Aerial attack appears unstoppable
the Patriots nor the Jets had the first quarter of the season they
wanted leading into Sunday afternoon's key AFC East battle at Gillette
The big difference is that New England
enters the game with a 3-1 record, tied atop the division with the
upstart Bills, the only team to defeat the Patriots to date.
New York on the other hand, has dropped consecutive games to fall to
2-2. Not exactly the type of momentum that Rex Ryan was hoping to have
as he prepares his team for a trip to New England.
Neither New York nor New England looks to have a championship-caliber
defense. The only thing that has the Patriots rolling is the ridiculous
numbers that Tom Brady and the team's passing attack are putting up.
Brady obviously deserves much of the credit. He's thrown for 1,553
yards in four games with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions,
compiling a 111.3 passer rating. He's on pace to break the
single-season NFL records for both yards and touchdowns.
The reigning league MVP has picked up where he
left off and then some.
But as good as Brady has been, a big reason for that success has been
the dominant play of diminutive slot receiver Wes Welker.
Welker took full advantage of Oakland's banged-up secondary in Sunday's
31-19 win over the Raiders to put up nine catches for 158 yards and a
touchdown. Over the last two weeks, Welker has 25 receptions for 375
yards and three touchdowns. For the season, he leads the league in
catches (40) and 616 receiving yards (616), and he is tied for second
with five touchdown grabs.
In fact, even for a guy
who had three consecutive 100-catch seasons in his first three years
with New England, Welker is simply on another level right now.
"Nothing surprises me with Wes. He's the heart and soul of this team,"
Brady said in Oakland after his second straight game with more than
half of his completions going to Welker. "He's been that way since the
day he got here. He works his tail off. He's a great player, a great
teammate. He's really become a dynamic player over the years. He's made
some huge plays for us. He's awesome."
a true No. 1 receiver right now, Welker may get the compliment the Jets
pay to all No. 1 receivers -- a day lined up opposite Darrelle Revis.
So far no one has stopped Welker and the Patriots' high powered passing
attack. That's the challenge for Ryan, Revis and the rest of the Jets.
LINEUP WATCH: With Jerod Mayo expected to miss at least a few weeks
with a reported MCL injury, there will be a scramble to fill a big void
in the Patriots' linebacking corps. Mayo, an All-Pro, is really New
England's only every-down linebacker. He's the primary play-caller and
a defensive co-captain. His roles likely will be split between Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton and Dane Fletcher.
NUMBERS: 13 -- Consecutive games, dating back to last season, in which
Tom Brady has thrown two or more touchdown passes. The streak ties the
NFL record set by Peyton Manning in 2004. Brady will be looking to
break the record in Sunday's matchup with CB Darrelle Revis and the
--OT Sebastian Vollmer missed his second
consecutive game and third of the season with a back injury. Vollmer,
who had back surgery in college at Houston, played in Week 2 but
otherwise has been out of action early in the year.
--CB Ras-I Dowling, a rookie second-round pick who was often injured in
his days at Virginia, missed his second straight game with a hip injury.
--DT Mike Wright missed his third straight game with a concussion.
Wright ended last season on injured reserve due to the effects of a
--TE Aaron Hernandez missed his second game in a
row due to a reported strained MCL.
--DL Albert Haynesworth missed his second straight game with a back
injury. Haynesworth practiced Wednesday, but he wasn't able to go the
rest of the week or make the trip to Oakland.
Leigh Bodden missed his first game of the season, unable to make it to
the field against Oakland due to a groin injury despite practicing on a
limited basis all week.
--QB Ryan Mallett was the only healthy scratch
among New England's inactives against the Raiders.
--WR Taylor Price was active for the first time this season and just
the second time in his two-year New England career after being drafted
in the third round in 2010.
--LB Jerod Mayo left the
first half of Sunday's game at Oakland with a reported medial
collateral ligament injury and did not return.
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