Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs returns the second half kick a record 108 yards for a TD which at the time put New England up 21-7. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
For those who have played football or know anything about the sport know that each game is won in the trenches and the trenches being the offensive and defensive lines. So, if games are won in the trenches, then that means the Patriots manhandled the Jets Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands in front of an announced crowd of 77,900.
“I thought we had a good week of practice coming into the game, I thought we had a good game plan,” said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. “We didn’t execute the plan as well as it should have been excuted. And that’s all of us. That’s the coaching staff and players. And any time you have the big plays the Patriots had, it makes it tough.”
Patriots QB Tom Brady looked like he didn’t even break a sweat. Brady was given all the time in the world all afternoon. The Jets defensive line rarely forced Brady out of the pocket. Brady went 22-for-27 for 297 yards and three scores. He had a quarterback rating on 146.6.
On the other hand Jets quarterback Chad Pennington was chased all over the place. The offensive line, which included Adrien Clarke instead rookie Jacob Bender, could not offer any protection for Pennington. Pennington went 16-for-21 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Pennington was also sacked five times.
And the last sack did look good for Gang Green. About five minutes into the third quarter Patriots DL Jarvis Green sacked Pennington. Pennington then came up limping. Instead of staying down on the ground Pennington hobbled off the field. QB Kellen Clemens would come in for one play, but Pennington did return to lead his team down for their second score.
But as the game was out of the reach, Pennington spoke with Mangini and asked to be taken out of the game. With the Patriots playing for the pass, Pennington did not want to jeopardize a severe injury.
“I never had a lower leg injury before. I just tried to walk it off. I know I wasn’t just going to lay there. I am sure I will see the doctors frequently this week,” said Pennington. “With six minutes left, down 31-14 I had to first time be brutally honest with myself as far as injuries are concerned and say without the threat of the run I am kind of a sitting duck back there.”
Pennington, Mangini or Jets did give out any information about Chad’s injury or the possible length of time he could miss. After the game Pennington was seen having right ankle taped.
Early on the Jets offense looked pretty good. Pennington got some good looks on the first offensive drive. Pennington led his team from there own 20 to midfield, where their drive got stalled as Jerricho Cotchery got pulled down after eight yards when he needed nine to get the first down.
The Patriots took an early 7-0 lead on Gang Green. After P Ben Graham pinned the Patriots deep in their zone, Patriots QB Tom Brady led his team down the field. Brady engineered a 12 plays, 91 yard drive, which ended with Brady hooking up with new acquisition WR Wes Welker on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Brady went 4-for-5 for 20 yards passing. On that drive the Jets defense really got to know Patriots RB Laurence Maroney. Maroney carried the ball six times for 30 yards, along with tallying three first downs.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jets fans got a huge scare. CB/KR Justin Miller, who has been injured most of training camp, almost gave the ball right back to the Patriots as LB Larry Izzo forced the ball out of Miller’s hands, but TE Chris Baker was able to recover the fumble.
With the Patriots up 7-0, New England started their third possession with their best field position of the day as they started on their own 42. The Patriots looked like they on the verge to add to their seven point lead. Brady, who fell in love with Welker Sunday afternoon, could not find him on third down. After the failed third down, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sent out his field goal team. Unable to get a kick off because of a bobbled snap by holder Matt Cassel they allowed the Jets to take over deep in their own zone. The Jets offense could not allow another opportunity at points slip away.
Like his counterpart Brady did earlier, Pennington also led his team down the field. Pennington went 6-for-6, 68 yards during a 10 play, 66 yard drive, which ended with a Laveranues Coles seven yard touchdown pass. Coles went in motion, caught the Patriots secondary sleeping as Pennington right into the arms of an open Coles.
But the Patriots would answer right back. Brady took his team down the field through the air. Brady made quick work of Jets cornerbacks as he victimized both Miller and David Barrett. Brady connected with WR Randy Moss twice. The first completion to Moss was for 33-yards as he beat Miller downfield, than Moss beat Barrett for a 22-yard completion. It would lead to a Patriots touchdown as Brady found TE Ben Watson in the back of the end zone. The Jets tried to put some points on the board before halftime, but after a Pennington sack, the teams went to the locker room with the score 14-7 Patriots.
