Kisha's Korner: Jets Grounded in New England
By Kisha Tapangan
As the Patriots brushed themselves off after a disappointing loss to conference rivals New York Jets in week two with a final score of 28-14, their second meeting on week 13 was quickly marked as a definitive game to watch.
Interestingly enough, no one could have anticipated just what type of playoff implications were going to be exposed at the conclusion of the battle of the 9-2 teams.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained conference what his team's goal were in the post game press. "We just wanted to come in tonight and play well and beat the Jets," Belichick said. "That was our goal tonight."
Many pegged this to be a difficult one for the Patriots, a game in which they would be "lucky" to come away with a win. Unlike many of the earlier games for Mark Sanchez and the Jets, luck had nothing to do with it.
The Patriots turned in a dominating performance over the Jets to come away with a final score of 45-3. This victory has elevated to the Patriots to 10-2 and places at the top of the AFC East.
It seemed only fitting that the Patriots came out with a convincing win on the night that the team honored one of their most admired players, linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
Brady Makes It Look Easy
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is back. Within the last few games, Brady has been successful in dismantling some of the league's best defenses including that of the Jets.
Brady expressed at the end of the game, ‘It was fun to be a New England Patriot on Tedy Bruschi night, I'll tell you that." One look at Monday's game and it's clear to see that Brady and the rest of the New England offense was having fun during the game.
Against the Jets, Brady threw to eight different receivers and handed off to four different running backs. Brady's game management is one of the most noticeable strengths in the Patriots' offense as he has drastically improved in reading the field and also finding the most beneficial open target. It goes without saying that much of the Brady's increased time in the pocket is due to the efficiency of the offensive line. The return of left guard Logan Mankins has been an instant improvement to the unit. All-purpose backup Dan Connolly has consistently steppied up to fill any void that the Patriots may have.
Running back/wide receiver Danny Woodhead, who was cut by the Jets earlier in the season, gave his two cents on just what type of leader the Patriots really have,
"He is Tom Brady. Everyone knows that. He has been able to do some pretty good things throughout his career. I don't know if stuff like that really surprises anyone."
Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and no interceptions. Brady averaged 15.5 yards per pass to each of the eight different receivers of the night. Number 12 was near perfect with a passer rating of 148.9.
Making the Most of It All
Many of the members on the Patriots team will not hesitate to rave about the superb coaching staff and the work ethic of their quarterback Tom Brady. As if returning the favor, it was Brady at the end of Monday's game that gave credit to his budding group of offensive weapons.
"They work so hard," Brady expressed, "...They take so much pride and they're so well coached."
Tom Brady had another outstanding game against the league's No. 3 rated defense of the Jets. New York entered the game with the twelfth ranked pass defense which had yielded just 210.6 yards per game. New York's run defense was even better (fourth overall), allowing just 86.3 yards per game.
Patriots top running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Green-Ellis exploded through the Jets' rush defense with ease on both of the crucial red zone touchdowns.
A constant trend for the Patriots offense has been having the ability to come up with just enough to secure a scoring opportunity whether it be a touchdown or a field goal.
Brady continued to discuss, "The guys stepped up and they made the big plays when we needed it...it's our level of execution that we need to continue to improve."
The Patriots can execute when the opportunity presents itself, regardless of who their opponents are that is what makes this team so fascinating and complex.
Danny Woodhead has become quite the utility player for New England. In some games, Woodhead leads the charge in rushing yards along with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, then the following week he is the second most frequented target for Brady.
Fellow wide receiver Wes Welker was not afraid to gush about number 39, "We got him off the streets and he's come in here and been such a great addition for us."
With the Jets pushing to add to the already overflowing hype for the Monday night match up, the question arose as to how Woodhead felt about playing against the team that cut him not too long ago. In true Patriots fashion, Woodhead responded with a simple phrase,
"I am a New England Patriot."
Quiet Before the Storm: Pats Defense Outperforms
The Patriots kept focus during the week leading up to one of the biggest games of the season. Many players on the team called the past week's practice as one of the best weeks they've had all season.
Wes Welker explained, "We always have motivation. We always want to come out and win and play hard and do what we can out there to win the ball game."
A huge aspect as to what won the ball game for the Patriots is the outstanding performance of the defense that has continued to blossom week after week.
Continuing with leading the team in combined tackles is Jerod Mayo who closed the Jets game with a total of 12 stops. The Patriots ignored all the trash talk coming from the Jets camp all week, while Mayo showed how the Patriots handle that type of distraction,
"Coach Belichick does an excellent job of telling us to ignore the noise each and every week," Mayo continued, "..and I think we did our talking on the field tonight."
Rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes enjoyed his first career interception by picking off a pass intended for Jets receiver Braylon Edwards in the third quarter near the goal line. This was one of three interceptions thrown by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez, who seemed to have luck on his side leading up to this game, struggled throughout the game. He completed just 17 of 33 passes for 164 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and was sacked once.
The Patriots defense suffocated any form of the Jets' attempts to gain momentum through the passing game allowing a season low 164 gross yards through the air. Rookie Devin McCourty had another outstanding game and is quickly developing into a prime shutdown corner for the defense,
Mayo praised the development of the rookie from Rutgers who picked off another Sanchez pass, the sixth interception for the rookie this season, "He's doing an excellent job. He's always here early in the morning and he stays late and it's really showing on the field."
Looking Forward: The Chicago Bears
Sitting atop the league with a 10-3 record after defeating some of the strongest teams in the league, it would be easy to assume that the Patriots are taking next week's match up against the Chicago Bears with such ease.
Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler is finally finding his groove in Chicago and has been playing his best football so far and his team should not be overlooked. They are 9-3 and the Patriots and Falcons are the only other teams that hold a better record.
As far as match ups are concerned, Cutler will have to beware of decisions when to throw deep passes as cornerback Devin McCourty and safety James Sanders have found a good rhythm in getting ahead of the pass. The Bears defense will pose a threat for Tom Brady as defensive end Julius Peppers will be itching to catch any form of weakness in the pocket protection. With the way the offensive line performed against the Jets, Steelers and Colts, Brady should be able to have plenty of time in the pocket.
The Bears will not hand this game to the Patriots so easily and do not expect it to be as much of dominance as when the Patriots faced the Jets. the Bears have built momentum and the Patriots are still fighting to secure their number one spot in the AFC East.
The Patriots are set to face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday, December 12, 2010.
Kick off is set for 4:15 p.m est.
Kisha Tapangan is a contributing writer for PatriotsInsider.com She also maintains her personal blog Necessary Roughness and can be found on Twitter @KishaT. Be sure to check back for regular updates by Kisha
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