Winning ugly sure beats losing. We predicted it wasn’t going to be a high-scoring affair, given the two defenses involved. My prediction was 17-13 Patriots. Then factor in the wind and rain, and the game was going to be adversely affected even more by the offenses. Players were losing their footing; passes were dropped and kicks bobbled.
Even with a lack of style points, the Patriots needed a win in the worst way and guaranteed it will be a happy flight back to Providence. The team started 0-2 for the first time since 2001 and couldn’t afford to begin the season 0-3.
In the end, they made more plays than the Jets, and despite having several opportunities to put them away, it came down to a final Hail Mary play to seal the deal. But the Patriots now have some positive momentum to build off of.
If you are a member of the Patriots, you came close to winning the first two games (but didn’t), came close to giving this one away at the end (but you didn’t), and came away on top from another rock fight with the Jets… for the 15th straight time.
If you’re a member of the Jets right now, you have to be all kinds of frustrated because all of that Super Bowl hype and non-stop fellatory worship by the national media this spring and summer, that first Super Bowl since the Johnson administration, is now looking as distant as ever.
And the talk of the roster only needing Aaron Rodgers to put them over the top? While he would definitely help win some close games for sure, this team’s issues go deeper than just him. But we’ll revisit that later this season.
Other Observations Include:
Patriots Defense Was Outstanding (in the Rain) —
Pardon the poor pun there. But the defense was excellent in this game, and I think that the Christian Gonzalez selection in the draft is turning out to be a tremendous move by the GM, who can’t draft.
Gonzalez was terrific against Garrett Wilson on Sunday and only allowed two catches when covering him. Gonzalez has faced several top receivers in the NFL in his first three weeks and has yet to look overmatched. He has the right mentality for the job as a lockdown type of corner in this league, possessing the traits that the best must-have.
Size to match up with bigger receivers but agile enough to run with the quick ones. Good footwork and the ability to get physical. The speed to match and mirror down the field, and above all, a high football I.Q.
While he’s not a loud chest-beater like most CBs, he’s quiet with a short-term memory, moving from one play to the next. He has a bright future.
Does anyone out there want to rethink how good the defense was a week ago after Miami’s show against the Broncos? 70 points? Lawdy, Lawdy, Miss Clawdy.
Last week, the media was talking about the Cowboys’ defense after their manhandling of the Jets’ offense. Well, this game by the Patriots’ defense was just as good, if not better. Dallas held the Jets to 215 total yards, and the Patriots held them to 171.
The Patriots cleaned up some of the issues with run defense and allowed the Jets just 38 yards on 22 carries, a 1.7-yard average. The tandem of Dalvin Cook (8 rushes for 18 yards) and Breece Hall (12 carries for 18 yards) was totally negated.
Matthew Judon had a big game with two sacks, the second being a sack of Wilson in the end zone for a safety.
Garrett Wilson had just five catches for 48, but 29 of those came late in the game. It wasn’t a good day for him; he was visibly upset on the sideline. The Patriots’ defense held the Jets to just 2-14 on third down and 1-2 on fourth down. The Jets averaged 2.8 yards per play.
The Patriots Running Game Wakes Up —
The running game was a big key this week. Facing an excellent Jets defense, the coaching staff didn’t want to face many third-and-long situations where that defense could tee off.
In my pre-game keys, I suggested that the team stay patient with the running game, especially putting Mac Jones under center where the running game could open up play-action passing opportunities.
Bill O’Brien did stay patient with the running game, and the team rushed 40 times for 157 yards. While the 3.9-yard average isn’t earth-shattering, grinding out 157 yards against this Jet defense was plenty good enough.
Ezekiel Elliott had his best game as a Patriot, carrying the ball 16 times for 80 yards, a 5.0 average. Rhamondre Stevenson added 59 yards on 19 carries. And with Jones under center, the team used play-action and struck pay dirt.
The team brought Pharaoh Brown in to block. Using Mike Gesicki as a decoy, Jones faked the run and hit Brown, who was wide open down the seam for a 58-yard TD. It was a busted coverage gaffe by the Jets, who either didn’t account for Brown or didn’t believe that he was a viable target. Either way, it was a much-needed touchdown for the Patriots offense.
Another pre-game key was getting the tight ends more involved. When I wrote that, I wasn’t thinking about Brown. Did anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Overall, the TEs caught five passes for 106 yards and a score.
Mac Jones had a solid game and has shown great patience sitting in the pocket until his receivers get open while absorbing some big hits. His ball placement on several throws was terrific, although the deep passing game, with the exception of Brown’s TD, has still not materialized. The timing still seems a tad off.
The deep pass to Demario Douglas was spot on, but it seemed like the DB, in an attempt to swat the ball away, made contact with Douglas’ facemask, causing the incompletion. The referees missed it, and other fouls that were committed by both teams.
The Patriots offensive line played a much better game on Sunday. As we mentioned, the team was able to rush for 157 yards, and while Jones’ passing yards were only 201, that ability to keep the Jets off balance was a huge advantage. Most importantly, they allowed no sacks, while the offense didn’t turn the ball over once.
Two Bad Snaps Mar STs Play —
Chad Ryland was 2-4 on FG attempts, but both of his misses were due to high snaps from the normally rock-steady Joe Cardona. Bryce Barringer put four punts inside the 20-yard line.
With Matthew Slater probably in his final season, the team has found his heir apparent in Brendan Schooler. He just seems to get better every week.
They still have a lot to clean up offensively. That one ugly sequence in the third quarter with a personal foul and two false starts was awful. “We just have to get more points than we got. 15; generally, you’re going to need more than that, but it was good enough today. It was a great job defensively, especially in the first half,” Belichick said in his post-game press conference.
Style points aside, a win is a win, and for the players, especially sweeter when it is against the Jets, 15 in a row sounds pretty good right now.
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Breece Hall Christian Gonzalez Dalvin Cook Ezekiel Elliott Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots New York Jets Patriots edge rushers Zach Wilson