Last season, the Patriots had issues putting teams away in the second half, especially on the road, and Tom Brady at times relied too heavily on Randy Moss and Wes Welker to move the ball. Alas, these same problems returned at the Meadowlands as the Patriots blew their 4-point halftime lead and went scoreless in the second half, surrendering 21 unanswered points. Tom Brady relied way too heavily on Randy Moss, targeting him 10 times while Moss only snagged two of them. One was a spectacular touchdown towards the end of the second half, but in the second half, it was too deep too often. Brady’s 3 picks came when he went Moss’s way, including one that was certainly Moss’s fault. Moss tipped the ball up and it was subsequently snagged by Jets S Brodney Poole. But the offense was only part of the problem.
The defense that we all worried about coming out of preseason reared its ugly head as the first half came to a close. The Pats went up 14-7 with under two minutes to go, but the Jets, who barely sniffed decent offensive play last week, were able to work into field goal range and brought the score to 14-10. From then on, it was all Jets. Mark Sanchez looked like a Pro Bowler, hitting the intermediate and underneath routes while picking his spots to take shots down field. It was obvious that CB Darius Butler was the weak spot of the defense, as virtually every deep pass or big play was in his direction. He was also flagged for two costly pass interference plays. Last week, Chad Ochocinco caught 12 passes for 159 yards, mostly with Butler in coverage. It’s now obvious that he has a bullseye on his back.
At times, the defense was able to get good pressure on Sanchez, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Gerard Warren played well, gaining 2 sacks. Tully Banta-Cain also got a sack on Sanchez. Overall, the Pats couldn’t stop the run, which opened up play action and the intermediate-to-short routes. TE Dustin Keller again was a Patriot-killer, catching 7 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Jets running backs were able to average 4.3 yards/carry, allowing them to put the game away late in the 4th quarter.
Aside from Warren, there were some bright spots of the game. In the first half, the offense looked unstoppable, being stymied in their first possession only by a delay of game penalty, leading to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal miss. Moss’s one-handed TD grab over Darrelle Revis was highlight reel material. Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez had a phenomenal game, catching 6 passes for 101 yards. Zoltan Mesko had a good day punting, with a 48.7-yard average with a 45-yard net and a long punt of 56 yards. Other than that, there’s not many positives to take out of the game.
Next up is the Buffalo Bills. More to come on Buffalo and the this Jets game later on and throughout the week…