By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
September 14, 2008

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Admit it. Sunday's 19-10 win over the Jets was some of the most fun you've had watching Patriots football in a long time. To someone from away, that would be a ridiculous statement. But really, nothing quite satisfies like when the Patriots are counted down and out and they time and again show up and put a whooping on an opponent, now does it?

What is it about games against the Jets in September? They historically mean so much.

In 1997, we had Tuna Bowl I where the Patriots escaped in overtime thanks to a last second Mike Jones block of a New York Jet game-winning field goal. In 1999, we had Vinny Testaverde blow out his Achilles tendon and Keyshawn Johnson have a post-game press conference tuna meltdown after a 30-28 loss to the Patriots. A 10-3 loss to the Jets just a few weeks after 9/11 changed everything after a Mo Lewis punishing hit on Drew Bledsoe. And then there was that nasty little spygate thing last September on opening day.

And we will add this game to the heap as it will have its own historical context in the long-standing border war between the Patriots and Jets. You had Brett Favre wearing a funny shade of green on his jersey. You had the largest question mark in sometime in Matt Cassel. No matter what your know-it-all buddy tells you, there was no idea to know what to expect from him. And then you have to weigh just what this loss will do to the mental state of the Jets.

Let's review.

Without question, the Jets had far more at stake in this game than the Patriots. For New England, it was one game perhaps towards a reclamation project. For the Jets, a win would legitimize their offseason drunken sailor spending spree and announce their arrival on the AFC scene.

In an obvious attempt to finally topple the Patriots and save a few jobs while they were at it, Jets management went out in the offseason and picked up Brett Favre, Damien Woody, Calvin Pace, Alan Faneca, Kris Jenkins and a few others in a bid to bring some veteran presence to their lineup. A confidence building week one win in Miami and the gift of Tom Brady being knocked out for the season was not enough to make the Jets look like players at the AFC dance club. And all this begs the question of just where do the Jets turn from here?

Turning to the Patriots, it will come as a relief to all of you that the sky didn't fall with Matt Cassel at quarterback. He went 15-22 for 160 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns. As Bill Parcells would caution us, "Let's not put him in Canton just yet." He played well enough to win and by that he didn't make any mistakes. Please don't use that word "manage" when analyzing Cassel's game. I mean, just what does "managing" a game at quarterback mean? I have never gotten a straight answer on that cliché and I retired the trophy on the topic of using clichés in my everyday vocabulary.

What the Patriots proved is what most long-time observers of the team have known as an irrevocable truth. Namely, the team generally plays its best when it is counted out and disrespected by the national media just dying to be the first ones to proclaim the Patriots run over. "All you haters keep hatin', we're comin'," said wide receiver Randy Moss after the game. Not enough action from the disrespect card dealer for your liking? Try a hand of Bill Belichick's "A lot of people didn't expect us to do much today, but these guys came in here today with a lot of determination."

The disrespect hat always fits no matter the season.

We all know that Tom Brady was/is the Franchise, but this team won a lot of games since that Mo Lewis hit on the backs of a lot of other players; especially on the defense. The Brandon Merriweather interception in the second half of the game in Jets territory felt like an old sweater that fit just right. After the ensuing touchdown run by Sammy Morris most fans—present company included—said "Geez, I think they are going to win this one going away."

Dominant play from the front seven was evident all day long. Richard Seymour looked like his old self. Mix in a clutch sack of Favre in the fourth quarter by Adalius Thomas. And don't forget four three-and-outs and stiffening up on the opening drive after the Jets had the ball 1st-and-goal at the New England three yard-line. You can see where I'm going with this.

Like I wrote last week, you are in for a fun ride this year Patriots fans. It wasn't the one you were expecting when you walked through the door at Rocky Point amusement park. It will frustrate you at times but more often it will make you sit up and take notice of the great football players on this team that don't have a number twelve on their jersey. Enjoy it.

The Jets in September is always a ride worth taking.