Top 10 Plays from Jets/Pats
JETS 28, PATRIOTS 21
The Jets did most of the talking leading up to the weekend finale and then brought all the talk to a stop and punched the NFL’s best team in the gut. Repeatedly. Apart from a brutal play-calling sequence and a missed chip-shot field goal in the first quarter, the Jets played nearly flawless football and executed their gameplan to perfection. The got significant pressure without having to overload blitz and played blanket coverage all night long on every Patriot receiver. The Jets front seven delivered four of the Jets five sacks and hit Brady again and again. They had the surefire MVP flustered, scared and making mistakes. Brady would scan through his progressions and nothing would be there. Nothing. The Jets ended Tom Brady’s 360 pass streak without an interception and constantly forced him to check down and throw the ball away or into the turf.
Even with Randy Moss earlier this season, the Patriots never really possessed a true deep threat that could effectively stretch the field. However, because of Tom Brady’s accuracy and the Patriot’s route-running, the offense exploded after Moss was traded. The offense was built upon underneath routes and the after-the-catch ability of guys like Deion Branch, Wes Welker and the young tight ends. The Jets took all of that away with superb coverage and open-field tackling. The limited the Patriots big plays and flustered Brady into a decidedly un-MVP type of performance. Of Tom Brady’s 45 pass attempts, only two went for more than 20 yards. Three, if you count David Harris’ 58-yard interception return. The Jets effectively shut down the running game, holding New England running backs to 89 yards on 23 carries (3.86 yards per carry), allowing them to focus on stifling Brady. The Jets defense said Brady looked scared, but I’d probably label it indecisive and confused. He was hit exponentially more times than he is used to and things that typically open up in that offense were slammed shut for him.
The Jets offense was sporadic on Sunday afternoon, alternating brutal series with beautiful ones. Tomlinson looked fresh for a second straight week and averaged 4.3 yards per carry and made an acrobatic catch on a pass behind him and over his head which he took in for a 7 yard score to get the Jets on the board. Shonn Greene averaged 4.5 yards on his 17 carries and is running hard and downhill for a second consecutive postseason. Running a more traditional offense with their Wildcat option inactive with a groin injury, the Jets moved the ball when they needed to and in a very satisfying turn of events, cashed in five red zone opportunities with four touchdowns. They didn’t turn the ball over and although they held the ball for 10 minutes less than the Patriots, it was the Jets who always seemed calm and in control.
They played smart, hard and disciplined. They racked up only 3 penalties (35 yards) and converted 6 of 13 third down attempts and held New England to 5 of 18 on third and fourth down tries. They knocked off the 14-2 number one overall seed in the playoffs in their own house where the Patriots were 8-0 this year.
1. David Harris’ interception and 58-yard return
After the Jets punted on their first possession, Brady led the Patriots deep into Jets territory. On 1st-and-10 from the 28, Brady overthrew his running back coming out of the backfield and David Harris became the first person to intercept Brady since Week 5 and returned it inside the Patriots 15. The Jets offense ended up going backwards and Nick Folk missed a gimme field-goal, but the interception changed the tone of the game, showing that the Patriots were not going to walk all over the Jets two games in a row.
2. Braylon Edwards’ 37-yard reception
Trailing 3-0 with 12 minutes left in the half, and facing 3rd-and-6 around midfield, Mark Sanchez’s usually clean pocket collapsed and two Patriots got in his face. Sanchez avoided both pass-rushers and rolled out to his left. He saw Braylon Edwards and pointed towards the sideline before lobbing a throw over the NE defender and into Edwards’ hands for a 37 yard gain and a huge first down. Two plays later, Sanchez hit Tomlinson on a swing pass for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
3. New England botches a fake punt
On 4th-and-4 from their own 38, New England tried a direct snap to safety Pat Chung, who muffed it and by the time he recovered it, his lanes had closed and the Jets had taken over in New England territory with just over a minute left in the half. With the Patriots due to get the ball to start the second half, and the Jets moving the ball somewhat sporadically, the decision was a strange one.
4. Braylon Edwards (and two NE defenders) score a 15-yard TD
After LT gained 22 yards on two carries, Edwards pulled in a pass around the seven yard line and dragged two defenders into the end zone for a touchdown just before halftime which gave the Jets a 14-3 lead going into the break. They capitalized on the Patriots special teams gaffe and gave themselves some breathing room.
5. Calvin Pace strip-sacks Brady
Pace’s strip sack set the Patriots back into a third-and-forever type of play and forced another punt after yet another short possession.
6. Jerricho Cotchery’s 58-yard catch and scamper
One play after New England drew within 14-11 with a touchdown and two-point conversion, Jerricho Cotchery took a short pass and raced 58 yards deep into New England territory to take back some of the momentum the Patriots turned with their score. Cotchery is not one of the Jets flashy offseason additions, but has been their consistent veteran that does everything that’s asked of him and does it perfectly and 100%.
7. Santonio Holmes tapdance touchdown
Facing third and four on the New England 7, Mark Sanchez threw a pass up and out of the back left corner of the end zone. But Santonio Holmes went up and his toes came down in the endzone with a TD catch eerily reminiscent of his Super Bowl MVP catch a couple of years ago. A bullet throw from Mark Sanchez just stuck to his hands and both feet came down in bounds and the Jets had a 21-11 lead and seemingly all of the momentum.
8. Fourth down stop
After the Holmes touchdown, the Patriots marched down the field, eating clock and churning out first downs. They seemed to lack the urgency a team down two scores in the fourth quarter usually has. They found themselves facing a 52-yard field goal attempt or a fourth-and-13. They went for it and Brady threw slightly behind Branch who couldn’t pull in the pass and the Jets got the ball back on downs.
9. Antonio Cromartie & Shonn Greene put the game away (temporarily)
After the Patriots had managed a field goal to pull to within 21-14, Antonio Cromartie returned an onside-kick attempt to the New England 23 and Shonn Green took it to the house two plays later to give the Jets a 28-14 lead, but also gave the Pats one last chance. A first down would have ended the game as the Patriots were out of timeouts, but the score gave them the ball back for another shot at a miracle.
10. Eric Smith covers it up
Sure enough, the Patriots marched down the field and scored to make it a one possession game again and lined up for their second on-side kick in two minutes. This one bounced right into the hands of safety Eric Smith who fell on it and the Patriots season was over when Mark Sanchez took a knee on the ensuing play.