Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) gets tackled by New York Jets free safety Antonio Allen (39) and cornerback Dee Milliner (27) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots survived what might be the most frustrating game in the Belichick-Brady era, getting the win 13-10 over the New York Jets in Foxborough. I assume everyone has seen the fantasy football commercial, which has been seriously overplayed, where Demaryius Thomas states “Only winners get wings.” With that being said, I would like to give you the players on the Patriots who earned their wings in tonight’s win.
WR, Julian Edelman- Did Wes Welker all of a sudden posses this man’s soul? Julian Edelman was about the only reason the Patriots were able to move the football through the air the entire game, as Dobson and Thompkins were too busy dunking their hands in butter, dropping the football on seemingly every target. Edelman finishing the game with an astounding 13 catches for a total of 78 yards. He was the only thing that kept the Jets defense honest, otherwise they would’ve just dropped everyone back and let the Patriots wide receivers screw themselves. He was also phenomenal returning punts, with six total returns for 72 yards, giving the Patriots much-needed good field position. With Amendola, Gronkowski, Vereen and Sudfeld missing this game, Edelman did his very best to step up, and that’s exactly what he did.
P, Ryan Allen- You may not think that a punter can be a game changer, but Ryan Allen was fantastic tonight. Save for a few bad ones, Allen made life as tough as possible on Geno Smith and the Jets offense. 11 punts for 514 yards and an average of 46.7 yards for the rookie punter, who probably thought he’d never have to punt this much in a game for the New England Patriots. Even though part of the Jets field position woes were by their own stupidity, Allen did everything asked of him.
CB, Aqib Talib- Talib was making plays with his hands all night long, and even had one which he made with his feet. You could tell Talib was just having “one of those games” when he forced a fumble in the first quarter, kicking the ball out of the Jets player’s hands. And from there on, he continued to shut down his man, making things as tough on a rookie quarterback as you can make them. He managed two interceptions in this game, one as the Jets neared the end zone at the start of the 4th quarter, and one at the end of the game where he sealed the deal for the Patriots. He even managed to start a fight while he was at it. Talib showed why he is considered the Patriots “lockdown” cornerback.
DE, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich- Nice to see the Patriots pass rush make an appearance in this game, and boy did they ever show out in this ugly game. The two who played by far the best were sophomore Chandler Jones and hard-nosed veteran Rob Ninkovich. Jones had two sacks in this game, as he looks to be the breakout star of this defense, and make life a living hell for Geno Smith with his athleticism and length. And for Ninkovich, you don’t really need stats to justify this guy getting wings. He’s everywhere you need him to be, making the necessary, not flashy, plays, and just doing everything you’d want from a player. It’s a rather odd pairing of seemingly completely different players, but these two are on their way to becoming a dynamic duo.
LB, Donta Hightower- If I wasn’t so stuck, nailed and riveted to the Chandler Jones bandwagon, I’d be on Hightower’s bandwagon to be the breakout star of this defense. Hightower was another player who didn’t make the big flashy plays, but he did his job, the mantra of a Belichick led team. In coverage, against the run, sideline to sideline, this guy is doing everything you ask from him, the second year Alabama player is really blossoming into a nice player.
The Rest of the New England Defense- Why the heck not? This defense was phenomenal tonight. No one would confuse the Jets for a stud offense, but nevertheless, the Patriots defense did everything needed of them, while the offense was tripping over their own feet. From the secondary, guys like Fonzie Dennard and Steve Gregory, to the linebacking corps, Jerod Mayo, and defensive line, Michael Buchanan, Joe Vellano, Big Vince and Tommy Kelly. We haven’t seen anything like this for years, and it was refreshing to see the defense take hold and win this game.
So there you have, these are the players who have earned their wings for being the reason the Patriots won this incredibly ugly, knock ’em out, slug it out football game. I do not ever want to see this kind of game ever again from a Tom Brady led team, I think we accept it just this once. Maybe we could just douse the rookie wide receivers in stickum next game…
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