By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots unfortunately had their season end on Sunday with a 28-21 loss to the Jets. It was a painful loss at home for the Patriots against a bitter rival.
The Patriots actually came out strong in their first offensive drive of the game. However, Tom Brady’s early interception on that drive set a bad tone that was felt throughout the game. The Jets settled into the game, and eventually took it over. The Patriots were the team that made the key mistakes, and it ultimately cost them the football game. It was almost as if the teams switched places for one game. The Jets were the disciplined team, and the Patriots were playing desperate at times. It was very uncharacteristic to see, and now we’re forced to endure a long offseason until they get another shot at redemption.
So what did we learn from watching the game on Sunday?
The first thing we learned is that the Patriots defense wasn’t the issue on Sunday, it was the offense thanks to a solid game plan by New York. Brady had a hard time finding receivers in the middle of the field where he feasted in the last game. The Jets were forcing Brady to look for options on the outside. The Jets made an adjustment going into this match-up, and unfortunately the Patriots could not counter.
The second thing we learned is that the defense is getting closer to being a solid unit. The Patriots defense actually kept the team in the game. The Jets only had 14 points going into the fourth quarter. That type of effort should have led to a victory. This unit battled and did not quit the entire game. I expect a major jump in the defense next season. It is only going to get better.
The third thing we learned is that you cannot afford to make the mistakes the Patriots made in the playoffs and expect to win. Brady threw an interception that was more costly than you might think. The Jets couldn’t convert on the turnover, but the Patriots could have really set the tone for the game and gotten up early on the Jets. Also, the fake punt should have never happened even if the match-up was there for the Patriots. The risk was too high, and the Patriots paid dearly for it.
The most important thing we learned is the Patriots future is very bright. The Patriots are very young on defense, and have some serious picks in the upcoming draft. This game represents a step in the process to being a dominant team for several years to come. The Patriots are not quite there yet, but many of the pieces are in place to have a “second chapter” to the Patriots dynasty. I truly believe that.
As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Jets.”
1. The Patriots need to stop the run. The Jets were effective running the ball against the Pats. They ran for a total of 120 yards with a 4.1 yards per carry average. The Pats did not do their job in this key.
2. The Patriots need to get off the field on third down defense. The Patriots did not do a great job on getting off the field on third down. The Jets were 6-13 on third down conversions which looks good on paper, but there were some key plays that extended drives and New York was able to capitalize. For the Patriots to have a great defense in the future they will need to improve tremendously in this area.
3. Tom Brady needs to expose a weakness of the Jets defense which is covering the tight ends. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were not the match-up nightmares that I had hoped for. Gronkowski had 4 catches and Hernandez only had 1 catch. Hernandez is the biggest surprise because he’d been used in the past in tight end screens and quick passes to allow him to make a play. We never really saw that on Sunday.
4. In the redzone the Patriots need to score touchdowns.The Patriots were not in the red-zone often, but in their first time in the area they were forced to settle for a field goal. This situation might not sound like it had an impact, but it really hurt the Patriots early in the game. Forcing the Jets to play from behind over the course of the game likely would have made a big difference in the outcome, especially with New England playing at home.
5. Shayne Graham needs to be solid in his kick-offs and converting field goals. Graham did not do a great job in kick-offs and the Jets often started drives with good field position. However, he was effective in kicking two field goals and ended up being a solid replacement for Stephen Gostkowski, who whopefully will be back healthy next season.
So what did we learn from this game? In the end the Jets were just better on Sunday. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the other team.
However, in the big picture the season was a success and that shouldn’t be overlooked by a loss in the playoffs. The Patriots are pointing back to the top, and I expect in the next several seasons many more Patriots victories in the playoffs than losses. The Tom Brady era is far from over. With all their draft picks and a chance to bring in a couple of free agents, it actually might be entering its second chapter.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of New England’s 28-21 playoff loss to the Jets.