I felt really, really good about this game all week. The Patriots had looked stellar in their Week 1 win, while the Jets looked putrid. I was certainly aware of the fact that Week 1 games can be utterly deceiving, but it just seemed like the Patriots had finally shed the ghosts that haunted them last season. For nearly a decade, the Patriots were a team that would have relished the opportunity to slam the door shut on the Jets two games into the season. If that hunger was back, there would be no hangover from their touted victory over Cincinnati. It wouldn't matter that the Jets would play like wild animals backed into a corner. The Patriots would simply get the job done, end the Jets, and move on to the next game.
That's what I expected all week. Then I sat down on the couch Sunday afternoon, and got a sinking feeling in my stomach. The game hadn't even kicked off, but somewhere inside of me, my Patriots' 6th sense was flashing warning signs. For the first quarter, I tried to reason with myself and ignore it. After all, the Jets ran a total of three plays during that period, while New England dominated the ball. However, Phil Simms summed it up best as Jim Nance tried to echo my thoughts. "What's the score?"
0-0. Despite the Patriots' dominating performance, they failed to capitalize on the situation. For starters, I would have gone for the throat and tried to continue for a TD on the opening drive where the Pats had 4th and 1 in the red zone. They instead opted for a 32 yard field goal which was disallowed after a delay of game penalty. Gostkowski proceeded to shank the subsequent 37 yard attempt. Just awful.
Things seemed to turn around a bit in the 2nd quarter, with the Patriots putting up their only two scoring drives of the game. From there, the game was a total flashback to the Week 2 game in 2009. In last year's rendition, the Patriots dominated the first half, but didn't light up the score board. They then followed that up by getting shut out in the second half and losing the game. If there was one thing I didn't expect heading into yesterday's game, it was another blown halftime lead with a second half shut-out.
Some quick thoughts...
Darius Butler got owned in the second half. The Patriots secondary killed them in road games last season with similar poor play. The fact that this trend is again becoming a concern, doesn't bode well. Devin McCourty looked fairly solid, but did get burned on two TD's as well. This was definitely a game where New England missed Leigh Bodden.
I won't crucify Brady for his two INT's. The first one was essentially a good punt, pinning the Jets on the 6-yard line. The other was batted around before ultimately being caught by a Jets' defender. Overall though, it seemed like he was fairly innacurate when it came to the long ball, failing to connect on some big throws deep. Had one or two of those connected, the game may have played out entirely differently.
Gostkowski has got to be able to nail a 37 yarder. I won't get too bent out of shape about his 1 for 4 performance this year. The two he missed last week were long ones. You have to be able to hit from 37.
Tully Banta-Cain bailed out the Jets with a dumb late hit, leading to their first scoring drive. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Perhaps he was shaken up by the hard hit he received in the first quarter, but Wes Welker was non-existent in the 2nd half. I don't know if it was his being hurt, his not playing well, or bad coaching, so I won't start throwing around blame. Still, if he was 100% ready to go, it's unacceptable how poorly he was utilized.
Aaron Hernandez was phenomenal, racking up some serious yards and making defenders miss, left and right. The dude definitely has a bright future.
The Pats' pass rush was fairly effective, knocking Sanchez for sacks three times. Gerard Warren was particularly a beast, notching two of those three.
The Patriots lost the war. That's the most important thing and I'm defintely not losing sight of that fact. However, if there is any silver lining to the storm cloud, it's that they won this battle...
That, my friends, is what's left of Revis Island.
Just a spectacular grab by Moss, and an even better non-chalant celebration afterwards. That's called doing your work and showing respect. Major, major props to Moss for the professionalism there.