September 12, 2002
Jets Present New England With A New Set of Problems
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
FOXBORO, MA -- Monday night's win over the Steelers now means nothing.
At least that's the way Bill Belichick has his team thinking heading into Sunday's game against the New York Jets.
New York presents the Patriots with all new problems, including a special teams unit that combined for two touchdown returns by Chad Morton, one of which game in overtime to lift them over the Buffalo Bills last weekend. They are also facing the ageless Vinny Testaverde who was 24-of-30 for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets 37-31 overtime win.
Testaverde is certainly a bigger threat than Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart who threw 3 interceptions against the Patriots defense Monday night, and if you ask New England head coach Bill Belichick he'll tell you Testaverde has virtually no flaws that he can see.
"I would say Vinny [Testaverde] probably has no weaknesses as a quarterback," Belichick told the media on Thursday. "He understands what you need to do to win. [His stats aren't] what's important to him."
"You can't sit there and say, 'well he can't do this or he can't do that.' He can throw every route, he can throw every type of pass he wants. I don't think he has any real weaknesses as a quarterback."
Testaverde also has a pretty good group of receivers to throw to. Eight different Jets receivers caught a pass last Sunday, five of which had at least three receptions. He finished the day with a quarterback rating of 118, and though he lost Curtis Martin with an ankle injury he never showed any signs of being rattled.
Then again, neither did Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who also had a solid performance in his team's opening game. Brady finished the night 29-of-43 for 294 yards passing, throwing three touchdowns to three different receivers. He directed an offense that at one point threw 25-straight passes and eventually wore out the Steelers defense.
However they're facing a different team this week. It's a team who including the preseason has yet to lose a game, and they'll be facing them at the Meadowlands where the Jets usually play them tough.
"This is a long season, it's a marathon as we always say, and it's our first road game," Brady told reporters on Wednesday. "I think they probably feel like they had us last year down at their place, [and] they're going to put together as good a performance."
"They haven't lost a game yet, so it's going to be tough game."
It was certainly tough the last time these two teams met. The Patriots went into the locker room down 13-0 at the half, and were held to just three first downs in the first half.
The Jets meanwhile had jumped on New England early, scoring a touchdown on a 34-yard touchdown pass to wideout Lavernaues Coles, followed by a flea flicker to Coles for 24-yards which set up a field goal to start the game.
Needless to say offensive coordinator Charlie Weis apparently wasn't too happy, and let Brady and the rest of the offense hear about it during halftime.
"They put it to us that first half," said Brady. "I think they were far more physical than us."
"Charlie [Weis] came in and gave us a half-time speech that challenged us, I think there were more swear words coming out of his mouth that day than I've ever heard, but he got us going and we played a great second half."
The Patriots were able to come out in the second half and eventually came back to win 17-16. They'll now prepare for them with a short week, with the team having to spend Saturday traveling instead of having an extra day of preparation.
The key this time will be gaining the momentum from the start of the game, and they'll need to keep from making mistakes, something they weren't able to do the last time. With another division being added during the offseason divisional games now become more important, and it's a game that could end up having a significant impact on the outcome of their season.
"The Jets are a tough team to prepare for," said Belichick. "They do a lot of things well. They really give you a lot of things to defend, a good running game, a good passing game, a lot of different formations and all of that."
"We're on the road in the division. It's a short week, so we've got a lot of work to do."
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.