pats @ jets : Thu. Nov 22 - 8:20 pm ~ ~ " jets make Wk 12 vs pats meaningful " ~ ~ ~
Jets make Week 12 vs. Patriots meaningful
All week, the New York Jets have been a train wreck.
It started last Sunday with an embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Later in the week, anonymous players ripped backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who seemed like an odd target for the team's struggles.Then, Jets owner Woody Johnson laid down the gauntlet by saying what the Jets are doing is unacceptable."I didn’t sign up for a 3-6 season," the Jets boss said bluntly.This all had the makings of another Jets implosion. Instead, New York set aside its various distractions and picked up a 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was an efficient 15-of-20 passing for 178 yards and a touchdown in the win. New York’s defense forced three turnovers.
New York improved to 4-6 and ended a three-game losing streak that spanned 35 days thanks to a bye. More importantly, the Jets jumped from fourth place to second place in the AFC East via tiebreakers and kept their slim postseason hopes alive.The Jets versus the New England Patriots is one of the NFL's great rivalries -- and it is much better when something is at stake for both teams.Sunday's win by the Jets makes Thanksgiving's nationally televised home game against the rival Patriots more meaningful. For New England, it's a chance to put the final nail in the coffin on New York's season. That is something the Rams failed to do. For the hosting Jets, it’s a chance to stay alive in the wild-card chase and perhaps close the gap with the Patriots in the AFC East.A loss to the Rams this weekend would not have made that possible. The Jets would've been 3-7, floundering and with nothing to play for. New York's win at least gives the Jets some much-needed confidence and motivation. The Jets played the Patriots extremely tough at Gillette Stadium during a 29-26 loss in Week 7.
After Sunday's game, Johnson had nicer words for his team."Nice team win in St. Louis today," the Jets' owner tweeted.
Here are some other AFC East notes from Week 11 :
•The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are also 4-6. Therefore, no team in the division is mathematically eliminated. But the Bills have the easiest schedule of the three teams. Only two of Buffalo’s final six games are against teams currently with winning records. The Bills have a shot to win many of these games if they get hot at the right time. They have a huge game next week against the Colts, who currently hold a wild-card spot in the AFC.
•The Dolphins' playoff hopes look all but over after their Thursday night loss to the Bills. They play three consecutive postseason contenders. Miami will host the Seahawks (6-4) next week, followed by the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. I think, at best, Miami finishes 1-2 in this span and falls out of contention. But there is also a good chance the Dolphins drop all three games.
•It was interesting to see former Miami quarterback Chad Henne light up the Houston Texans on Sunday for four touchdowns. Henne replaced starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards in an 43-37 overtime loss. This game has dual meaning for the AFC East. First, the Dolphins gave up on Henne after four inconsistent years. They drafted rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and moved on. Second, Houston is one of the biggest threats to New England in the AFC. But the Texans showed a lot of holes in a pass defense that New England and quarterback Tom Brady could exploit. The Patriots will host the Texans on Dec. 10 on "Monday Night Football." There is also a good chance both teams will meet in the playoffs on the road to the Super Bowl.
By winning this game the Jets will prove that they can actually beat a playoff team if they make it to the postseason. This is their last chance to do so the rest of the way.
The fact is the Jets backs are to the wall here, they just can't lose this game and they know it. The Pats can afford to lose this one while the Jets have to play it like it's the Superbowl. They will be gunning for Tom Brady and the DB's will handing out the hits like Cromartie did against the Rams. Amendola came hobbling off the field from those hits yesterday and so will Welker and crew on Thursday.
The Jets have no choice, it's do or die, right here right now, there's only one way back and it goes through the Patriots on thursday.
The AFC East division was an impressive 3-1 this past week.
Here are seven notes an observations in the division :
.•The New England Patriots will be without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski for several weeks due to a broken forearm, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Fortunately for New England, tight end is a position of depth. The Patriots should be fine at the position, especially when the dynamic Aaron Hernandez returns from an ankle injury. Where New England will miss "Gronk" most is in the red zone. Gronkowski had seven touchdowns in his past four games.
•Here is why the Patriots remain Super Bowl contenders :
They have a league-best plus-27 turnover margin. The Patriots take care of the ball and force plenty of turnovers. Winning the turnover battle is the easiest way to consistently win. The Patriots (7-3) forced four turnovers and didn't commit any Sunday in a 59-24 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts.
•I saw a mixed bag in the debut of new Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib. He had a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown but also allowed two touchdown passes. You can see the size and athleticism from Talib, who will only get better in New England's system. But the Patriots put a lot on his plate coming off suspension and just one week of practice. He was clearly winded at times and has some things to work on.
•Don’t sleep on the New York Jets (4-6) this week. They will be big underdogs on Thanksgiving night against the Patriots. But anyone who knows the Jets-Patriots rivalry is aware that you must ignore the records when they play. The Jets nearly upset New England at Gillette Stadium earlier this year. New York couldn't finish and lost 29-26 in overtime. The Jets usually have a good gameplan against New England and will play at home on a short week. Gronkowski's injury also makes it tougher on the Patriots. These factors could help even the playing field.
