November 23, 2012
Patriots Give Thanks For Jet Mistakes
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Twelve Thanksgivings ago, Tom Brady completed the first NFL pass of his career, to Rod Rutledge in the old Pontiac Silverdome during garbage time in a Lion blowout win over the Patriots.
Twelve Thanksgivings later, Patriot fans give thanks every day for the late Dick Rehbein giving the recommendation to draft Brady, for Mo Lewis to force Brady to take over, and for Bill Belichick to have the wherewithal to allow Brady to keep his starting job when Drew Bledsoe was healthy to return to his starting job.
Brady is at an insane level right now. His team has put up 108 points in two consecutive games, third best in NFL history over two games. He threw three touchdown passes and had a passer rating of 139.4. He has no Rob Gronkowski, an injured Julian Edelman, and a recuperating Aaron Hernandez, and Brady is still the unchallenged best quarterback on the planet.
Yet Brady wasn't even close to being the star of the game. The Patriots clobbered the Jets, 49-19 on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium, and it was hardly about Brady.
It was more about Vince Wilfork, who made one of the more incredible defensive plays in recent memory. It was more about Steve Gregory, who had two fumble recoveries and an interception. It was more about Edelman, who had a fumble recovery return for a touchdown. It was more about the Patriot secondary, especially Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib, who solidified the corners and did not allow what remains of the Jet receiver corps to dominate the game.
The game started slowly, with the Patriots opening the game with an intentional grounding call on their first offensive play on Brady, and the next drive ended with a missed 39-yard field goal by the suddenly unreliable Stephen Gostkowski. The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, and it looked like the Patriots would turn in their usual NBC C-game performance.
But things changed late in the first quarter. Perched at the Patriot 24, second and six, Mark Sanchez tried to hit Bilal Powell in the right flat. He overthrew Powell and Gregory picked him off. The Patriots then marched on a 16-play, 84-yard touchdown drive which culminated in a three-yard scoring pass from Brady to Wes Welker, who slipped away from Ellis Lankster and was wide open in the right corner of the end zone.
The next drive ended on a fourth down attempt by the Jets at the Patriot 31. Greene got the handoff on fourth and one, but the ball popped out on impact and shot back 14 yards before Gregory covered the loose ball. On the first play from the Patriot 17, Brady hit Shane Vereen on a simple dump pass in the left flat. Inexplicably, a block by Welker on Bart Scott sprang Vereen for an 83-yard touchdown as Yeremiah Bell took a bad angle in pursuing Vereen. Suddenly it was 14-0 Patriots, and they would even more suddenly get a whole lot more.
On the second play of the ensuing Jet drive, Sanchez took the ball at his own 30 and took off on a scramble. Wilfork picked up offensive lineman Brandon Moore and literally threw him into Sanchez. Sanchez put the ball on the ground, Gregory picked it up and ran it in 32 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Devin McCourty clobbered Joe McKnight at the 22, and the ball popped in the air and into the arms of Edelman. He ran it in from 22 yards out and it was 28-0 Patriots. The Patriots had just scored three touchdowns in 51 seconds, all off Jet turnovers.
The Jets did not turn the ball over on the next drive, but Brady took only four plays to make it 35-0. On third and five from the Patriot 44, Brady faked to Stevan Ridley and lobbed a floater to Edelman, who slipped past a beleaguered Landry and hauled in the pass and took it 56 yards for a touchdown. It was 35-3 Patriots at the half, but the Jets were simply embarrassing themselves to death, much more than what Brady was doing to them.
The Jets did make it interesting in the third quarter with a curious 12-0 run which was precipitated by a lost fumble and included a penalty which resulted in a safety.
On their first offensive possession of the third quarter, the Patriots drove to the Jet 46. Brady then called for an end around to Edelman off a play fake. Edelman ran around the right side before he was clobbered by Landry. The ball popped out and was recovered by Eric Smith. Edelman was dazed after the hit and left the game for good.
The Jets drove all the way to the Patriot 1, then Brandon Spikes stopped Greene on fourth and goal. The Patriots took over at the one, but on the first play Ridley was called for a chop block in the end zone. By rule, any penalty whose spot of enforcement is behind a team's own goal line is a safety, so the game had the most unusual score of 35-5 Patriots. In the entire history of the NFL, there has never been a final score of 35-5.
The Jets took the Patriot free kick at their own 29, and four plays later Powell ran it in from four yards out to make it 35-12 Patriots. Al Michaels of NBC Sports then decided to bring up the Miracle in the Meadowlands, when the Dolphins blew a 30-7 lead against the Jets on Monday Night Football about a decade ago. Patriot Nation perhaps began to wonder if there was any chance at all that the Jets could replicate that unbelievable comeback.
But the Patriots put the game away with a methodical, surgical, and totally expert 17-play, 87-yard drive which spilled over into the fourth quarter and chewed up 7:39 of the clock. Brady completed the drive with a one-yard sneak. On the next offensive play, Chad Schilens caught a 22-yard pass in front of Alfonzo Dennard, but Dennard hit Schilens and knocked the ball loose, and Rob Ninkovich picked up the loose ball and carried it to the Jet 37. Welker got behind Bell and hauled in a 28-yard pass, then Vereen ran around right end for a touchdown to complete the scoring for the Patriots.
Ridley finished with 97 yards rushing, while Vereen had 133 all-purpose yards. Welker led the Patriots with seven catches.
The Patriots will now have an extended time off before facing the Miami Dolphins a week from Sunday. They can now go home, enjoy their turkey, enjoy the fact that they made the Jets look like turkeys, and keep their eyes fixated on the playoffs. The defense is now beginning to play better and with more brains and discipline, and the offense is simply off the charts.
Meanwhile, all Patriot Nation has one word to say to their favorite team. Thanks.
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