The marquee match in the AFC East between the Jets and the Patriots lived up to its billing, with the teams remaining close on the scoreboard until late in the game. The Patriots’ re-discovered running game helped them beat the Jets at their own ground-and-pound game, racking up 152 total rushing yards to the Jets’ 97. The Law Firm, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, led the way on the ground, running for 136 yards on 27 carries (5.0 avg) and 2 touchdowns.
The defense also showed some improvement, forcing four straight three-and-outs to start the game and holding the Jets to a 27% conversion rate on 3rd down for the game. The Jets came into the game wanting to re-establish their ground-and-pound identity, but the Patriot defense didn’t allow them 100 yards rushing. Mark Sanchez did well overall in terms of statistics (16/26, 166 yards, 2 TDs, 105.6 QB rating), but he couldn’t make plays when they mattered most, or his receivers dropped the ball.
Tom Brady was efficient in the passing game completing 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards, a touchdown, and an interception that wasn’t his fault. Brady threw a pass at the goal line to the normally sure-handed TE Aaron Hernandez, but it bounced off of Hernandez’s hands and into Antonio Cromartie’s hands. The play of the game came on the first series of the second half when Brady went up-top to Wes Welker for a 73-yard strike that put the Patriots into position to go up 17-7.
While the defense showed improvement, you’ve got to wonder how the game would have turned out had Rex Ryan elected to attack the Patriots’ biggest weakness, the passing game, more frequently. The Jets had 25 rushing attempts and 26 passing attempts, which is about as balanced as you can get. It will be interesting to see if they decide to throw the ball more when the two team meet again in New York (New Jersey really).
The Patriots now move to 4-1 to keep pace with the Buffalo Bills, who held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. Next up for New England are the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo, who will be looking to rebound from a poor performance against the Detroit Lions. On top of that, the Pats will be facing another Ryan defense, this time Rob Ryan.