•Two Buffalo Bills are making themselves a lot of money. Pending free agents Jairus Byrd and Leodis McKelvin came up big in Buffalo’s 19-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins Thursday night. Byrd had an impressive interception in the fourth quarter and McKelvin had another punt return for a touchdown. Both are pending free agents and their price tags continue to rise. Byrd is a must-sign for Buffalo. McKelvin was a draft bust as a cornerback but is one of the top returners in the NFL. The Bills have an interesting decision to make with their former draft picks.
•Buffalo improved to 2-0 when tailback C.J. Spiller gets 15 carries or more. It’s not rocket science that Spiller should get the football more. The issue is can the Bills bench starter and team leader Fred Jackson when he returns from a concussion? I think it’s a no-brainer, but the Bills’ coaching staff has been struggling with this dilemma all season. Spiller is a unique talent who makes things happen. He should get at least 20 carries a game -- either in the starting lineup or off the bench.
•I’m surprised how much Miami’s run game has struggled. The play of Miami’s offensive line has tailed off dramatically since the first half of the season. The Dolphins aren’t getting much push up front and Miami’s running backs can't get to the second level. Buffalo showed little respect for Miami’s rush. The Bills barely blitzed and brought four or fewer rushers in 93.5 percent of dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That made it tough for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to have any success throwing.
Here's the reason the Jets stack up well against the Pats: The Jets are now 4th against the pass in completion percentage, allowing only 56% average completions (about the same as the Packers and Steelers). They are also 4th in passing yards allowed per game, allowing only 200 yards per game on average (about the same as the Seahawks and 49'ers).
The Pats are 12th in rushing average (4.3 yards per rush), about the same as the St. Louis Rams. They will have to try and run the ball more here because the Jets are geared to stop the pass. Also the Jets will be dialing up the passrush to try and get to Brady, so it stands to reason they will try to run more.
Still I think it just comes down to a matter or sheer desperation... The Jets are just far more desperate to win this game than the Pats are. They will have 10 days to rest after this game so they will be giving it a 200% effort here. They simply cannot lose! We've all played desperate teams in the past, and no matter what their record is it sucks to play them because they're treating every play like it's their last. The Pats simply don't need this one as much as the Jets do, plus the Jets are at home and have the confidence of nearly beating them only a few weeks ago. Jets will improve to 5-6 and have ten days to rest and get ready for the Cardinals where they will improve to 6-6 and finally be a serious playoff contender.
New England ties franchise's single-game socring record in rout of Colts
Alfonzo Dennard watched himself on the video board as he raced 87 yards with an interception for a touchdown. He wanted to see if the star rookie who threw the pass might catch him.The way the New England Patriots were playing — with their usual strong offense, big plays on defense and a touchdown on a punt return — there was no way Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts could overtake them.The Patriots, the NFL’s highest-scoring team, equaled their single-game scoring record for points with a 59-24 win on Sunday.
“The coaches want us to play aggressive,” said Dennard, whose touchdown made it 45-17. “So that’s what I was doing out there.”The first matchup between three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and star rookie Luck was no match. Brady threw three touchdown passes. Luck threw three interceptions.“They’re good enough,” Luck said. “They don’t need those gifts, but to their credit, they created those and we didn’t.”They may need them more after tight end Rob Gronkowski left the field with what the Patriots said was an arm injury with about four minutes left in the game. Comcast SportsNet New England reported X-rays showed Gronkowski had a broken arm. Neither the team nor Comcast SportsNet specified which arm was hurt.
Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes Sunday, giving him seven touchdown receptions in his last four games and 10 for the season. He finished the game with seven catches for 137 yards, The Patriots’ other valuable tight end Aaron Hernandez missed his third straight game and sixth overall after spraining his right ankle.The Patriots’ much-maligned pass defense finally made major contributions as newcomer Aqib Talib returned another interception for a touchdown, covering 59 yards. And Rob Ninkovich’s fifth forced fumble of the season — knocking the ball out of Luck’s hand — set up Gronkowski’s second scoring grab on the next play.“We knew we couldn’t come here and turn the football over and have a chance to win,” Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. “We’ve got a lot of rookies out there so every week is a learning experience. It was a bad learning experience.”
The Patriots (7-3) won their fourth straight game and extended their lead in the AFC East to three games over the other three teams. The Colts (6-4) had their four-game winning streak stopped by the NFL’s best offense and one of its worst defenses.Now New England must hurry to prepare for its Thanksgiving night meeting with the Jets (4-6). New York ended a three-game slide with a 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams.“I don’t think we’re anywhere (near) where we need to be at this point,” Brady said.For the Patriots, Sunday’s win was their most complete in a season in which they’ve averaged 35.8 points per game and lost their three games by a combined margin of four points.
The 59 points equals the team mark set in a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 18, 2009.
The Patriots also scored on a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman three plays before Talib gave the Patriots the lead for good, 21-14.“I don’t think guys panicked” after that one-two punch, Luck said. “Playing hard is not enough, as evidenced tonight.”Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and no interceptions. Luck was 27 for 50 for two touchdowns and 334 yards and set an NFL record as the first rookie with five 300-yard games.The Colts were competitive for one half. The Patriots led 24-17 heading into the third quarter.Then the Patriots scored on passes of 2 yards to Edelman and 24 yards to Gronkowski and Dennard’s interception return.Luck followed with a 43-yard scoring pass to T.Y. Hilton, the second of the game to the fellow rookie, But the Patriots responded with touchdown runs of 3 yards by Stevan Ridley and 4 yards by Shane Vereen.
