First off, I want to give major props to the Jets. Going into this game, I thought that as long as NE played an average or better game they would beat the Jets. Well, they stepped up their play in a big way yesterday, and it took nearly all of the B+ game that NE played to finally put them away. I was most impressed with the resiliency that NY displayed. NE was killing
them on both lines for almost the entire first half, but NY regrouped and actually fought to a draw for the first 20 minutes of the second half. I would actually say that their OL won the battle during that time. That was by far the best that I have seen the Jets play all season, and I watched quite a few of their games, including the second NE game and the demolition of the Packers. For the entire season I have thought that NY was a prime candidate to make a major step back (think 6-10), but I am reconsidering that now.
Anyway, here are my thoughts:
* He didn't do much, but Troy Brown's two third down catches, on 3rd and 12 (?) and 3rd and 8 were huge. Even now, Brown keeps making 2-3 under-the-radar key plays that change the complexion of games.
* On the Jets' second rushing play, NE stopped Washington for no gain. By that time, NE had already held NY to 1 yard or less on rushing plays twice as many times as they did in the entire second game.
And by that time Jet fans realized that any data retrieved from analyzing the last matchup was completely meaningless.
* As I said before, NE won the battle of the trenches on nearly every play of the first half. Most games that one team beats the other so soundly on the lines would be 17 or 21-3 going into the half and just about a formality. Credit the Jets for much of why they were still in the game. They made the absolute most of the two plays that they clearly won, getting a TO on one and a 77 yard TD on another. Neither play was flukey in any way.
* I went outside to play with my kids at halftime and my neighbor came up to me ranting about how terrible NE was playing. My jaw hit the turf and I told him that if NE kept outplaying the Jets as soundly at the LOS as they had NE would win 31-16. Oddly enough, the Jets stepped up their play tremendously...........
And NE won by an even larger margin. The game is funny sometimes.
* I credit the Jets for much of why they stayed in the game for so long, but NE deserves some criticism too. Gafney, while he had a great game, made a huge mistake giving up a first down when everyone watching knew that NY couldn't stop NE. I know that had he not done that, that NE would have gone up 14-0 and the route would have been on. Another stupid move was the body slam Wilfork gave Washington. That gave the Jets the field position they needed to get off an unreturnable, inside the 20 punt that led to NE's predictable run and subsequent fumble.
* I didn't see anyone but the NFLN go into why Faulk was so wide open on his TD; everyone just called it blown coverage. It actually wasn't, it was great play design. NE had their hot read go out wide just outside two WRs. The WRs essentially formed a double pick (without it being an illegal pick because they were running routes) on the LB in coverage. He never had a chance. Had the Jets instead covered Faulk with one of the CBs, the LB would have been on a WR - another mismatch.
* I loved how NE just ran the exact same Faulk run three straight times, same formation and everything. It always feels sweet when your team can just line up and push the other guys back like that.
* I think NE's tendencies stopped them from getting a TD after the Wilfork rumble. On the 3rd down pass that Barret almost intercepted, not one defender was in the middle of the EZ. Even Barret himself was totally out of position had Gafney simple broken inside rather than out. Smart defenses are going to take away what you do most.
* Gostkowski had a very good day, but when his first kick left the tee I little said aloud to no one in particular, "that's a return to the 40." Every other kick, however was on the money.
* It is probably another case of tendencies, but I have not seen Jackson open on a fly route since the Chicago game. I hope that he has a couple other routes down that they just didn't think they needed because even the worst CB in the league can cover a guy if he runs the same route every game.
* One down note that worries me for this coming game. I thought that the LB's coverage (particularly Vrabel) was pretty poor. Baker seemed to be able to get open whenever he wanted to, which is not a good sign when they face Gates next week. What gives me hope is the fact that both starting WRs on NY are better than anything SD puts out there. I'm sure that NE will have different coverage packages for Gates than they did for Baker.
* Jets fans may have been lamenting the lack of any real trickery, but they shouldn't. It seemed pretty clear to me that they did try a few times to do things but NE snuffed it out well. One play in particular was an obvious double pass to the combo QB-WR-RB guy that was so well defensed that Pennington just tossed the ball out of bounds. Can anyone tell me why that wasn't grounding? Penny was clearly still in the pocket and NE WR was anywhere near the area.
* BB's tackle of the photographer was funny. Eisen on NFLN actually did a "breakdown" of that "play" that was quite humorous.
Other NFL thoughts include:
* Romo is getting all the blame, but IMO Terry Glenn did more to lose that game than anyone. When you are on your two yard line and you trip on a pass play that is dependent on you being able to juke the first tackler, cover up the damn ball! Also, what was he doing on the hail mary? I can understand why he was behind the play; that way he could sneak up behind the defense without anyone boxing him out. But anyone who has even played catch a few times can tell when they are 5 yards off of the trajectory of the ball. Had Glenn simply walked behind the D as the ball was in the air, it would have landed right in his arms. Instead he sat there 5 yards off the the left and 4 yards back of where the ball landed and never moved. If a Patriot player ever did that they wouldn't be back next season.
* Was that the most embarrasing offensive performance in the history of the game by KC? And note to Herm Edwards, who was *clearly* trying to deflect blame when he made his "that's the same offense we have run all year" comments..... we know that you idiot! That is why you lost! Even a recently lobotomized person knew that Indy would put at least 8 men in the box on nearly every play of the game. Where were the play action passes? Basically every series of downs was LJ on 1st and 2nd and Green on 3rd. (Note: I just checked
and 4 of the first 6 drives were exactly this. And on the others no PAPs were used.) Frankly, when the Chiefs did not use a PAP on the first play of the game, a historically opportune time to use a PAP - literally, I knew that they were no match.
On to San Diego.
* Gates worries me. LT worries me, he has just killed NE recently - although the team he faced last year and the one he saw in 2002 are nothing like the one that is coming to town. I am not sold on the SD defense, though. Oh sure, their LBs are sound and the DT is one of the best in the game. But if NE can stop the pass rush, I don't see how SD holds NE to under 24 points. And, other than Denver last year, history has shown NE to be a very good pass blocking team in the playoffs.
* I see many people refering to the 2001 SB as the blueprint of how to stop the Chargers. I couldn't disagree more. NE played in a dime defense almost the entire game, basically conceeding the run but knowing that StL wouldn't have the patience to rush all game. If the Pats play the exact same way, they will get killed. Not only that, but the receiving threats on StL were little quick guys rather than a physical beast like Gates. The only similarity that I see is how NE keyed on Faulk, hitting him every time he went into the flat. Other than that, though, I don't get the comparison.
I think that is it.