The Jets are incredibly 2-0 and in sole control of first place of the AFC East after a 16-9 win over the Patriots, snapping New England's 8 game winning streak in the Meadowlands against Gang Green. This was not a wild game like last year's Thursday classic. There is no doubt the Jets were the better team this Sunday. This was a statement to the rest of the league this team with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach is for real.
More after the jump.
Mark Sanchez: For the second straight week, the opponent forced the rookie quarterback to make plays to win the game. For the second straight week, the rookie quarterback delivered. The Pats always seemed to have a safety flying up when the Jets tried to run the ball. The Jets didn't have Sanchez put it up much in the first half and with good reason. On his first drop back, he was stripped for a loss of 17. The rest of the half, he didn't look comfortable. His 5 throws were generally off target, and he looked afraid to attack. The Jets opened things up in the second half. Sanchez went 11 for 17 with 148 yards, a touchdown, and most importantly, no interceptions. He guided a successful passing offense and allowed the Jets to churn out long drives. The defense spent a lot of time on the field in the first half and seemed to tire during the second quarter. If the D didn't get the rests Sanchez provided, it might have been a different game.
The play that impressed me most was on his final passing play. The Jets called a roll out to the right, which was right into a Patriots blitz. Had Sanchez hit a third down pass on the play, they would have been able to run out the clock. Not coverting meant giving Tom Brady one last chance. Sanchez ate the ball when nothing was there instead of throwing it up tyring to make something happen. That was the right decision. A lot of young players try to do too much in big spots. If Sanchez tried to force a pass in that spot, it could have resulted in disaster. He showed a poise and maturity beyond his years. The Jets could have something special. He outplayed a legend today.
The Pass Rush: It's not hyperbole to say that depending on how the second half of his career goes, Tom Brady has a chance to go down as the greatest quarterback ever. The Jets held him under 50% throwing the ball today, 23 for 47. He averaged a lousy 4.5 yards per attempt. That's because Rex Ryan's blitzing schemes had him under constant pressure. On just about half the times he dropped back, he was either hit or hurried. The Jets did not sack him, but today shows how overrated that stat can be. A year ago, the Jets were among the league leaders in sacks, but they didn't generate pressure consistently. Quarterbacks had all day to throw and go through their progressions. Today was just the opposite. Brady didn't have time to make reads. He was forced to deliver early. It gave the Jets secondary an edge like on the play Brady couldn't snap it off, his ball hung, and Lito Sheppard had time to recover and break up a touchdown. All of the shots he took seemed to make him skittish because he was inaccurate when he had time. Brady was facing a rookie, but he looked like a rookie today. How many times do you ever see him not throw a touchdown pass or get shut out in the second half? This was an incredible game by the defense.
Darrelle Revis: For the second straight week, Revis completely took a top five receiver out of the game. Randy Moss had 4 catches for 24 yards. Revis was a sure tackler, limiting the great wideout's long to 9 yards. He shadowed Moss the entire game and beat him to record an interception. After the first two weeks, how can anybody doubt that Revis is the best corner in football? Moss and Andre Johnson haven't belonged on the same field as him.
Donald Strickland: This guy just keeps on impressing. Aside from one missed tackle, Donald made all the plays in the open field. This system leaves corners alone, and receivers will run free unless tackling is sure. Strickland had 8 in the game and defensed a few passes.
Jay Feely: Big streaks of made field goals always seem to end at the most costly times. Even though all three field goals Feely made were inside 40 yards, there was a ton of pressure on him in a game this big. I at least was nervous. Maybe it was because he shanked a short kick against the Pats last year. Maybe it was because Doug Brien scarred me for life. Either way, Feely provided the winning margin.
Leon Washington's returns: He constantly set the Jets up in great field position with a 31 yard average and a long of 43.
Coverage units: Mike Westhoff's team limited any big returns from New England. The Pats averaged under 20 on kickoff returns and did nothing on punt returns. Standouts Wallace Wright and Ahmad Carroll both had big hits. So many times these games get decided on special teams blunders.
Jerricho Cotchery: The number one receiver stepped up as the biggest part of the passing game in the second half. He had 4 catches for 87 yards. His 45 yard catch and run on the first play of the second half seemed to ignite the offense.
The home crowd: I guess it isn't fair to judge how the crowd is watching on television, but it doesn't seem like it's been that loud in the Meadowlands for a Jets game since the Green Bay game in 2002. It clearly rattled the Pats with all of the penalties they had. From the first play of the game, Tom Brady stuck his hands over his earholes because it was so loud. Brady seldom has delay of game penalties, let alone two in a row. It's clear he was distracted. The home fans took the team to another place. Keep it up, guys. Make this place a nightmare for the opposition the rest of the year.
Dwight Lowery's game ender: Lowery made a great play on the ball on fourth down to ice it. I'm starting to expect big things for Dwight. He has a nose for the ball. His lack of speed leaves him vulnerable when he has to cover players over a long stretch, but with blitzes forcing quick throws, he's going to be a player.
Three terrible calls: That would be the Leon Washington "fumble," Bart Scott's "personal foul," and Lito Sheppard's "illegal contact." Replays showed the ball didn't come out until Washington was on the ground. Fine, you couldn't see exactly when it came out from the camera angle, but when the ball pops out over a second after his knee hits, you can say with certainty it wasn't a fumble. Scott didn't touch anybody and got flagged for 15 yards. Sheppard literally brushed a receiver and got called for contact. That helped give the Pats 6 points. The defense may have only given up a field goal if not for these calls.
Dan Dierdorf's reaction to the three bad calls: He defended all three. The worst was when he claimed Bart Scott kicked a guy. Dan, a kick is swinging your leg at and connecting with somebody. Not walking near a guy.
Stuckey's footwork on the goal line: On back to back plays on the third quarter, Chansi Stuckey didn't drag his foot near the end zone sideline and fell down when wide open with a pass floating to him in the end zone. These were not easy plays, but he didn't look aware of his spot on the field, especially on the first one.
First half offense: I get why they didn't attack in the first half. They still want to avoid putting too much on offense, but that was an awful effort. The Jets didn't execute. Nice adjustment letting it fly in the second half, though.
- I don't want to hear the Pats missed Wes Welker. His replacement, Julian Edelman, was New England's best player with 8 catches for 98 yards. He played the same shifty slot role as Welker.
- The Pats did miss Jerod Mayo a lot. The Jets had a ton of success moving the ball in the second half, and the Pats don't have a ton of defensive talent.
- Kudos to Rex for not using the prevent. I hate the prevent. You've dominated the opponent by attacking all game. Don't start giving up yards and potentially letting them get into a rhythm. That burned the Jets in Foxborough last year. The Pats couldn't move the ball in the last series because Brady had to get rid of it so quickly.
What a start to the season! The Jets look like they could be in for a very special year. They're a year ahead of schedule at this point. If nothing else, the East will be a dogfight, not a walkover for once. Just keep it in perspective. There are still 14 games left. Seasons can change in an instant. The Bills looked like world beaters early last season. The Jets looked like a real contender after crushing the Titans and fell apart just as quickly.
With that said let us all savor this win. This was a statement game. Last year, Brady was out, and the Jets were renting Brett Favre. This one feels like an announcement the Jets are here to stay. Sanchez and Ryan aren't going anywhere, and this team can stand toe to toe with the Pats.