The game began with touchdowns on the first three series: a 1-yard run by Delone Carter of the Colts, a 4-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski, and a 14-yard pass from Luck to Hilton.Stephen Gostkowski then missed a 36-yard field goal attempt for the Patriots.But their fortunes changed four plays later. Edelman brought a punt back for a touchdown for the third time in his career after the defense forced Luck into a three-and-out. And just three plays and 61 seconds after that, the Patriots scored on Talib’s touchdown to take the lead.The catch was an easy one — Luck threw the ball high over Reggie Wayne’s head — but the run was exceptional as Talib cut from the right side of the field to the left, eluding numerous Colts.
The Patriots obtained Talib from Tampa Bay before last Sunday’s 37-31 win over Buffalo. But he sat that one out to complete a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.“A lot of plays motivated the defense,” Talib said. “About that third or fourth (Colts) series, we kind of got into it. It was kind of quiet out there early (then) we started talking.”Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, booed often in a stadium where he once was adored, cut the lead to 21-17 on a 47-yard field goal 5:46 before intermission.
Notes : The Patriots are 18-0 in the second half of the season starting in 2010. ... Luck broke Peyton Manning’s NFL rookie record with his fifth game of at least 300 yards passing. ... Wes Welker stretched his streak to 104 games with at least one reception. ... Reggie Wayne tied Cris Carter’s NFL mark with 58 consecutive games with at least three catches. ... Colts WR Donnie Avery left the game with a concussion. Arians had no update after the game.
Patriots Have Lost Gronkowski, but Not Their Firepower
Tom Brady, right, will certainly miss Rob Gronkowski for a few weeks, but he has plenty more weapons.By the time Tom Brady did his weekly early-morning radio appearance in Boston on Monday, the reality of the balance sheet from the New England Patriots’ 59-24 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts had set in.
On the plus side, the Patriots had their most balanced, all-around performance of the season, scoring on special teams, offense and defense. But it is the cost that now hangs over the Patriots, and perhaps for the rest of the regular season. On the final extra-point conversion, tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his left forearm. He had surgery Monday, though the injury is not expected to end his season.“He’s such a great player,” Brady said on the radio station WEEI, adding that it stinks for the Patriots, “but it’s part of the game.”
It can be debated why Gronkowski was in to block on a garbage time extra point — and even more why the Patriots still had Brady in, and throwing, with less than six minutes to go in a game they already led by 28 points — but the end result is this: The Patriots could play the rest of the regular season without their second-best offensive player, trailing only Brady, and certainly their most versatile.“We have some flexibility in what we do,” Brady said. “We try to play to the strengths of our players.”As spectacular as Gronkowski is — and as much cultish devotion as he inspires among fans — his injury is not devastating for the Patriots, certainly not as catastrophic as the high ankle sprain that hampered him in last season’s Super Bowl.If Gronkowski misses four to six weeks, it is possible he will not play again until the playoffs. Barring a monumental and entirely unexpected collapse, the Patriots will win the A.F.C. East, which they lead by three games over a faltering field, with a Thanksgiving night game against the Jets the first chance to see the adjustments New England will have to make.
The Patriots (7-3), then, are mostly playing for seeding and a first-round bye, and they would have to move ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) or the Houston Texans (9-1), while holding off the Denver Broncos (7-3), to get that. As the N.F.L. has already proven, anything can happen this season — you definitely predicted Jacksonville taking Houston to overtime Sunday, right? — but the Patriots will need help to overtake them. After the Jets, the Patriots have games remaining against Houston and the San Francisco 49ers, among others.Still, the Jets and subsequent Patriots opponents are obviously catching a huge break with Gronkowski out. Gronkowski plays nearly all of the Patriots’ offensive snaps. He presents unique and terrifying matching problems — just ask the Colts, who tried to cover him for part of Sunday afternoon with a linebacker, to the tune of seven receptions for 137 yards — and is a particular threat in the red zone. Gronkowski scored twice against the Colts and has 37 touchdowns in his first three seasons, wide receiver-like numbers that lead the N.F.L. in that period.
When the Jets and the Patriots played this season, a 29-26 New England win in overtime, Gronkowski had 6 receptions for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. Last November against the Jets, he had 8 receptions for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns.So now what do the Jets worry about? Pretty much everything else.Remember when Patriots Coach Bill Belichick cornered the market on tight ends and everybody joked that perhaps he was working on a four tight-end set? Laugh no more. The Patriots may have their other superb tight end, Aaron Hernandez, whose ankle injury has kept him mostly off the field since September. Hernandez is a superb receiver, with nifty open-field moves, too, but is not the blocker that Gronkowski is. The veteran Daniel Fells can block, but not catch as well. Visanthe Shiancoe is known as a receiver. None of them us the total package that Gronkowski is, but none of them needs to be. The Patriots are famed for playing game-plan specific football; they change identity depending on their personnel and how it matches up with their opponents.