Then came the play that took the air out the Jets tires and the wind out of the Jets sail. Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs took opening kick of the second half and returned it 108 yards to give the Patriots a 21-7 lead. Hobbs only needed to break one tackle as he scored longest touchdown in Patriots history.
“That was tough to swallow. The good thing was that our offense went out there and put together a pretty good drive,” said Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma about how devastating Hobbs return was. “It’s tough for us because we’re usually pretty good on special teams, but on that play we weren’t.”
With the Jets down two touchdowns then came the Pennington injury. QB Kellen Clemens came in (to an overwhelming cheer from the crowd) for one play and completed his only pass to Thomas Jones for six yards.
Things would only got worse for Gang Green. Brady, who picked on Barrett all game long continue to work over the veteran corner. Brady connected with Moss for 51 yard touchdown pass as Moss beat Barrett and S Erik Coleman downfield. Moss was lined up on the near the Jets sideline and ended up catching the pass in the front corner of the endzone on the Patriots sideline.
“Anytime you give up big plays, the momentum shifts and the approach dramatically shifts,” Mangini said.
With New England up now three scores, the Jets needed a lift. Despite leaving with what appeared to be an ankle injury, Pennington hobbled back on the field. Even though Pennington played with a noticeable limp, he was able to lead his team downfield again as he connected with Coles for a one yard touchdown pass.
But 14 points would be as close as it gets. Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski added a 22-yard field goal and FB Heath Evans added a touchdown on a one yard touchdown run to make the final score 38-14.
Coles Defends Coaching Staff
Even though Mangini put some of the blame on the coaching staff, WR Laveranues Coles did not. Coles said the coaches came up with a very good gameplan and they an even better job presenting it to the team in practice.
“It has nothing to do with our coaching staff. They had a great game plan and put us in great positions to make plays,” said Coles. “As players we have to look at ourselves individually and ask ‘did you play the best game that you could play today? Did you man up or did you get whooped’.”
Miller Leaves Game Early
Jets CB Justin Miller had a rough afternoon. Miller who had been injured most of training camp, hasn’t seen much action and it showed. Miller fumbled the ball on a kickoff return. Miller was also beat by Randy Moss for a big gain.
“It wasn’t anything to do with being angry with him. It more like if we see this again, this how I want you to play this,” Mangini said. “Anytime we have someone we need to examine we have our medical staff take a look at it. It was not a coaching decision.”
Clemens Finally Gets a Taste of the NFL
QB Kellen Clemens finally got a chance to play in the NFL. Even though it’s not the way he would wanted to enter, he finally got chance to show what he can do in front of the home crowd.
“It’s not the circumstances you want before you go into the game. But it was nice to get some meaningful time when the game was still somewhat close,” said Clemens.
Jets Climbing Up The Record Book
Sunday afternoon, some Jets were able to achieve some individual milestones. And here they are.
Pennington passed the 12, 000 yards plateau. He now has 12,140 passing yards. He also moved into fourth all-time on the Jets all-time completions list. He has 1,095 as passed Vinny Testaverde who has 1,094.
RB Thomas Jones who had a quiet afternoon moved up on the all-time rushing list. With 42 yards he is 82nd with 5,425. He passed Jim Nance (5,401) and Dick Bass (5,417).
WR Laveranues Coles moved up on the all-time receptions list with 513. He is now 85th all-time. In front of him is Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith with 515 career receptions. He also moved into 10th all-time on the TD reception as a Jet list. After Sunday’s game he has 30 TD receptions as a Jet.
Baltimore Up Next
The Jets lives don’t get any easier. Next week the Jets will travel to Baltimore to take on Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. And the Jets know if they don’t go to work this week in practice, the Jets could conceivably start the season 0-2.
“I have never played them but from what I hear they are pretty good ballclub,” said Clemens.