Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jets' talk far from cheap in win over Pats

The Jets look good, especially on defense. And they knew it before any of us did.

Kerry Rhodes said the Jets would hit Tom Brady more than six times. And while they didn't sack Brady once they were constantly in his face, as Brady found about as much rhythm as Matt Schaub did last weekend, which isn't saying much.

The numbers for Brady were pedestrian at best. He was just 23-for-47 passing, the first time he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes since Week 13 of 2007 against Baltimore, the only time it happened that season.

Brady also managed just 216 yards and threw an interception with no touchdowns. It was obvious he missed his security blanket Wes Welker against the Jets constant pressure. Welker missed the game with a knee injury.

It also helped that the Jets have arguably the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis, who held Randy Moss to just four catches for 24 yards after a 12-catch game in Week 1. Undrafted rookie Julian Edelman led New England with eight catches for 98 yards, doing his best Welker impression running the underneath routes.

It didn't help New England's case that Brady was erratic even when he had time to throw. Whether it was the Jets' pressure, Brady shaking off the rust from a lost season or a combination of the two, the Patriots' quarterback missed lots of open receivers in the game. In fact, New England's running game produced almost as many yards per play as its passing game (4.2 compared to 4.6).

All nine of the Patriots' points came in the first half, when they took a 9-3 lead into the locker room. But the Jets would take the lead for good on the opening drive of the second half, going 56 yards in just three plays after a great return from Leon Washington.

A 33-yard pass from Mark Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery and a two-yard run by Thomas Jones took the Jets down to New England's nine-yard-line. I said before the game that Dustin Keller would be a key for the Jets, and he found a soft spot in the Patriots' zone on the next play as Sanchez hit him to put the Jets ahead.

Keller had just three catches for 22 yards, but Sanchez was the story again for the Jets' offense. After throwing just five passes in the first half, he finished the game 14-for-22 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He took care of the football and let the dominating Jets defense do its job, as they have yet to allow an offensive touchdown this season.

In beating the Pats at home for the first time since 2000 and holding them without a touchdown, the first time that's happened since 2006, they surely put New England and the rest of the league on notice. Nothing will come easily against the Jets defense this season, and their offense isn't going to make mistakes.

That offense will also run the ball effectively week in and week out. Thomas Jones and Washington both had 14 carries, with Washington leading the way with 58 yards and Jones adding 54. This two-pronged attack will allow the Jets to keep opponents guessing and control the clock, keeping their defense fresh enough to stay aggressive into the fourth quarter.

New England racked up almost 200 yards in the first half, but couldn't reach the endzone. The Jets stiffened further in the second half while racking up almost 200 yards of their own on offense to take control of the game on both sides of the ball.

Despite the clutch presence of Brady, the moments of trepidation late in the game were few and far between for this Jets fan. After two games, the Jets have a great blueprint in place and the personnel to make it work.

I hate to judge a season after just two games, as we saw last year with a six-week collapse that would impress even the Mets. But something feels right about this team right now. And if they can shut down Chris Johnson and the Titans next week, who lost to Houston this weekend to fall to 0-2, it will go a long way towards cementing those feelings.

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