Early in the season it looked as if the Patriots were phasing Wes Welker out of the offense. They featured Brandon Lloyd for a few weeks, then Welker re-emerged. On Sunday, Julian Edelman had a breakout day with seven targets and five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown as part of a day in which he also rushed for 47 yards and had two punt returns for 117 yards and a touchdown. Brady was, well, Brady, throwing as well as he has all season, completing 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even Gronk-less, the offense produces absurd fireworks.The Jets, of course, are a different opponent. They do not possess great downfield receiving threats, and Mark Sanchez is not the passer, or the scrambler, Luck is. If the Patriots get as much pressure on Sanchez as they did on Luck, that would be ugly. Still, given Sanchez’s well-documented struggles, he has played surprisingly well against the Patriots. Earlier this season, he completed 28 of 41 passes for 328 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Sanchez is completing 55 percent of his passes this season, but in that overtime loss in Foxborough, he completed 68.3 percent, his third best this season. Go figure.
Last year, the Jets lost both games with the Patriots and Sanchez’s performance was mixed (16 of 26, 61.5 percent, for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns; 20 of 39, 51.3 percent, for 306 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions). And of course, in 2010, Sanchez and the Jets beat the Patriots twice, including in the playoffs when he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.Everyone knows this Jets team is far different from the one that went to the A.F.C. championship game twice and, despite the season-long shakiness of the Patriots’ secondary — which played much better against the Colts — it is hard to imagine the Jets have the weapons to pass their way to a victory Thursday. The formula is likely to be simple: try to run to control the clock, keep Brady off the field, keep the score low, and maybe get a few turnovers and take a few chances. The Jets simply cannot let the Patriots score into the 30s — they don’t have the firepower to keep up. The Jets, essentially, have to play almost perfectly. They can’t afford turnovers that give Brady extra possessions, and they can’t afford for their own offense to have too many three-and-outs.“The Jets have to slow the game down, and hold the Patriots to field goals,” said Michael Lombardi, the NFL Network analyst who was in Belichick’s personnel department in Cleveland. “They have to play good red-zone defense and try to keep the game in the 20s and have the ball at the end of the game to win the game. They can’t let the Patriots have the ball at the end with a chance to win.”
Gronk or no Gronk, that is a game the Jets — and most Patriots opponents — would not win.
Here are five more stats that demonstrate how much the Patriots are going to miss Rob Gronkowski :
1. Since his rookie season in 2010, Gronkowski leads the NFL with 37 TD receptions. Calvin Johnson is in second place with 31. With his ninth and 10th TD receptions of the 2012 season on Sunday (prior to his injury), Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history to record 3 straight seasons with double-digit TD receptions.
2. Tom Brady has fallen in love with his tight ends since the Patriots selected Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the 2010 NFL draft. Since the 2010 season, the Patriots have had 54 TD receptions from their tight ends. The Saints are a distant second place with 31.
3. Gronkowski's 37 career TD receptions are the third-most by any player in NFL history in his first 3 seasons. The all-time record of 43 by Randy Moss was within reach, as the Patriots have 6 games remaining in the regular season. Gronk is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, according to reports.
4. NEXT LEVEL: In 2010 and 2011, when Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were (relatively) healthy and playing almost all the time, the Patriots went from a multiple-TE formation on 1,506 out of 2,068 offensive plays -- which comes to whopping 72.8 percent of their plays from scrimmage, by far the highest percentage in the NFL. With Hernandez missing 6 of the Patriots' 10 games so far this season, that percentage has dropped to 44.1 percent (seventh in the NFL) and figures to stay around that number with Hernandez expected to return this week but Gronkowski now down for the next few games.
5. Gronkowski's injury means Tom Brady loses his favorite end zone target. Brady is completing 67 percent of his throws to Gronkowski in the end zone the last two seasons and just 29 percent to all other Patriots.
On Sunday, Gronkowski caught all seven targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Gronkowski caught his only end zone target, his fourth straight game with a touchdown on a pass into the end zone. Brady is 5-for-7 targeting Gronkowski in the end zone in his last four games.
Rex Ryan has no bold message for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots this week. Nope, no fightin' words this time around."I'm not even worried about tweaking New England or anybody else," Ryan said Monday. "It's to the point where we have to focus on us."After all, the way the usually brash coach sees it, the New York Jets (4-6) need to stay focused after ending a three-game skid Sunday with a 27-13 win at St. Louis.
"Right now, we're just swinging," Ryan said. "We're going focus on our opponents, specifically, but anything we do, we're behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves and just find a way to punch it. We earned where we are and we just have to find a way to punch our way out."The victory was a huge boost to the Jets' dim playoff hopes. Now, Ryan's squad has just a few days to prepare for the AFC East-leading Patriots, an extremely familiar opponent, and the teams' showdown Thanksgiving night."We know each other well, but clearly when you look at how their offense is, they can run a zillion different things," Ryan said. "I don't know how much of a help (a short week) will be, but I guess we'll see on Thursday."
