|11.14.11 at 10:11 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ 37-16 win over the Jets on Sunday. Esiason praised a New England defense that was patched together before and throughout the game Sunday in order to compensate for injuries that decimated the lineup, but he placed much of the blame for the Jets’ loss on quarterback Mark Sanchez, who once again failed to step up during an appearance on prime-time television.
“A lot of it I think has to do with the opposing team’s quarterback who’s afraid to pull the trigger, it looks like to me right now,” Esiason said. “There are times where you just have to take chances. You have to throw the ball and go let your playmakers make a play for you. When you happen to have Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes on the field with you, and Dustin Keller for that matter, and you’re afraid to pull the trigger, you want to see guys completely wide open, you’re going to ask for problems.
“I thought that Mark Sanchez last night, even though he threw for over 300 yards, he just is not ready to be that prime-time player that we all thought that he was going to be by this time.”
Esiason said the Jets’ decisions on offense at the end of the first half were especially mystifying considering Tom Brady and the New England offense’s reputation. Sanchez and the Jets had the ball with under five minutes to play in the half and the Patriots holding a 6-2 lead. The Jets marched 63 yards while running the clock down to 1:24, then called a timeout on the New England 2-yard line. Sanchez then rushed the two yards for the touchdown, but he handed the ball over to the Patriots with 1:20 remaining in the half.
Brady and the Patriots offense made good use of the time the Jets allowed them, running a no-huddle offense and driving 80 yards in 1:11 for a touchdown that allowed the Patriots to head into the break with a 13-9 lead.
“To call a timeout at the end of the first half and to leave too much time on the clock for Tom Brady and this offense, the mindset going into a game against Tom Brady, even though their offense hasn’t been clicking the previous two weeks, the danger is always there,” Esiason said. “So the thought process is, is that OK, let’s be effective with our offense in a couple of ways. One, let’s score a touchdown, of course. Two, let’s use the clock to our advantage and try to eat up as much time as we possibly can and not give them the ball back, especially in a situation where he goes no-huddle and he can carve you up like he did.”
|11.14.11 at 4:21 am ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A funny thing happened on the way to sure disaster for the Patriots defense.
It ran into an inept Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense Sunday night, and found an identity.
So, instead of curling up in a little ball when Patrick Chung was a last-minute scratch with a foot/ankle injury and Brandon Spikes was out with a knee injury, the Patriots fought back with the likes of Sterling Moore, Jeff Tarpinian, Philip Adams and Tracy White.
Andre Carter had a franchise-record 4.5 sacks. Rob Ninkovich turned back the clock to 2010 against the Dolphins with a pair of interceptions — including a game-sealing “Pick-6″ — and Moore and linebacker White filled in on defense as the Patriots hammered the Jets, 37-16.
“It’s no different, really,” Moore said of starting for Chung, who’s injured right foot wouldn’t allow him to play Sunday. “I prepared all week like I was going to start, so to me, it was just another game. I mean, I’m just glad that my coaches and teammates had confidence in me out there to give me that shot.”
There was a lot of joking in the upbeat Patriots locker room afterward that the Jets were asking themselves on the field what everyone on TV was asking: Who are these guys?
“I didn’t hear any of it,” Moore said. “I try not to pay attention to any of it. I didn’t hear too much of it. Plaxico (Burress) did talk a little bit, but it wasn’t too much.”
The key for Moore on Sunday were the reps he got during the week in practice.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised, just because I was taking all the first team reps during the week,” Moore said. “They were telling me all week to be prepared. I knew I had a real good shot at starting, so I did my best during the week to prepare for that.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing as he drilled his own teammate — Devin McCourty — with shot to the shoulder that left McCourty with an injured shoulder in the second quarter. He left and did not return.
“I apologized,” Moore said. “That’s my fault. I probably owe him a dinner or something for that.”
Moore has been Mr. Everything to the Patriots secondary in practice.
“Probably three or four weeks,” Moore said when asked how long he had been playing and practicing safety with the Patriots. “Between that, corner and nickel. When I got here, they told me, ‘We’re going to need you everywhere.’ They told me to learn all three spots, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Who are these guys? They’re players that found a way to pull together and produce a win that has the Patriots all by themselves atop the AFC East.
|11.14.11 at 2:26 am ET|
He was just concerned with the fact that the Jets had somehow grabbed a 9-6 lead and momentum of a game that had no rhythm. He knew that if the Patriots could get their offensive swagger back before halftime they’d be in great shape.
“It was definitely a very important drive,” Gronkowski said of the six-play, 80-yard drive that took 71 seconds. “We were up. We had to go into halftime and put some points up.”
