FLORHAM PARK, NJ – I’m not sure what’s louder; the roar of Jets fans yelling “I told you so” or the silence of their skeptics. After the Jets thrashing of the New England Patriots fans have plenty to cheer for. The offense not only showed signs of life, but proved they can be a juggernaut like they were anticipated to be. The defense shut down Tom Brady, without CB Darrelle Revis, and forced him into three turnovers. Also plenty of reason to silence the critics who said the Jets were all bark and little bite.
But the day belonged to the so-called sophomoric second-year quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who went toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s heavyweight champs, Tom Brady. Coming into the game, Rex Ryan admitted that the Patriots were better than the Jets in two areas: the head coach and the quarterback positions. In a move that was more of a compliment to the Patriots than a slight to his team, there was no doubting that Sanchez and Brady were incomparable. Except for last night. Sanchez looked poised standing tall in the pocket and rolling out on the bootleg. There were no signs of the scared child that looked over-matched against the Ravens.
Not only did Sanchez match Brady drive for drive, but KO’d the Super Bowl MVP when it mattered the most. After Brady constructed a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ate up over eight minutes for the first score of the game, Sanchez answered back with an equally masterful 12-play, 78-yard drive for seven minutes. And while a Revis-less Jets defense forced Brady in to three turnovers, Sanchez picked apart a young Patriots secondary for three scores and zero turnovers. Through two games, Sanchez has yet to record a turnover.
After being on the hot seat for his offensive schemes, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s motion and shift system worked perfectly against young secondary. On Sanchez’s second touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery, it was easy to see the misdirection and stop-and-go routes confused CBs Darius Butler (who Sanchez frequently picked on) and Devin McCourty. They still made a living on the short-route passes and a steady serving of the run, but it allowed the Jets to stretch the field on occasion – which they converted with great success.
While the day belonged to Sanchez, who displayed his leadership on a veteran team and his label as a gamer, the game had another subplot; injuries to key players. Revis, who was limited in practice on Thursday after tweaking his left hamstring, re-aggravated that same hamstring on a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. With Moss streaking down the center of the field, Revis trailed by a step or two, Brady heaved a bomb toward the endzone. The ball was perfectly thrown. Moss reached out – one arm, one hand – and plucked the ball out of the air. Revis made a last-second lunge for the ball but grabbed his hamstring. While Moss got his flotation device off Revis Island, Revis was getting his ego and hamstring rubbed out on the sideline. He would not return.
Much like the injury to Kris Jenkins, it would take the collective effort of the defensive secondary to replace the play of Revis. Antonio Cromartie played exceptionally well on Moss, perhaps forcing the Freak into the Slouch. In his first game as a Jet – a la in the back-up role due to injury, safety Brodney Pool had a DVR-worthy pick on Brady in which Pool catches a tipped ball, inches from the sideline, and he gains control of the ball and plants his toes to the turf as the rubber beads were his alibi.
Center Nick Mangold left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. He sat out on the Jets go-ahead drive while back-up Rob Turner took the snapping duties. He did return for the game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter.
Jason Taylor’s first sack as a Jet came with a lot of impact. Not only did he force a fumble late in the game on the sack, but he re-injured his left elbow. He would leave the game and leave the stadium with it heavily wrapped.
And as for the rest of the defensive front seven, they held their ground allowing 52 yards rushing and getting two more sacks to add to Taylor’s late strip-sack. The platoon replacement of Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito combined for 11 tackles. Not a bad way to forget about the large loss of Jenkins.
In a complete 180 degree turnaround from last week, the Jets won the battle of the boxscore – beating the Patriots in the most-telling statistics in football. They led the time of possession 32 minutes to 28 while recording more first downs (23). After only converting one third down against the Ravens, the Jets were a shade under 50%, going 6-for-13 on third downs. They allowed only one sack – albeit a bone-crushing hit from Gerard Warren. And the best stat of all? The Jets committed only six penalties for 58 yards, cutting that number in half from last week.
While the Jets have plenty to smile about after such a team-oriented win, they have to re-focus as they travel to the 2-0 Miami Dolphins this week. The Jets will have their work cut-out for them as the Dolphins defense looked strong against the Vikings yesterday. With the addition of Brandon Marshall and the emergence of Chad Henne, their offense has a different look than the Wildcat offense that has been a thorn in the side of team’s around the league since they introduced it.
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