Fittingly, quarterback Mark Sanchez wore a white T-shirt in the locker room with the words "We Will Persist" printed across the chest and "Until We Succeed" on the back. He has worn it a few times during the season."That's the most important thing is to not change our preparation and make sure it's focused the way it should be," he said. "But not to press, not to take things too lightly, just attack it the right way, and I think the coaches have really put an emphasis on that. We'll just keep rolling and hopefully rack up some more wins."The Jets are tied with Buffalo and Miami at 4-6 for second place — or,last place,depending on how you look at it — in the division,w/ the Patriots holding a three-game lead.While it appears likely New England will win its 10th AFC East title in 12 years, the Jets haven't given up on getting back to the playoffs after missing out last season.
Ryan has repeatedly expressed his respect for Belichick and the Patriots, but has also issued bold statements leading up to their matchups. He said, "I want them to know, and they know, that I think we're going to beat them," last month before the Patriots pulled out a 29-26 overtime victory.Ryan recognizes how dire the situation is right now, though, and that talk means little. Ryan isn't even concerned about needing to talk to his players about keeping the trash talk to a minimum."I don't know how much of that there will be," he said. "It's not something I'll bring up to the team."There's no doubt that the Patriots remain the Jets' biggest rivals, an assessment left guard Matt Slauson agreed with Monday."I don't hate the Patriots," Slauson said. "I respect the heck out of them. They're a really good team — but I like us a lot more."Last week was tumultuous for the Jets, with anonymous teammates taking shots at Tim Tebow in a newspaper report, and Woody Johnson meeting with Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and others, according to another report. A loss to the Rams might have signaled the start of a season unraveling.
Instead, there's a new sense of confidence around the team.It certainly helped that a few of the teams the Jets are chasing in the playoff picture lost Sunday, including Pittsburgh (6-4), Indianapolis (6-4) and San Diego (4-6). Not that Ryan and his team noticed, of course."We're not getting into that now," Ryan said. "We know we have to get better."The play of Sanchez on Sunday was a good start. The beleaguered starting quarterback had his most efficient performance in more than a month, going 15 of 20 for 178 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, no turnovers. Ryan and the Jets have stood by Sanchez all season despite the increasing calls from fans and media for the team to give Tebow a chance to save the season."It's part of the job," Sanchez said. "It's just the way things go when things don't go right on the field. It's natural, and it's a little more enhanced here in a market like this, so it's part of the territory. I've been there before and it doesn't really affect what we've been doing."At least for a few days, Sanchez quieted all that chatter."I think he needed it just like the rest of us needed it," Ryan said. "I don't think he's any different. We all needed it."
New York is 4-6 for the first time since 2009, when the Jets went on a roll and went all the way to the AFC championship game. While it may seem unrealistic to some that the Jets could produce a similar type of run, none of their remaining five opponents after the Patriots — Arizona (4-6), Jacksonville (1-9), Tennessee (4-6), San Diego (4-6) and Buffalo (4-6) — currently has a winning record."We got better as the season went on, and I think that's clearly what we have to do now," Ryan said. "If the players can draw from it, then that's great. Again, we have a ton of work in front of us and a short amount of time to prepare for, clearly, the best offensive team in the NFL."
WR Jason Hill (low back) was the only player who did not participate in the team's walkthrough — a rare practice under the lights. ... Ryan insisted he has not lost confidence in rookie WR Stephen Hill, who has dropped four passes, according to STATS LLC. "One thing I know for sure is we're going to keep throwing to him," Ryan said, "and I think this young man is going to realize, by the way, you can play this game."
Jets fighting for their playoff lives vs. Patriots
The Jets had their chance, and it was a good one, to beat the Patriots last month at Gillette Stadium, but defensive end Rob Ninkovich forced and recovered a game-sealing fumble in overtime and New England prevailed, 29-26.
The loss was the first of three straight for the Jets, who are now fighting for their playoff lives.New York ended its skid Sunday with a 27-13 win over the Rams and enters tomorrow night’s game against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium 4-6 and not thinking, or talking, too much about the postseason.“We’re happy we got the victory and things,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said yesterday, “but we put ourselves back so far that the only thing we can do is focus on right now. In our current situation, that’s trying to prepare to the best of our ability and keep trying to improve. That’s where we’re at. Everything else is such a distance away that we’re better off, better served to focus on what’s in front of us.”
During the three-game losing streak, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez completed just 55 percent of his passes, committed four turnovers, and was sacked nine times.He was better against the Rams, going 15 of 20 for 170 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. New York’s defense had three takeaways which were converted into 14 points.“They played really well against St. Louis,” Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker said. “They’re a physical team, they got to the quarterback, caused some negative plays. They’ve got some momentum coming off that game. We have to keep our momentum going.”
Ryan : Gronk injury ‘a fluke’
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been second-guessed by a lot of the pundits out there for even having tight end Rob Gronkowski on the field for the final extra point of Sunday’s 59-24 win over the Colts. It was on that play that Gronkowski suffered a broken forearm that will keep him out 4-8 weeks.
Ryan thinks the criticism Belichick has taken is unwarranted.“Absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan said. “It was on an extra point. He’s done that probably 100 times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. You never see that. Every single team in the league does that. We have (starting left tackle) D’Brickashaw Ferguson in there. You don’t play the game that way. It’s just an unfortunate thing. That’s just a freak deal that would happen.”
