November 22, 2009
Patriots Exact Some Revenge From Week 2
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
FOXBOROUGH -- Rex Ryan wept, Darrelle Revis boasted, and by game's end both men were probably doing the same thing.
Ryan could only look on and bawl his head off after his rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, continued his downslide from the early season with four interceptions on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Revis, on the other hand, one again held Randy Moss under 40 receiving yards and did basically a good job in containing the Patriot receiving star. Revis may not care that Moss did get him for a touchdown, which helped the Patriots grind out a 31-14 win over the New York Jets and maintain a two-game lead in the AFC East.
The Patriots made mince meat of the Jets for most of the first half, and only a blocked punt returned for a touchdown just before halftime gave the Jets any semblance of momentum. But Sanchez, who looked the dipolar opposite of what he did in September, was flustered by the Patriot defense most all game long, and the Patriots did just the right amount of scouting in preventing another embarrassment like they suffered during Week 2 at Exit 16-W.
On their second offensive possession of the first quarter, Sanchez took the Jets to their 46-yard line, then tried to convert a third-and-8. He rolled left and fired a hurried throw towards Jerricho Cotchery, but Leigh Bodden stepped in front of Cotchery and made the interception in the flat, the spot where most of those picks go back the distance. 53 yards later, the Patriots led, 7-0.
In the second quarter, once again facing third-and-8 and almost in the same place as the first pick (this one was three yards back at the 43), Brandon McGowan came in on a safety blitz and hurried Sanchez again. He had Braylon Edwards at the left sideline but underthrew him, and Bodden intercepted at the Patriot 48.
Sanchez threw two picks in the fourth quarter. At his own 48 on the first Jet offensive play of the quarter, he threw deep left to Cotchery but overthrew him, and Bodden made a diving catch at the Patriot 26. On the next possession, facing second-and-10 at the Jet 8, Sanchez rolled left, ran out of playing field and threw an ill-advised ball down the sideline and right into the arms of Brandon Meriweather.
Sanchez's gaffes cost the Jets a chance to stay in the game and possibly win it. Tom Brady and Wes Welker bedeviled the Jet defense all game long, but most of their hay was made in the first half. It was 24-0 Patriots at one point in the game before the Jets were able to mount a lukewarm comeback, after which the Patriots merely treaded water and hung on to win rather easily.
After the Bodden touchdown, the Patriots came right back and scored on a 76-yard drive, with Moss beating Revis for a four-yard touchdown pass on an untimed play at the end of the first quarter. It looked like Revis wasn't ready for the snap, and Moss shot inside on him and made the bang-bang grab for the score. It was the only play where Moss beat Revis; to his credit, Revis once again did a nice job in staying with Moss and holding him to only 34 yards and five catches.
The next drive saw Brady hit Welker on a deep route for 42 yards. Revis was burned on this play, as he let Welker go in zone coverage but Eric Smith was very late in getting over into coverage. Perched at the Jet 3, the Patriots scored two plays later on a left tackle run by Maroney, running right behind Logan Mankins and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Patriots led at this point, 21-0, and the Jets looked almost as downtrodden as Tennessee did here on a snowy afternoon a few weeks back.
After Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it 24-0, the Jets finally made a significant play at the end of the half. Facing fourth down and 13 at their own 18 (and choosing not to go for it), Chris Hanson lined up in punt formation. But the Jets overloaded the right side of their line, and Eric Smith was able to break through and block Hanson's punt. Backup quarterback Brad Smith picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the touchdown to make it 24-7. Curiously, Gostkowski pushed a 40-yard field goal attempt wide right with 15 seconds left in the half, and things seemed a little eerie at Gillette Stadium.
Things got eerier as the second half began. Sanchez looked like his September self for a little bit, leading the Jets on an 80-yard drive, with Cotchery beating Jonathan Willhite on a right sideline pass for 29 yards and a touchdown. It was 24-14 now, and the blocked punt looked like a turning point in the game.
But the Jets would get no closer. Two more interceptions and another Maroney touchdown made this game a non-issue for the Patriots.
Welker, who did not play in the September meeting between these two teams, established career highs with 15 catches and 192 yards. The 15 catches by Welker were one shy of Troy Brown's single game record of 16 as a Patriot. Brady, meanwhile, hit for 300 yards (310 yards passing) for the sixth game in a row. With Welker back in the mix and his knee feeling much better, Brady and Welker were able to riddle the Jet secondary with ease. Revis can say what he wants about his ability to guard Moss, but guarding Welker is another issue for the Jets, and on Sunday, they failed miserably.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriot game plan seemed obvious. They blitzed the dickens out of Sanchez, with winning results. Forcing Sanchez out of the pocket and into making quick decisions and hurried throws, Sanchez finished with 8 of 21 passing for 36 yards and four interceptions. Sanchez's passer rating was 37.1. The game degenerated into one rookie mistake after another, and Sanchez looks like a quarterback the league has already figured out completely.
Maroney, who scored two touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards on 22 carries, had another fumble lost for the second straight week. The second Patriot offensive possession ended when Maroney ran to the Jet 36-yard-line, only to be stripped of the ball by Marques Douglas. Bryan Thomas made the recovery, but the ensuing Jet drive ended with the Bodden pick-six.
The Patriots must now get ready for their second undefeated team in three weeks, as the Patriots will head to the scene of the watershed victory in franchise history, the Superdome in New Orleans. They will get another high-octane passer in Drew Brees, and the defense will get a chance to show that they deserve to try and win the game if given the chance to do it.
No rookie mistakes next Monday night, for sure.
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