Jets derail Pats offense en route to huge 16-9 victory.
EAST RUTHERFORD NJ – The rest of the league has officially been put on notice: It’s a new Era of New York Jets football.
They play lights-out defense. They’re brash, unafraid to talk trash to anyone, including a team that’s beaten them eight straight times in their own building and been the class of the league for nearly a decade. But most importantly, they back up what they put in the papers on the football field.
You couldn’t have asked for more from Gang Green Sunday afternoon. The defense disrupted and confused Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense, and the offense was just good enough to propel the Jets to an exhilerating 16-9 victory in Giants Stadium, their first victory over New England at home since Al Groh roamed the sidelines as head coach.
“We’re a team that should be respected,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
After Sunday’s victory, this club will not only be respected, but feared.
Ryan set the tone before the opening whistle, choosing to defer after winning the coin toss. He wanted his defense to be on the field first to show the Patriots offense and quarterback Tom Brady what was in store.
But most of all, he wanted the crowd he had implored early in the week to be loud Sunday to get into the game as early as possible. And the sellout group obliged, making the rafters wobble with deafening roars on every Pats possession.
“I think our fans were huge in this victory,” Ryan said. “In fact, we’re giving a game ball to our fans; it will be in our trophy case. “We thought they were the difference.”
“It was something else to hear how loud they were,” signal caller Mark Sanchez said. “They were the twelfth man when we were on defense. It gave their offense fits.”
Not that the defense needed much help. The unit held their opposition out of the end zone for the second consecutive week, surrendering just three first half field goals. The first opened the game’s scoring at the 6:50 mark in the first quarter, when Steven Gostkowski capped a trip to the Red Zone with a 45-yard field goal to put the Pats up 3-0.
It would be a theme for the day, as the Jets defense would bend but not break on three separate occasions. After running back Leon Washington fumbled deep in Jets territory, the group held the Brady-lead offense to three points, pushing the lead to six early in the second quarter. But the Jet offense, stagnant for the game’s first 25 minutes, orchestrated a ten-play, 52-yard drive resulting in a 33-yard Jay Feely field goal, cutting the lead in half at 6-3.
As time wound down in the first half, Brady lead the Pats on a clock-eating drive, resulting in the groups third trip to the Red Zone in the half. But again, the defense would bear down, and Gostkowski’s third field goal put the Pats up 9-3 heading into the half.
But when play resumed, it seemed as if the training wheels had been taken off the Jets offense. Just 3-5 for 15 yards in the first half, Sanchez hit wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on the first play from scrimmage with a 45-yard strike on a post route, bringing the ball to the Pats’ 11. Just two plays later, Sanchez rolled to his right, and floated a ball to the back of the end zone for tight end Dustin Keller, who tucked his feet in front of the sideline for a 9-yard touchdown grab.
“I think we opened things up,” Sanchez said of the stark contrast between the first and second half from the offense. “We threw the ball a little more. It balanced out our attack, rushes and throws. That whole first half we were gaining tough yards on the ground and not converting like we had the week before on third down. But we came back and when we needed it we had a great push up front and made some conversions. We really responded.”
Suddenly, the Jets had taken a 10-9 advantage, after being nearly inept on the offensive end for 30 minutes of play. It was all the defense would need.
They didn’t “embarass” Tom Brady and the prolific Patriots offense, but they certainly left them frustrated, and demoralized. They didn’t record a sack, but their variety of exotic blitzes disrupted the intricate timing of the offense, forcing Brady into quick, and mostly errant, throws. They limited the NFL’s posterboy to a final line of 23-47 for 216 yards, and a first quarter interception by lockdown Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Taking his place amongst the elite corners in the game, Revis shut down the second premier receiver he’s faced in as many weeks, limiting Pats wideout Randy Moss to 4 catches for just 25 yards.
“I just tried to be physical with him on the line,” Revis said of his play on Moss. “You can’t let him get vertical. He will tear you apart if you don’t put hands on him. You can’t give credit just to me (though). It was the entire defense. The defensive line did a great job. The secondary as a whole, Ahmad Carroll and Drew Coleman did a great job. So you have to tip your hats off to those guys, too.”
A Jay Feely 24-yard field goal moved the Jets lead to four points, but Gang Green had missed a golden opportunity for six when Sanchez overthrew a wide open Chansi Stuckey in the back of the end zone. Normally, those are the kind of mistakes you can’t make against the New England Patriots. But when you have a defense like this one, those simply become missed opportunities.
The unit was so dominant, in fact, that Brady was forced into three Delay of Game penalties over the course of the day, two of which came on back-to-back plays. The Jets D left the quarterback befuddled at times, and with the Pats unable to do anything offensively, the stage was set for Sanchez to put the game away.
But the Pats defense held the Jets to another field goal with 9:48 to play, pushing the lead to a not-so-comfortable seven points. There was entirely too much time for Brady and the Pats to be only down a touchdown. But there would be no fourth quarter magic from Brady on this day, as he got the ball in his hands twice in the final five minutes of play, and couldn’t move the ball past midfield in either possession. The afternoon culminated in the last drive of the day, when cornerback Dwight Lowery swatted away a pass on fourth and ten to seal the win and send the Jets faithful into utter pandemonium.
“Any time you can hold Brady to under 50% completions, that’s saying a hell of a lot. “I can’t remember the last time the Patriots went 0-3 in the Red Zone in a game. I thought our guys did a great job.”
“It was a great team effort. The Patriots are a hell of a football team, I just thought we were the better team today. That’s all we said from the beginning; that we believed we were the better team today. And we went out and showed it.”
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
Leon Washington had 127 yards on four kickoff returns, good for a 31.8 yard average on the day. His returns set the Jets up in great field position all game long; his return to open the second half keyed the scoring drive that put the Jets up for good.
Defensively, Kerry Rhodes backed up his pregame comments, leading the Jets with six solo tackles. He was also true to his word; the Jets hit Tom Brady seven times on the afternoon, more than the six the Buffalo Bills put on him in Monday night’s game.
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