Give Talib time
New cornerback Aqib Talib reviewed his first game as a member of the Patriots. “I watched it a couple times,” Talib said. “A couple corrections and it could be a lot better.”
Talib, whom the Patriots acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay Nov. 1, had seven tackles, a pass defensed and a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown in New England’s 59-24 win over the Colts.He was also in coverage on two of Indy’s touchdown receptions.
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 334 yards, so the pass defense is still not up to par, but the Patriots intercepted Luck three times and got their hands on a number of balls (11 passes defensed).Talib and Kyle Arrington started at the corners against the Colts, while Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory were the starting safeties. Alfonzo Dennard, Tavon Wilson and Marquice Cole also played.“The more you play, the more you mesh as a secondary,” Talib said. “The more time you get together, the more it helps.”
Ryan was impressed with Talib’s immediate energy and production.“He’s a very talented young man,” Ryan said, “and obviously with (Bill) Belichick, he does a lot of different things on defense to take advantage of players’ talents. It’s going to be really interesting to see what he does with Talib because if his first game is any indication, that’s not bad.”
The team conducted a walkthrough yesterday and there were no changes from Monday’s practice report. … The Patriots last played on Thanksgiving in 2010, a 45-24 win over the Lions. … Quarterback Tom Brady has 51 career 300-yard games and needs one more to break a sixth-place tie with Dan Fouts and move into a tie for fifth with Kurt Warner. … In the last five games, Jets defensive lineman Muhammed Wilkerson has 37 tackles, two sacks, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery he returned 21 yards for a touchdown. … The winner of the turnover battle has won six of the last eight games in the series. … The Patriots signed defensive back Malcolm Williams to the practice squad
For two weeks of every NFL season, Tom Brady doesn't so much occupy the Jets' thoughts as he does consume them. This season is no different, and if anything, he has been an even greater focal point for them over the last few days, as they get ready to face him and the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving.
Why are teams fearful of blitzing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ?
Brady is having a typical Brady season—which is to say, stupendous. In 10 games, he has 21 touchdowns and close to 3,000 passing yards. He hasn't thrown an interception in more than a month as the Patriots (7-3) have won four straight."You can almost say he's a machine back there," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. "You get those once-in-a-generation type quarterbacks, and he's just a special guy."
There is one area, though, where Brady has been vulnerable this season—and if the Jets (4-6) are to win Thursday, they will have to take advantage of it. Brady's effectiveness plummets when an opposing defense is able to pressure him.For example, Brady is completing 65.1% of his passes this season. Just 10 quarterbacks have a higher rate. But according to the statistical and scouting agency Pro Football Focus, Brady's completion rate against pressure this season is 42.5%, the 26th-best mark among the NFL's top 31 quarterbacks.Pro Football Focus also tracks a quarterback's accuracy when harassed (a statistic in which dropped passes are counted as completions). Brady isn't much better there, ranking 25th in the league (58%).
"If you look at it, every quarterback in the NFL, when they're facing a blitz, they're not going to be as accurate, of course, because the ball has to come out of their hand quicker and it messes up timing," Jets linebacker David Harris said. "I don't see him no different from any other quarterback who's got a guy running free at his face."Still, Harris's eyes widened at the suggestion that the Jets should blitz Brady more frequently in an attempt to disrupt the New England offense. That is because Brady is so adept at neutralizing or avoiding pressure before and after the ball is snapped (though the Giants, given their two recent Super Bowl victories over New England, would disagree).
"He is the best in the league at what he does: reading coverages, finding the open guy, knowing who's missing, who's not," Harris said. "He reads every little thing that an opponent may do."That quality makes teams reluctant to blitz him, and it goes a long way to explaining why Brady has faced pressure on just 23.7% of his snaps this season. Just two quarterbacks, the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton and the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, have been pressured less frequently.The key to getting the better of Brady, several Jets said, is to do one of two things. The first is to cover the Patriots' receivers as tightly as possible as they run their read-and-react routes—patterns in which they and Brady seem to communicate telepathically.
In the teams' first matchup this season, a 29-26 overtime Patriots victory Oct. 21, the Jets never sacked, hit or hurried Brady. Nevertheless, thanks to a strong game by their secondary, they limited him to 6.17 yards per pass attempt in the game, his lowest mark of the season.The second goal is to confuse him, to make him think a blitz is coming from the right, say, when it is coming from the left—or when it isn't coming at all."You can't give him the same look twice," Harris said. "You've got to be able to disguise it, make him move around, be a little comfortable in the pocket. If you don't, if you let him get all day back there, he will tear you apart, and I've been in games when he's done that to us. It's not a fun feeling."
The Jets’ season very much rests on this Thursday night’s game against the Patriots.A win and the 4-6 Jets would take a big step toward making a legitimate push for the postseason, while a loss would mean they would have to play perfect football for the five remaining games to have a chance of sniffing the postseason. There is hope for the Jets who played the Patriots to a 29-26 road loss in Week 7.
Three things to watch ...
