Pats, Jets throwback a rivalry
Monday, October 22, 2012
Nothing like a little hostility when renewing acquaintances.
Well before Sunday's kickoff at Gillette Stadium, the New York Jets made certain they wouldn't leave any stone unturned when it comes to tweaking the nose of the New England Patriots. Jets coaches, including head coach Rex Ryan, spoke with NFL officials on and off the field about the Patriots' no-huddle offense, and the inability to properly substitute defensive changes. NE's rapid pace of play makes it difficult for opponents to keep up with personnel changes - which is part of the game plan, of course.
And the Jets don't like that, not one bit. They used that snub to their benefit - and for the second straight week, the Patriots were shocked at game's end...only this time, they managed to squeeze out a 29-26 win in overtime.
From the outset, the Jets appeared determined to run right at, if not over, the Patriots maligned defense. An 11-play, 76 yard drive featured several lob passes from QB Mark Sanchez over the secondary, and finished with a Shonn Greene one yard run for the score on the Jets opening possession.
But the Patriots bounced right back, as Devin McCourty took the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for a score to tie the game at 7-7, with 8:39 to play in the first quarter.
After stuffing the Jets deep in their end of the field, a suddenly inspired Patriots offense decided to jump into the fray...with Tom Brady finding Rob Gronkowski for a fantastic over-the-shoulder grab on a 17-yard play and a TD...giving NE the lead at 14-7 with 4:11 to go in the period. Then early in the 2nd quarter, with the Jets pinned to their 12 yard line, a bad handoff between Sanchez and Greene (with Vince Wilfork breathing down their necks) resulted in a fumble...that Sanchez managed to kick out of the back of the end zone, giving the Patriots a safety (their first defensive two-pointer since 2006) and a 16-7 advantage.
With the Jets driving into New England territory halfway through the quarter, Sanchez underthrew a pass intended for Stephen Hill in the end zone that was picked off by rookie Alfonzo Dennard. After the Patriots' drive stalled, a defensive face mask call against NY on a 4th down punt gave possession back to the Pats...but the offense failed to take advantage of the gift.
Late in the quarter, thanks in part to some over-zealousness from the defense, New York manuevered Nick Folk into position to kick a 54 yard field goal, pulling the Jets within 16-10 at the half. With the Patriots' offense struggling a bit and NY self-inflicting a few wounds, they couldn't feel too bad about the deficit.
Nor could the Patriots feel too good about the lead. Leading in total yardage but trailing on the scoreboard, the Jets opened the second half with the ball...and immediately moved the ball in position to score. Sanchez missed a 3rd and two connection with Chaz Schilenz that could have been a TD...and the Jets settled for a 21 yard Folk field goal to pull within 16-13 after an 11-play drive.
Time for the Pats' offense to put it in gear. An 11-play drive reached the Jets' one yard line, after Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for 16 yards to the one. Hernandez lost possession of the ball, stripped as he was falling and the ball fumbled into the end zone. An apparent touchback for the Jets was reversed, however, as Hernandez was deemed down before the ball came loose.
It was a potential game-changing play. Three plays later, Brady turned to ol' reliable - Gronkowski - for their second TD hook-up, and New England led 23-13 with 2:39 to play in the quarter. A 15-play drive that consumed almost seven minutes of the clock was pitched at the perfect time.
But an answer on the next drive was not to be found, with a chance to put the game away. A New England drive stalled at midfield, giving the Jets a chance to make things interesting in the stretch run. Beginning at their own seven yard line, Sanchez moved his team methodically down the field against the Patriots' defense, helped along the way by NE defensive holding calls. Dustin Keller caught the scoring pass from Sanchez from seven yards out to make it 23-20 with 5:44 left - and again, the Pats' inability to put a team away cost them.
Facing 1st and 20 from their own 11, the Patriots quickly went three-and-out, no longer appearing to be the juggernaut they once were on offense. 65 yards away from the potential game-tying, or winning score...the Jets had 4:19 left on the clock to get there against a reeling Patriots defense. Moving with relative ease, Stephen Hill dropped a third down pass that should have been a first down. Instead, Folk had to settle for a 43 yard field goal to tie the game at 23-23...and 2:06 left.
On the kickoff following the score, McCourty - who had been a hero with a 104-yard return for a score earlier in the game - put on the goat horns by fumbling on the return, setting the Jets up at the NE 18.
After a third down sack of Sanchez by Dont'a Hightower, Folk came on to connect from 43 yards out, giving the Jets a 26-23 lead...with 1:37 left on the clock, and the Pats 79 yards away from a score. Two completions to Gronkowski, and two to Danny Woodhead put NE on the Jets' 25. From the same distance that he missed from against Arizona earlier in the season, Stephen Gostkowski hit from 43 yards as time ran out...putting the game into overtime.
After winning the coin toss to take the first possession of OT, the Patriots got a pass interference call to go in their favor on Hernandez, keeping the drive alive at midfield. Another 3rd down attempt to Hernandez fell incomplete, and Gostkowski booted a 48 yard FG to give the Pats a 29-26 lead, with 11:02 to go in the period. Under the new OT rules put in for this season, the Jets then had the chance to tie it back up, or win it, if they could score a touchdown.
A defensive holding penalty - again - on Dennard in the secondary kept the NY drive alive on a third down attempt. On a second down pass play two plays later, Sanchez was strip-sacked by Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham, with Ninkovich recovering the loose ball at the Jets' 25...ending the game.
But the rivalry is still very much intact.
Post Game Notes
The Patriots gained a total of 381 yards of offense against the Jets, and have now gained at least 350 total yards in 16 consecutive games, tying the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the longest such streak in NFL history...McCourty's 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter was the second longest kickoff return in team history. Ellis Hobbs has the longest in team history with a 108-yard return for a touchdown at the New York Jets on Sept. 9, 2007...Brady engineered his 35th career game-winning performance to lead his team to victory following a fourth-quarter deficit or tie...the Patriots are now 6-0 when wearing throwback uniforms at home...RB Shane Vereen made his first NFL start and finished the game with a career high 49 yards on eight carries...seventh-round draft pick Alfonzo Dennard made his first NFL start and registered his first NFL interception in the second quarter...New England inches ahead of the Jets in the all-time regular-season series between the teams, with today’s victory giving New England a 52-51-1 advantage in the all-time series...