I really can’t stress how important Sunday’s win was for the Patriots.
For the first time in over a year, the Patriots were actually underdogs. They were counted out. “Analysts” across the country were taking the Jets, stating that they were now the team to beat.
The Jets the team to beat? Wow. What people seem to forget is that the Patriots have a great team. While losing thier best player will obviously hurt, they are good enough, in my opinion, to still get by.
However, for some reason, a lot of people didn’t understand this, and they were very surprised when the Patriots went in and crushed the Jets. Hopefully, you weren’t surprised. I know that I wasn’t.
At times, the defense looked a little soft around the edges, but they really seemed to settle in, limiting the Jets to two field goal attempts in the first half. The defense has had two great goal line stands already this year. The first was the Chiefs’ final drive in week one, and the second was when the Jets had first and goal on the three, trailing 6-0 in the first half Sunday. The entire front seven has been unstoppable so far. The Patriots are shutting down runners up the middle, and have gotten a great rush as well. Richard Seymour and Ty Warren have been particularly dominant on the line thus far, while big Vince Wilfork continues to be one of the most consistent and dominating leaders on the team.
The linebackers have also been great. Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel look like superstars on the outside, while Bruschi has really surprised me with his big play so far. Rookie Jerod Mayo has played every snap on defense this year; yes, every single snap.
The secondary has also been solid. Ellis Hobbs has had two terrific games, and could be looking at a break-out season. Lewis Sanders and Deltha O’Neal have been very solid. I think that O’Neal is going to go down as one of Belichick’s best pick-ups. While James Sanders has struggled a bit, Brandon Meriweather keeps playing better and better (and has played some CB as well). Rodney Harrison literally looks like he’s reversed his age by 10 years. He is playing some determined football, running around the field like a torpedo.
The “game-winning” 20 yard sack in the fourth quarter by Adalius Thomas has to go down as one of the biggest sacks in Patriots’ history. It was ferocious. A.T. took down two players, as he practically drove Favre and Leon Washington into the endzone. If the Patriots really do have another great year, this sack may go down as the season’s defining moment. If you doubt the impact of this sack, look at the picture in the previous post, and you’ll know why it was so big.
Offensively, the Patriots had a solid game against the Jets. The Patriots had five scoring drives. However, only one of those drives resulted in a touchdown. That is probably something Belichick will work on this week.
The running game was kind of inconsistent, but it had its moments. Sammy Morris and Laurence Maroney struggled. Maroney was ineffective, and left the game with a leg injury (he came back for one snap in the fourth quarter). Morris did score a touchdown, but had a tough time getting through holes (however, he was great in the passing game, so I’ll give him a break). Kevin Faulk, coming back from suspension, did a remarkable job. He had four huge receptions for fifty yards, helping to take pressure off Matt Cassel. LaMont Jordan was great. He didn’t really play in the first half, but was a workhorse in the fourth quarter. He is a really great north-south runner, will break tackles, and can surprise you with his agility and burst through the hole. I think it is going to be too hard to keep him on the bench, and he will see more and more time as the year goes on.
Matt Cassel was efficient, and that was all the Patriots needed. Cassel went 16-23 with no interceptions. He managed the game well, and was error free. He moved around the pocket well, made the play when we needed it, and delivered some solid throws. While he had a couple of bad throws, if he keeps up his solid play, there won’t be many people complaining.
While Randy Moss wasn’t overly effective, it had to do with the Jets’ gameplan more than anything. They put their best cornerback, Darrelle Revis on him, and then rolled a safety over the top to double team him. With Moss double teamed, Cassel looked towards Wes Welker, who made seven catches. Welker’s involvement in the short passing game should be a huge factor again this season. I would also watch the development of the chemistry between Cassel and tight end David Thomas. I understand that Watson has been out, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the tight end so far. He could become a big factor down the seams, and in the mid-range passing game.
The o-line was handled pretty well by the Jets line. Cassel was sacked five times, which was not a good indication of the line playing well. There also weren’t many holes for the backs to run through, which was a main factor in Morris’ struggles. Billy Yates, however, seemed to be a bright spot, which is something fans should keep their eyes on.
Overall, solid game, and a big one for team morale. I’m looking forwards to next week against the Dolphins.
OFFENSE: Kevin Faulk, RB, #33
Faulk really showed his importance to the Patriots by flahing his skillset in both the receiving and running game. He helped take a lot of pressure off Matt Cassel by making great runs after the catch.
DEFENSE: Adalius Thomas, OLB, #96
This was a toss-up between Thomas and Mayo, but I give the nod to Thomas just because of the sack. I can’t say enough about it. It was that rediculous.