November 14, 2008
Patriots Waste A Great Performance By Cassel
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
FOXBORO, MA -- Patriots fans have been waiting for this type of game from Matt Cassel for a long time.
The only thing they weren't looking for was this outcome.
New England quarterback Matt Cassel helped his team overcome a 24-6 deficit against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium, but it wasn't enough after the Patriots lost 34-31 in front of a disappointed home crowd Thursday night. Cassel had a career night, finishing 30-of-51 for 400 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-tying touchdown to wide receiver Randy Moss with :01 left in regulation that knotted the score 31-31 and sent the game into overtime. However, it ended up being a wasted effort after the Jets won the coin toss in overtime and drove down the field for an eventual 34-yard game-winning field goal.
Cassel did nearly everything right Thursday night, but it was the Patriots defense which didn't do quite enough, allowing the Jets to march from their own 20-yard line all the way to the New England 16, which lead to Jay Feely kicking the game winner.
"We made a lot of plays, but in the end they just made a couple more than we did," said Belichick after the game. "Give them credit. We were close, but just not quite good enough tonight."
It all started on New York's opening drive after the Jets drove 62-yards on 10 plays and scored a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. New England quarterback Matt Cassel tried to answer, taking the Patriots 44-yards on 10 plays which set up a 42-yard field goal for Stephen Gostkowski and cutting the lead to 7-3.
However, the Jets came right back and marched 60-yards on 10 plays, which finished with Feely kicking a 22-yard field goal to put the Jets up 10-3.
Cassel then put together a 12 play 59-yard drive that ended in another field goal by Gostkowski and suddenly the Patriots found themselves within striking distance trailing just 10-6 with 9:44 left in the half.
Unfortunately the Jets ran the ensuing kickoff back 92-yards for a touchdown, putting New York up 17-6.
"That was a big play," said Belichick after the game. "We didn't play it very well."
The Patriots couldn't answer on the ensuing drive, and the Jets ended up finding themselves in the red zone after Jerricho Cotchery made an amazing 46 yard catch against Ellis Hobbs. Two plays later Brett Favre found Cotchery from 15-yards out and just like that it was 24-6.
Two possessions later for New England Cassel found himself with the football at their own 32-yard line with 1:44 left in the half. At that point the Patriots went to the no huddle and marched 68 yards on 10 plays, with Cassel finding Jabar Gaffney from 19-yards out for a touchdown which sent them into the locker room at the half trailing 24-13.
Both teams struggled to start the second half, with the Patriots & Jets each failing to get anything going on three straight possessions. But with 2:25 left in the third quarter Cassel engineered a 7 play 78-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard touchdown throw to Ben Watson, which cut the lead to 3 at 24-21 after they converted the two-point conversion.
On their ensuing drive, Cassel again took them from their own 40-down to the Jets 29 where Gostkowski kicked another field goal which knotted the score at 24-24 with 10:16 left in the game.
But Favre then engineered a drive that lasted over 7-minutes and finished with running back Thomas Jones taking it in for the touchdown to put New York up 31-24. Suddenly with 3:10 left in the game it appeared that the Jets were going to steal this one.
However, after the two teams traded punts, Cassel had one last chance to shine. With 1:04 left in the contest he went to the no-huddle offense which was executed beautifully. Facing a fourth down with just :08 left, Cassel found himself under pressure, and he rolled out to his right, hitting Randy Moss from 16-yards out to tie the score at 31-31 and send the game into overtime.
The Jets won the toss and had the football to start the overtime period. From there the Patriots defense started out strong, sacking Favre on the first play in overtime and then forced an incompletion, setting up a 3rd & 15 from their own 15 yard line. Unfortunately the Jets completed a critical 16-yard play and from there they couldn't be stopped. They marched methodically down to the field all the way down to the New England 16-yard line which set up the eventual winning field goal.
For the Patriots they'll likely realize they squandered a huge performance by Cassel who came up big and became the first quarterback to throw for over 300 yards (400yds) and rush for over 50 (62-rushing) since 1978. His game tying drive was one that fans won't soon forget, and gives them plenty of hope heading into the rest of the season. They were close, but not quite close enough.
"We dug ourselves a hole," said Belichick. "We made some plays to get back in it. We missed some good opportunities in the third quarter to really close the gap, but that's the way it goes."
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