By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots (6-3) entered MetLife Stadium on a two game losing streak to play the Jets (5-4) Sunday night. New England left New Jersey with a convincing 37-16 victory, and gained serious control over the AFC East.
What I found fascinating watching this game Sunday night was that I have seen this movie before many times. There were many people including myself that had serious doubts that the Patriots could win this game on the road. Well, I couldn’t be happier that the Patriots proved me wrong.
The Patriots are at their best when they feel they have something to prove. This was an old school victory for the team, that could gain a considerable amount of confidence from this game.
We have now seen a few victories this season by the team that brings you back to the Dynasty years. The Patriots have their issues, but they showed last night that they still have the character that built those Championship teams.
So what did we learn from watching the game on Sunday?
The first thing we learned is that having a quarterback that can win you a Superbowl is huge in the NFL. Tom Brady still has the quality and determination to win games in tough situations. However, Mark Sanchez – who does have the physical ability – needs to to raise his game to the next level if the Jets do want that Super Bowl ring someday.
If you don’t have a quarterback that can take you all the way, it is an uphill struggle to win a title. The Patriots still have a quarterback that can take you all the way to the promised land, while there are doubts that the Jets have the answer at that position.
The second thing we learned is that putting pressure on the quarterback can help disguise the issues in the secondary. When Patrick Chung could not go Sunday night because of injury, I was extremely concerned about the safety play in this game. My concerns about the secondary grew larger when starting cornerback Devin McCourty went out with an injury during the first half.
Well, there were issues in the secondary in this game, but there is no question that they played as well as could be expected. When you have players like Antwaun Molden, Phillip Adams, Ross Ventrone, and Sterling Moore playing significant roles in the game, and you only give up 16 points you are doing something right.
The pressure that the defensive front four of the Patriots put on was impressive. Defensive end Andre Carter was in the face of Sanchez most of the game. He ended with 4.5 sacks, but his play was much more than that one statistic. Mark Anderson did a nice job at the other defensive end position as he as well got pressure on Sanchez. The pass rush definitely masked the issues in the secondary.
The third thing we learned is that the “hurry up” offense when used in certain situations can really make a difference in a game. The Patriots took over in the second half on offense, and that style of play certainly helped their situation. It forced the Jets to be in a defense where they could not substitute.
This created match-up advantages for Brady to exploit, and he was very successful at it. This style also tired out the Jets defense. Overall the “hurry up” was a weapon when it was used in the right situations of this game. Against the Jets, it worked like a charm.
On defense, overall this was an impressive performance considering the issues with injuries leading up to the game. As stated earlier, the defensive line really stepped up big against a real good offensive line.
The underrated unit in this game had to be the linebackers. Jerod Mayo is probably not 100 percent yet, but his presence certainly sets the tone for the defense. The real star of this unit in this match-up was Rob Ninkovich who had 5 tackles and 2 interceptions. Ninkovich is a steady player, and certainly had a great game against the Jets.
On offense, The Patriots were kept in control for the most part in the first half, but made plays when they had to. The second half is when this unit became dominant once again. Rob Gronkowski was huge as Brady went to him time after time. He ended with 8 receptions for 113 yards, and two touchdowns.
Brady showed once again why he is such a difference in a game. He carved up the Jets in the second half, and just took advantage of the match-ups he would see. Brady threw for 3 touchdowns, and was 26-of-39 with 329 yards. This was a really good performance by the Patriots quarterback.
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 and below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Jets.”
1. The Patriots offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady. The offensive line did their job against the Jets. They did not give up a sack, and Brady it seemed felt pretty comfortable in the pocket.
2. The Patriots need to establish the run against the Jets. The Patriots running game was pretty much a non-factor until the end of the game when Danny Woodhead got some nice yardage. The lack of a running game did not hurt them against the Jets, but they will need to do better in this part of the game moving forward.
3. The Patriots need to get their outside receivers involved in the game. Surprisingly Chad Ochocinco caught a few passes early, and did make a difference. He had 2 receptions for 65 yards, but I thought his presence outside helped the offense.
Also, Deion Branch had a nice game as he had 5 receptions for 58 yards, and 1 touchdown. This was a positive sign for the Patriots passing game.
4.The Patriots defense needs to stop the Jets “ground and pound” running game. The Patriots did not do a real good job at stopping the run. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combined for 99 yards. Since the Jets played from behind in the second half, they didn’t have the opportunity to run more. The loss of Brandon Spikes hurt the run defense, and they will have to be better against the run moving forward.
5. The Patriots need to contain Dustin Keller. The Patriots did a nice job on Keller as he only had 2 receptions for 37 yards. I think this key had more of an impact on the game than most might think. The Patriots did take away some of the short passing game that the Jets like to use. I think not having those quick reads readily available hurt Sanchez in this game.
So what did we learn from this game? I think we learned that the Patriots have some serious character and resolve. Facing a tough opponent on the road, and beating them soundly could have strong positive effects the rest of the season.
So, just when you think that the “Patriots Way” was in decline, they remind you that it is alive and kicking. I wouldn’t underestimate this team again this season.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the Patriots 37-16 victory against the Jets.