1. Patriots living life without Gronk
With Rob Gronkowski undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a broken forearm, the Jets catch a bit of a break with the Patriots offense losing one of their prime targets.He is always a matchup problem for a Jets linebacker corps that is aging and slow, and there are question marks as to who will replace him. Tight end Aaron Hernandez is still recovering from an ankle injury and might make a limited impact on Thursday night, which means that the Patriots could well turn to Visanthe Shiancoe. Shiancoe is a veteran with a proven track record as an outstanding target, but he has failed to register a catch in the two games he’s played this season.
2. Jets try to get over the ‘Hill’ at receiver
Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill was expected to go through some growing pains, but the learning curve has certainly been steep.It isn’t an issue of the physicality of the NFL, as Hill has been tremendous in his blocking and has certainly gotten open on his routes. It also isn’t the playbook, as he has a good grasp of it.The bottom line is Hill is having a hard time holding onto the ball, with several big drops, including one in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss in Foxboro several weeks ago.“One thing I know for sure is we’re going to keep throwing to him and I think this young man is going to realize, by the way, you can play this game,” Rex Ryan said.
3. Winning the battle of time of possession
One reason why the Jets hung in the game at New England several weeks ago was their ability to systematically move the ball down the field and win the battle of the clock.
The numbers weren’t gaudy, but the Jets rushed for 106 yards and seven first downs in that game, meaning they did just enough to keep the chains moving. In doing so, they kept the ball out of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s hands and limited their ability to score points. In that overtime loss, the Jets held the ball for 35:49, four minutes more than the Patriots. If they can do that again, they have a chance to win.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.
The Jets entered the season with the mindset that Shonn Greene would be the workhorse in the backfield, with Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight there to spell him. The team is now looking to rotate three running backs Rex Ryan said Monday."I think it is the ideal scenario for us because we have three very capable backs," Ryan said. "Instead of just throwing one guy in there all the time to take all the hits and all the protections and the routes and all that. I think when you have three guys coming in, I think that's what the league is going to. You don't have that guy that necessarily does it all every snap anymore the way you used to with a Walter Payton or whatever. You kind of divide that role up. I think for us it's good."
Having all three running backs healthy is now key for the Jets. Powell has battled a concussion and a shoulder injury recently and McKnight has had ankle issues forcing the team to rely primarily on Greene. Greene has started all but one game this season.
"If they're just looking for Shonn Greene in the game the whole time and looking between the tackles, then you throw Bilal in the game and he goes off-tackle," McKnight said. "It's a change of pace to the game and it's always good to get everybody some touches."The Jets were able to split up the work Sunday with all three backs active. Powell had 28 snaps, Greene had 26 and McKnight finished with seven. The three backs combined for 120 yards on the day. Greene led the way with 18 carries to Powell's 11 and McKnight's four, although Powell did catch two passes out of the backfield and also had two rushing touchdowns.
Greene, who leads the teams with 631 rushing yards and five touchdowns, isn't worried about his touches, saying he's not a selfish player. He's averaging 17.2 rushes per game. He expects it will help to have all three healthy backs contributing."That's a big contribution to this game and it's going to help out a lot giving the defense different looks like that, and keeping everybody fresh," Greene said. "With Joe and Bilal, they got some skill sets that can help us win games so we want to use that to our advantage."As the Jets look to use a committee, it's part of a growing trend of teams moving away from having one primary ball carrier and instead divvying up the carries. They only need to look around their division and realize the benefits of having a multiple-back rushing attack.
"You see the Patriots do it with their different backs. Miami does it. Buffalo's doing it," Ryan said. "If you have the talent, when the guys are healthy and all that, fresh, I think that's the best way."
The Jets may be out of the guarantee business, but that didn’t stop them from delivering a Beware of Underdog message to the Patriots yesterday.“I feel like we were real loose this week at practice, which is good to see,” Mike DeVito said. “I think a tendency that we’ve had in the past when it’s Patriots Week is to tighten up, you naturally get a little bit tight because you recognize the importance of the game, and how physical and ratcheted up it always is. ... You play this game too tight, you’re not gonna be successful. You play this game loose and with swag and having fun, that’s when you’re gonna do well, and I think guys are happy about that.
“I just know we play well when we feel like this.”
DeVito was asked if he senses that this team is ready to play its best game.“Without a doubt, yeah without a doubt.” DeVito said. “Guys are really confident. We’re gelling as a team, we believe in each other, and I have no doubt that we’re gonna be ready to go on Thursday night.”They respect Tom Brady. He throws one touchdown pass at a time, just like every other quarterback. They respect Bill Belichick. He puts his head in one hoodie at a time, just like every other head coach would.
“We definitely need to win out,” LaRon Landry said.He was seated alone at his locker, a buzz of excitement inside a vibrant locker room around him.“I think we have every piece to the puzzle. ... We just gotta put it together,” Landry said.
Do you sense that this team is ready to put it together ?
Landry was asked what kind of a Jets team Jets fans should expect to see tomorrow night.“A team that’s passionate. ... A team that will give it all it’s got, empty out the tank and do anything ... and when the clock hits zero-zero in the fourth quarter or overtime ... we’re drained, that we left it all out on the field. We won’t give up, no matter what.”It is a mentality that Rex Ryan breeds, especially now, when the desperate Jets are 4-6 with little or no margin for error.“Each individual’s got to dig a little deeper, “ Landry said, “and when your body feels so tired that it can’t go no more, your mind’s got to overpower that, man. There’s definitely a lot at stake if we lose.”They have sealed the borders from outsiders, closed ranks since L’Affaire Anonymous.
