By: Bob George/BosSports.net
September 19, 2010

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E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- You might have thought that Bob Bratkowski, Cincinnati offensive coordinator, snuck onto the Patriot sidelines and called the plays for the Patriots this week.

Last week, his lack of effective play calling until the game was out of hand masked the porous Patriot defense. This week, the Patriots were unable to mask anything, as Tom Brady threw two interceptions and coughed up a lost fumble which greatly helped the New York Jets defeat the Patriots, 28-14 at New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday.

The lost fumble was simply a good play made by injured former Dolphin Jason Taylor. But the two interceptions were the residue of some lousy offensive play calling by the Patriots. The Patriots don't have the rushing attack they think they have, and for some reason known only to the team itself it got away from the aggressive downfield attack they were running with success to open up a 14-7 lead at one point. But the Patriots got away from that in the third quarter, and the Jets scored the final 21 points to win the game and once again make the Patriots look completely foolish after all the trash talk, much like the Jet win last year in Joisey.

It looks like they weren't kidding when they said that Darrelle Revis had a bum hamstring. He left the game late in the first half just after surrendering a 34-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss on a nifty one-handed catch by the slouch receiver. Revis never returned, and the Patriots were completely unable to take advantage of the weakened Jet secondary, a secondary the Patriots should have had no problem with as long as Revis was out of the game.

But the Patriots changed their playcalling in the third quarter, and key moments in the game swung the momentum to the Jets for good.

It was clear that the Patriots needed to keep attacking the Jets following the New Yorkers' final drive of the first half, where Mark Sanchez finally found a rhythm and used two passes for 32 yards to tight end Dustin Keller to get Nick Folk into field goal range, and he boomed a 49-yarder to make it 14-10 as time expired in the first half. After holding the Jets to three-and out to begin the third quarter, Brady took the Patriots and marched them from their 30 to the Jet 44.

On first down, Fred Taylor was stuffed for a one-yard loss. Taylor had been held in check all game long, and the 2nd and 11 allowed the Jets to be more aggressive in their defensive tactics. After a bubble screen to Wes Welker was stopped for a two-yard loss, Brady tried to loft one deep right to Moss. Brady led the wrong receiver perfectly, as he hit Anthony Cromartie right in stride. The Jets took over at the three, and marched 80 yards to a 36-yard field goal by Folk to cut the Patriot lead to one point.

The problems here were the run by Taylor and the bomb to Moss. Brady does a lot of things well, but long passes aren't one of them. He did manage to hit Moss in the first half, but that was a touchdown only because Moss made an unbelievable one-handed catch. Otherwise, Brady tends to overthrow long balls. Attacking the middle was the way to go, as Welker and Aaron Hernandez (they caught 12 of the 20 Brady completions) were making lots of hay in the first half.

The Patriots got the ball back with a one-point lead. On first down, they called for a run to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The new Laurence Maroney was stuffed for no gain, and two incomplete passes ensued thanks to tremendous defensive pressure on second and third and long. Green-Ellis averaged 1.9 yards per carry, three-tenths worse than Taylor. The stuff on first down did that drive in right from the start, and the Jets answered with a six-play, 70-yard drive to put them ahead to stay, 21-14 on a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery from two yards out and a two-point conversion to Braylon Edwards.

Brady killed the next drive with a lousy pass. On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing second and three at the Patriot 38, Brady stepped back and lobbed a water balloon off his back foot to Moss on the right side. The underthrown ball was tipped by Cromartie and into the hands of Brodney Pool, who barely stayed in bounds and got the pick on a replay overturn. Again, Brady made the wrong decision by going to Moss with no Revis instead of attacking the middle with receivers who were really getting open.

The next drive died when Brady again misfired on a long pass to Moss, and the Jets responded with their final score of the day, with Keller hauling in a one-yard touchdown pass to complete the scoring.

In the first half, the Jets had no answer for Hernandez. He had 101 yards receiving on six catches, including a nifty 46-yard pass just before Moss' one-handed gem which gave the Patriots the 14-7 lead. Hernandez showed some great run after catch skills on the play, weaving his way through the Jet secondary before being hauled down at the Jet 34.

Welker also had six catches, but was blasted by a cheap shot late hit by Eric Smith towards the end of the first quarter. This came after his touchdown catch in the first quarter which put the Patriots up 7-0, a six-yard pass from Brady. He was never effective again, as he came out of the game temporarily dazed but did return. Brady never went to Welker for tough catches for the rest of the game.

Instead, Brady went to the slouch. He threw to Moss ten times, but Moss made only two catches, one for the touchdown. Revis may have missed the second half, but in light of Moss' "I feel unappreciated" comments this week, Revis' absence perhaps didn't matter. Moss turned out to be less effective than if Revis were in there smothering him like last year. The only reason Moss makes the TD catch was because Revis couldn't stay with him.

Because of all this offensive adversity, the defense could not be bailed out. Keller, the tight end who singlehandedly scuttled the Patriots' season in 2008 with his overtime catch which led to the loss to the Jets which in the end cost them a playoff berth, killed the Patriots again with a career high 115 yards on seven catches. Edwards had his way with Darius Butler and hauled in five catches for 45 yards. Butler was the dipolar opposite from last week against Cincinnati, being torched all game long while the Jets stayed away from Devin McCourty. Sanchez killed Brady in the rating category, outpointing him 124.3 to 72.5.

So the Jets now know they can move the ball against the Patriots. But the Patriots did the same also, until they went away from what worked. Moss might be a better decoy than receiver as long as he stays disgruntled, while Welker and the tight ends might be able to make up for the complete lack of a consistent running attack. This will be a season where the offense will have to bail out the defense on occasion. Last week, the Bengal offense did it for them.

Meanwhile, Rex Ryan once again looks smarter than he acts. In the game of psychological warfare, he's perhaps the best in the league right now.


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