The Patriots opened the second quarter with Deion Branch making a 20-yard grab, but on the next play Tom Brady badly missed a wide open Wes Welker, who came in motion from the right side but Brady threw it too far out in front.
From there Brady threw two incompletions to Branch, including one where he was double covered down the middle. That would force the Patriots to punt for the first time during the game.
One note – James Ihedigbo was seen getting treatment for a back injury on the sideline. Considering how depleted they already are, it’s obviously another area of concern as we head deeper into this game. Fortunately he returned in the next series, because they obviously can’t afford to have him out.
Defensive back Devin McCourty was hurt in the second quarter and was seen heading to the locker room after an apparent shoulder injury. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
On the next series Andre Carter once again got Mark Sanchez, this time coming up the middle and forcing a throw as he was going down, with the Jets quarterback being called for intentional grounding. Mark Anderson got Sanchez on the next play, and forced another punt.
The Patriots had tough field position on their next drive, starting from their own 7-yard line. Unfortunately after a 5-yard reception by Rob Gronkwoski, BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up 7 yards but it was called back thanks to a bad call against Logan Mankins, who was called for holding. Replays showed that Mankins didn’t hold, but unfortunately it nullified the run by Green-Ellis and New England would be forced to punt.
On the next defensive series for the Patriots, Devin McCourty was shaken up after Sterling Moore nailed him while trying to put a hit on Plaxico Burress. The officials instead called Moore for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver, and the Jets picked up 15 yards on the penalty. McCourty appeared to have suffered a right shoulder injury, and walked off the field hanging his right arm. He was replaced by Antwaun Molden, and then headed to the locker room.
On the next play Mark Anderson and Andre Carter hit Sanchez for a sack, which forced a 3rd and 7. Sanchez then threw incomplete to Burress to force yet another punt.
New England again had tough field position to start their ensuing offensive series, with the Patriots starting at the 8-yard drive. After an incompletion to Deion Branch, Tom Brady seemed to make a tough mistake after Dan Connolly appeared to snap the ball early. It appeared the Patriots had lost the ball, but Brady got back in and wrestled it away and they maintained possession. Unfortunately on the next play the Jets brought pressure and forced a safety. On that play, New York linebacker Jemaal Westerman slipped by Sebastian Vollmer and then ran over Danny Woodhead to get Brady, who switched to his left hand to try and make the throw out to the left side. That ended a 3 play, -8 yard drive for New England and cut the Patriots lead to 6-2 with just under 5-minutes to go in the half.
With McCourty sidelined, the Jets smelled blood and started attacking New England’s depleted secondary on their next drive. They first went after Molden, completing a 14-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. Two plays later they threw to Patrick Turner, who beat Phillip Adams for a 22-yard pick-up to set up first and goal for the Jets at the Patriots 10 yard line. That lead to Mark Sanchez later taking it from two yards out, giving the Jets a 9-6 lead with just 1:20 left in the half. On the play Vince Wilfork nearly had him, but just couldn’t grab his leg and keep him out.
From there, the Patriots went to the two minute offense, but a big reception by Rob Gronkowksi was nearly lost after his elbow came down after getting hit by a defender and the ball came out. However, replays showed that it wasn’t a fumble, and the Patriots retained possession.
The Jets Eric Smith then made a big error, committing a face mask penalty after he grabbed Danny Woodhead’s face mask as he came out of the backfield. That put New England at the Jets 16 yard line. Two plays later, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown, putting New England up 13-9 with just :09 left in the half. The bad news on that play was the fact the second year tight end took a big shot to his thigh and came off hobbling.
Overall it was a great drive by New England, who went 80-yards on 6 plays over just 1:03.
Notable Game Stats:
– The Patriots defense did a relatively good job in the first half, holding the Jets to just 7 offensive points, and held them to just 1-of-6 on third down.
– They also held the Jets to just 113 NET yards passing, and had three sacks. With McCourty sidelined, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Jets adjust heading into the second half.
– Passing stats for Brady: 12-of-22 for 194 yards and a touchdown through the first two quarters of play and definitely seems to be battling what most believe is an elbow injury.
– Patriots Leading receivers: Rob Gronkowski (5/79), Chad Ochocinco (2/65), Aaron Hernandez (2/18), Wes Welker (2/12), Deion Branch (1/20).