December 07, 2010
Big Showdown Turns Into Big Jet Massacre
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
FOXBOROUGH -- "Run it up, Herm! Leave no doubt!"
The final Patriot touchdown, a one-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 9:20 left in the game which put the Patriots up 45-3, seemed to smack of the movie Remember The Titans. In the penultimate playoff game, which was supposed to be fixed for Williams High School to lose so that Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) would be fired, Bill Yoast (Will Patton) orders the referees to call the game fair or else, then orders Boone to run up the score to hammer home who was the better team. Williams wins the game, 44-13, Yoast is turned down for the Hall of Fame for calling out the referees, and Williams goes on to win the state title the next week.
So here are the Patriots, having to put up with a week and a half of Rex Ryan and his usual shenanigans with the press (you can judge for yourself as to how unbelievable it is that Ryan is married at all), and all that was riding on Monday night's tilt with the Jets at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots wind up completely blowing the Jets off the field, and they finished it with that Green-Ellis touchdown to complete the 45-3 win.
Run it up, Bill. Leave no doubt.
Shut Ryan up. Put Mark Sanchez in his place. Make LaDainian Tomlinson suffer once again at the hands of a team he hates worse than Curtis Martin ever did. Make sure that the Jets never forget the night they played the Patriots.
Make that the division-leading Patriots. The conference-leading Patriots. The Patriots who now control their own destiny to the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots who earned both of those distinctions by brutalizing their division rival on a national television stage. The Patriots, who honored their Perfect Player at halftime, then went out and made him proud to be a former Patriot with a Perfect Performance.
You name it, the Patriots excelled at it and the Jets flopped. Bill Belichick was the better coach. Tom Brady was the better quarterback. Aaron Hernandez was the better tight end. Wes Welker was the better wideout. Devin McCourty was the better cornerback. Heck, even Shayne Graham was the better kicker. And so on down the roster. Rarely do you get a game with such domination by one team. In the one game the Patriots needed to bring their "A" game, they brought their "AAA" game and completely pulverized the jets in a game in which they needed to win as badly as any game they have played in the last three or so years.
Brady is in a zone right now, a zone which could take the Patriots a long way into January. He finished 21 of 29 passing for 326 yards, four touchdowns and a 148.9 passer rating. Compare that with Sanchez, who was 17 of 33 for 164 yards passing, three picks and a rating of 27.8. Sanchez never got into a rhythm, never hurt the Patriots with anything deep, and was not allowed to bludgeon the Patriots with his top wideouts, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. Dustin Keller was also held in check, with only 3 catches for 27 yards.
Brady, on the other hand, was invincible and at times unstoppable. In baseball parlance, at times he was simply filthy. He was at his most invincible in the fourth quarter, where he parlayed two interceptions into two gripping touchdown drives for 187 combined yards. Both were for eight plays, for 93 and 94 yards respectively. Welker caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to end the first of them, and Aaron Hernandez caught a one-yard touchdown pass on a filthy play-fake to Green-Ellis. The score was Patriots 38, Jets 3 at the time, and the Jets were as beaten a team as could be.
So just for good measure, James Sanders snatches Sanchez's third interception, the Patriots take over at the Jet 28, and the Patriots give the ball to Green-Ellis six times. He covers all the 28 yards with five runs and one reception for the Leave No Doubt final touchdown. The Jets may cry "running up the score" with this, but the Patriots instead sent a message to the beaten Jets. This was a measure of killing the beast that championship teams have to do to their sworn enemy and division rival, and this killer instinct will take them a long way in the playoffs.
Another telling moment in this game was just after the Patriots finished off the first of the aforementioned 90-yard drives. Belichick could be seen screaming at his team, mostly his defense, coaching as if the score were still 0-0. At the time, the Patriots were up 31-3. It was clear that Belichick was driven by the importance of this game, but also driven by the importance of putting his former team in place. All the Patriots had to do was merely win the game, but by blasting the Jets the way they did, the rest of the league has to stand up and take notice, and the Jets have to be reeling by how badly they were beaten.
Ryan dug his team a deep hole early, with a lost challenge on a third down early in the first quarter. He would go on to make the first down on fourth and one, but the lost challenge set the tone for the entire game and would come back to haunt Ryan later on. A 4-yard scoring toss to Brandon Tate in the third quarter might have been overturned on a challenge as Tate landed out of bounds with his shoulder. But Ryan had to hold off on challenging, and the Patriots were allowed to keep a 24-3 lead at the time.
The Jets were hurting defensively, as Jim Leonhard was lost for the season going into the game. It helped Brady greatly as he was able to go through his rotations with relative ease, even though the Jets did manage to sack Brady three times. But most of the evening, Brady had lots of time to throw, and he never made a bad throw all night long.
The Patriots have to be careful and protect this now precious one-game lead in the division. They go to Chicago next week for a tough interconference battle against the NFC North leaders. The Jets will have to play Chicago down the road as well. If the Patriots show a letdown in this short week, they could be in trouble. Their remaining three games will be against Miami, Buffalo and Green Bay, with Buffalo the one remaining road game.
If the Patriots win out, they will ensure that the road to Super Bowl XLVI will go through Foxborough. If they prepare for Chicago and attack them the way they did the Jets, they should be able to handle the anemic Bears offense and stout defense. But they have to assume that the Jets also will run the table and keep the same intensity they had Monday night.
So the Patriots did what they had to do against the Jets, and then some. They left no doubt who the team to beat is right now.
Now the tricky part is to keep leaving no doubt.
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