“We never split. ... We fixed it, we addressed it,” Landry said.Landry visited the Patriots during free agency before deciding on the Jets. Ryan was at the Jets complex when Landry arrived. Belichick was nowhere to be found during Landry’s Foxborough visit.“It sends a message, to me,” Landry said. “If you’re trying to get a guy to come to your organization, you want to meet everybody ... owner ... the whole nine, man — especially the head coach. There wasn’t as much emphasis that I need to be there. ... I made the right decision.”
The Jets’ three-headed monster at running back gives them optimism that they will have a chance to keep Brady off the field.“I do remember this about our first couple of wins about the Patriots is we controlled the clock because of the ground game, so that is definitely gonna be huge,” Matt Slauson said.What kind of a team would he tell Jets fans to expect on Thanksgiving Night.“I would expect to see a high-motor, high-enthusiasm team. ..We’re gonna be flying around that field.Regardless of what happens in the game, we’re gonna fight until the very end of the game with everything we got.”They have been in this kind of hole before and understand how to dig out of it.“In 2009, 2010, we kind of dug ourselves into a hole, and we battled and battled,” Slauson said.
Not that I believe this will happen and I'm certainly not trying to suggest anything other than an intriguing, tongue in cheek proposition but....
....IF the 4-6 Jets beat the 7-3 Pats this thursday, there is a very likely chance the 5-6 Jets are favorites over all remaining opponents while the 7-4 Patriots would be the underdogs to both the 49ers and Texans.
~ ~ NJ Transit Offers Rail Shuttle Service Thursday Night
NJ TRANSIT will offer rail shuttle service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex for Thursday night's Jets-Patriots game. Service to MetLife Stadium will begin at 4:30 p.m. out of Hoboken (westbound). The last train from the sports complex to Hoboken (eastbound) will not depart Meadowlands Station any earlier than 12:40 a.m.
You can view the schedule here.
Customers travelling on NJ TRANSIT trains to the Meadowlands Sports Complex should purchase their round-trip tickets from their originating station TO THE MEADOWLANDS SPORTS COMPLEX to avoid delays boarding trains. Tickets purchased on the train will include a $5 surcharge for each ticket.NJ TRANSIT offers Meadowlands online ticketing option where customers can purchase round-trip adult tickets from New York Penn Station to the Meadowlands Sport Complex only. Up to eight tickets may be purchased in one transaction.
The final Meadowlands-bound train will depart Hoboken at 8:25 p.m.
Customers traveling to and from Hoboken on the following trains must change trains at Secaucus :
■ Train 2003 (5:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
■ Train 2015 (6:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
■ Train 2029 (7:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
■ Train 2039 (8:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
■ Train 1978 (5:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
■ Train 1988 (6:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
■ Train 2004 (7:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
For further information, call NJ TRANSIT Customer Service at (973) 275-5555.
Five nuggets of knowledge about the Patriots-Jets Thanksgiving Day game :
Win or go home :
A poor start by the New York Jets this season makes this a must-win game on Thanksgiving. The Jets are 4-6 and losers of three of their past four games. They cannot afford to lose another game with only six weeks left in the regular season. The Patriots do not need this win. But this is a prime opportunity for New England to end its biggest rival’s season on the Jets’ home field. These two teams have had some intense games with a lot on the line before. Expect the Jets to throw everything they have left at the Patriots in this game.The Patriots will surely miss Rob Gronkowski's effectiveness in the red zone as he recovers from a broken forearm.
"Gronk" factor :
This will be the first game the Patriots play this season without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski. He broke his forearm in Sunday's blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts and will be out several weeks. New England’s top-rated offense has a bevy of weapons and shouldn’t miss Gronkowski too much in the short term. However, the Patriots will miss him most in the red zone, where Gronkowski has seven touchdown receptions in his past four games.
Big-game Sanchez :
Despite all the criticisms toward New York starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, one important thing he has going is the ability to play well in big games against the Patriots. Sanchez has a knack for lighting up New England’s defense. He threw for a season-high 328 yards in New York’s Week 7 overtime loss to the Patriots. Sanchez also connected for a career-high nine passes of 15 yards or more in that game. Sanchez is 3-5 all-time against New England and likely needs another big game for the Jets to pull the upset.
More work for Talib :
New England made a midseason trade to improve its struggling secondary. The Patriots acquired talented but troubled cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made an immediate impact in his first game with an interception return for a touchdown against the Colts. Talib recently concluded a four-game suspension and was clearly winded at times. His workload will only increase as he continues to work himself into football shape.
Special-teams contrast :
Thursday’s game will pit New England's hot special teams against the Jets' special teams, which have gone cold. New England is coming off one of its best special-teams performances of the season in Week 11. The Patriots had a punt return for a touchdown by Julian Edelman and also forced a fumble on special teams against the Colts. The Jets began the year in solid fashion on special teams but have been mostly outplayed in the past month. This third phase of the game could make an important difference.