The New York Jets came to play today and defeated the Patriots 28-21 in Foxboro. The Jet defense flummoxed Tom Brady for most of the game and a few big plays by Mark Sanchez and the Jet offense was enough to put them over the top. Brady was sacked 5 times and was hit several more times in what turned out to be a frustrating day for the offense. What surprised me was the seeming lack of urgency shown by the Patriots. They did not go to the hurry-up offense, an offense they have a lot of success with, until there were less than 3 minutes in the game. All the while, they were down by two scores for much of the game. There’s the need to maintain composure and not look like you’re desperate, but there’s also a time where you have to realize that the clock is not on your side, especially against a team with a tough defense and an affinity for running the ball and eating up clock.
The Pats started the game well. They moved the ball down the field until Brady threw his first interception in about 340 pass attempts. Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a field goal and things looked to maybe swing back in the Pats’ favor. They drove down and had to kick a field goal, but from there on out, it was all Jets. The Jets scored two touchdowns in the 2nd quarter off of Mark Sanchez passes to LaDanian Tomlinson and Braylon Edwards. The Pats attempted a fake punt just after the two-minute warning, but Pat Chung fumbled it, giving the Jets great field position. That lead to the Sanchez-to-Edwards touchdown connection. The Pats were able to get closer in the 3rd quarter with a Brady-to-Crumpler touchdown and a successful two-point conversion, making the score 14-11. However, the Jets answered immediately with a 58-yard pass to Jericho Cotchery followed by a Santonio Holmes TD catch.
In the 4th quarter, in what may have been the death knell for New England, the Pats held onto the ball for almost 8 minutes but on a 4th and 13, the Pats went for it instead of attempting a 53-yard field goal. They did not convert and turned an 8-minute, clock-killing drive to end in no points. The Pats were able to answer back with a late field goal, and down 21-14, tried an onside kick. The Jets not only recovered, but returned it to about the 20-yard line. It was the absolute worst thing that could have happened for New England. To top it off, Shonn Greene ran around the right side and scored a 16-yard touchdown. Down 28-14 with under two minutes, it was pretty much over.
An excessive celebration penalty gave the Pats good field position after the kick-off, and they were able to score a quick touchdown. However, with less than 30 seconds left, it was pretty much over. The Jets recovered another onside kick that finally ended the game.
Uncharacteristic miscues characterized the Patriots’ performance today. For much of the season, they played nearly flawless football and did not make game-killing mistakes. This game, however, was full of miscues. That is not taking anything away from the Jets, but the Patriots made several mistakes. First was the Brady interception. That was followed by an Alge Crumpler TD drop in the end zone, forcing the Pats to kick an early field goal. Then, Pat Chung fumbled a questionable decision to try and fake a punt, and the Jets recovered in good field position. They scored a TD off of that miscue. Then, the Patriots used up nearly 8 minutes on the clock and came away with zero points. There were also several dropped balls and poor throws from Brady, mostly due to the strong pass rush.
There will be more analysis to come as we wrap up the season and look to next season. The next time to see some Patriots play will be the Pro Bowl, and Belichick will be coaching the AFC squad from what I’ve heard. As for the rest of this season…Go, Pack! Go!