By: Steve Balestrieri
A funny thing happened on the way to the Jets coronation party in the Meadowlands as the new beasts of the east. The New England Patriots with a patchwork defense at times playing wide receivers in the secondary shut down the New York Jets and soundly defeated them 37-16 as Tom Brady torched the Jets secondary in the second half as the Patriots take over control of the AFC East.
Much of the credit on defense goes to Andre Carter at defensive end who set a new Patriots record with 4.5 sacks of Mark Sanchez as the dormant Patriots pass rush was a huge factor tonight as the secondary, already short with injuries was further decimated losing Devin McCourty to a shoulder injury.
Rob Ninkovich stepped up and played his best game of the season, blanketing TE Dustin Keller and getting two interceptions, the second for a touchdown that put the game away.
Tom Brady had a so-so first half but heated up in the last minute leading the Patriots down for a go-ahead touchdown with 9 seconds left after the Jets called timeout and left plenty of time for him to work. In the second half, Brady was immense, completing his last 14 in a row, finishing 26-39 for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brady passed 3000 in just nine games only Drew Brees is the only QB in NFL history to do that.
Rob Gronkowski absolutely tortured S Eric Smith, the Jets had no one that could matchup with Gronkowski and he torched the Jets for 8 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs. One thing is clear, the Jets were bringing everyone down into the box early like the Cowboys, Giants and Steelers had. Chad Ochocinco got loose and smoked them for a 56 yard gain. The Jets didn’t do that again, and it allowed the slightest amount of separation at the line of scrimmage.
But the real credit of this game goes to the Patriots coaching staff, specifically Bill Belichick. Many have questioned Belichick’s ability to still coach at a high level defensively. With the 32 ranked defense, losing 3 starters to injury and then shutting down the Jets in a pivotal game has to be one of the better coaching jobs Belichick has done in New England in a long, long time.
Anyone who thinks Belichick has slipped needs to watch a game tape of this defense and watch the names of people who you’ve never heard of, making plays. The road to the AFC East remains through Foxborough and all is well with the force.