half with, zero points, 80 total yards and 3 turnovers.
After not throwing a interception in his previous 60 attempts, Brady threw two picks in four consecutive passes. His two picks tied his career high and at one point in the middle of the fourth, Brady missed on six straight passes, which is the most consecutive passes he has missed ever in his career.
In the second half without Revis the Jets backed off dropping more players in coverage and sent less pressure, while still generating good enough pressure with mostly three or four guys, this clearly threw Brady off his game as his performance nosedived
Kyle Wilson played a very solid game, just barely missing on a couple of big plays including what would have been a huge sack, but Brady pulled a three-time Super Bowl Champ move and barely avoided it coming to an abrupt halt and just ducking under Wilson’s grasp. Revis may have went out, but all that did was allow for Cromartie to step up and do what the Jets brought him here to do, make plays, wreak havoc and cause turnovers.
Cromartie had a crucial pick, early in the third, on what ended up being a perfect punt for the Pats, making a great play out leaping the normally out leap-able Randy Moss at the goal line. It was great to get the pick, but it gave the offense a lot of yards to earn, and earn them they did. A couple of big passes to Keller and big runs from L.T. allowed the Jets to march down the field and tack on another three points, to cut the Patriots lead to 14-13.
After a three-and-out by the Patriots, the Jets broke off two more big plays, as Sanchez once again hit Keller deep down the middle for 21 yards and L.T., looking every bit as good as five years ago, broke off a 31 yard run getting pushed out of bounds at the New England four-yard-line. Which set up a genius play call by Brian Schottenheimer as he lined up three receivers on one side and ran them across their defenders and allowed Sanchez to wait to see who broke free, and it was Cotchery that Sanchez found in the back of the end zone to give the Jets their first lead. The play was followed by a successful two-point conversion on another jump-ball to Edwards, which gave the Jets a 21-14 lead.
A lot of the credit has to go to the often maligned Schottenheimer, Schotty has admitted himself he sometimes over thinks things, saying “I overplayed the chains last week,” but he called an absolutely superb game that had the Pats defense in a constant state of confusion.
On the first play of the fourth quarter the Jets began to put their foot on the Patriots neck and finish them. Pool had an amazing toe-tipping interception, after Cromartie broke the pass up twice, first with his hands then with his helmet and the ball dropped perfectly into Pool’s hands as he couldn’t have cut it any closer barely balancing his feet right next to the white chalk on the sidelines.
With Tom Brady on the opposing side, a 21-14 lead is never safe, no matter how bad he might be struggling, and the Jets acted accordingly. With a little over 11 minutes left the Jets took the ball from their own 37 yard line and stormed down the field to close the game out in style.
Good things happen when your quarterback is allowed to stretch the field, including gifts from the opposing defenses. Up 21-14, driving to extend their lead there were two huge pass interference penalties that went in the Jets favor. The plays don’t fill-up Sanchez’s stat sheet, but picked up huge chunks of yards in a critical junction of the game and the plays only happened because of the confidence Sanchez had in himself to make a play.
Last week it was Flacco making those plays getting easy yards off of penalties, yesterday it was Sanchez who used the often frustrating trick to his advantage.
Then on third-and-goal from the one, the Jets kept attacking, as Sanchez rolled out dropped back and made a gutsy and perfect pass to Keller to give the Jets a 28-14 lead.
With about four minutes left in the game Jason Taylor put the finishing stamp on the day for himself and the Jets, as the Jets new number 99 rushed around the corner and crushed Brady causing a fumble and the Jets old number 99 (Bryan Thomas) picked up the loose ball and rumbled for 16 yards sealing the Jets victory.
The Jets got great play from everyone on the field, Edwards finished with five catches for 45 yards a touchdown and two-point conversion. L.T. finished with 11 carries for 76 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and four catches for 26 yards. Keller abused the Patriots secondary all day with seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown and all the way around the defense played a tremendous game, forcing Brady to look like a shell of himself.
Of course all of that will be in the background as yesterday belonged to Sanchez. Sanchez was getting buried by the media and many fans for his performance last week, this week he stepped up and showed just what he is capable of.
If Sanchez can continue to play anywhere near this level of play, it’s going to be awfully tough to beat them. Especially with the way the defense showed they will not miss a beat, no matter how many stars they lose to injury.
Injury News and Notes
Revis left the game after tweaking that hamstring, he will have an MRI today and more information will be available later. At the very least expect him to sit out practice all week, as rest is the only cure for a pulled hamstring. With that in mind the Jets might want to think about resting Revis next week, especially considering how Cromartie handled Moss after Revis left. They travel to play the Dolphins and obviously it would be nice to have a healthy Revis to cover Marshall, but the Dolphins are still a running team and sitting out practice all week and then just jumping right into the fire of shadowing a top flight receiver is most likely what caused the hamstring to act up yesterday. The Jets shouldn’t risk making it worse.
Jason Taylor left the game with an arm injury. He returned and made the game clinching sack, but then left again. He said he should be fine to return to Miami and play on Sunday night, but more information on this will be available later.
Nick Mangold briefly left the game for a drive because of a shoulder injury, (Rob Turner filled in admirably as the Jets scored on the drive) but returned for the next drive.
Brad Smith was also forced to leave the game because he took a elbow to the jaw, again more information on the severity of the injury should be available later today.