Gronkowski had three of his eight catches on the night on that drive, including an 18-yarder in the end zone as he went head over heels to hold on.
Thanks to the up-tempo drive that put the Pats up, 13-9, with nine seconds to go in the half, the Patriots had the momentum.
“It just went faster,” Gronkowski said. “Everyone has to be on their toes when we’re going that fast. It was good execution. That’s what we’ve got to be doing the whole game.”
Earlier in the game, Gronkowski watched as Chad Ochocinco got deep on a blown Jets’ coverage for a 53-yard connection, his longest with the Patriots this season. It set up the second Stephen Gostkowski field goal of the night. Ocho finished with two catches and 65 yards.
“He’s doing a great job, he’s practicing real hard,” Gronk said while Ochocinco was dressing next to him in the locker room. “He’s cool.”
Gronkowski finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He was so big that the Jets put their best defender — Darrelle Revis — on him in the second half.
“He’s a great player and it’s a great challenge going up against Revis,” Gronkowski said. “I just have to run my route the way they teach me to run my route in practice, run it correctly.”
Now the Patriots have sole possession of first place, but Gronk downplayed it afterward.
“We’re not even looking at that now, man,” the tight end said. “There’s seven games left. It was definitely a big win. You’ve got to win the road games. It was huge. It was for first place in the division but we have many more to keep going.”
As for the 11 targets by Brady, many will naturally assume that Gronk is clearly Brady’s favorite target. Not so fast.
“There’s a lot of guys that are main targets for him,” Gronk said. “Everyone is playing great. You never know who’s going to be the main target that game. You never know what the coverage is going to be. You just have to be prepared for every coverage every game.
“He just hits the open man. That’s what he looks for. A lot of receivers are getting open, Aaron’s getting open, running backs are getting open. He just hits the open man.”
And no one was more open that Gronkowski on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
|11.14.11 at 1:03 am ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For the Patriots, the key moment in Sunday’s win over the Jets came at the end of the first half. With New England in a 9-6 hole because of a safety taken by quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots responded with a six-play, 80-yard drive that took 1:11 and ended with an 18-yard pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski deep over the middle that gave New England a 13-9 advantage.
Gronkowski finished with eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the win, but his work on that drive — where he accounted for 55 of the 80 total yards — was immense in giving the Patriots a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
‘It was a very important drive,’ Gronkowski said. ‘They were up, and we had to go back into halftime and put some points up. We had about a minute and a half, and everyone did well. Everyone executed well. It was a good overall drive.’
‘I think we put players out there we think that can produce when they get the opportunity,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘Rob got some chances tonight, and he made them count. But other guys have done that too. Wes [Welker], Deion [Branch], [Danny Woodhead] Chad Johnson, Ocho, whoever, pick one. They’ve all had their chances and we feel like they can all be productive.’
With the win, the Patriots move into sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
‘It was definitely a big win,’ Gronkowski said. ‘Coming on the road, you have to win road games. It was huge. It was for first place in the division, but we have many more games. We have to take them one game at a time… but it was definitely a big victory.’
|11.13.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
The Patriots went into MetLife Stadium and pounded the Jets on Sunday night, getting three TD passes from Tom Brady, two INTs and a TD from Rob Ninkovich and a career effort from Andre Carter in a 37-16 victory that puts New England back in sole possession of first place in the AFC East and snaps a two-game losing streak.
The Patriots (6-3) will host the Chiefs next Monday night.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Rob Ninkovich was the standout performer in a standout performance by the Patriots linebackers. Ninkovich had a pair of interceptions, including a fourth-quarter, 12-yard TD pick that gave the Patriots a 37-16 lead that put the game away. Ninkovich jumped in front of LaDainian Tomlinson on the Mark Sanchez pass (with help from Tracy White, who flattened Dustin Keller) and converted the pick-six.
— Andre Carter was an absolute game-changer for the Patriots, picking up 4.5 sacks (a franchise record) and several other pressures on Mark Sanchez. Carter — who now has 9.0 sacks on the season, more than any Patriots player in 2010 — manhandled rookie Matthew Mulligan on third down to end the Jets’ second drive and was untouched (the Jets O-Line seemed distracted by a Jerod Mayo blitz) on his second sack, a second-quarter takedown of Sanchez. He bullied D’Brickashaw Ferguson on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter to collect his final two sacks. As big a bust as Albert Haynesworth was for this team — and he was a complete misfire — Carter has been a savior for this group.
— Rob Gronkowski had a pair of TD catches for the Patriots, as the Jets had no one to match up with the tight end. Gronkowski (eight catches, 113 yards) blew right past Eric Smith for an 18-yard TD at the end of the first half (capping the six-play, 80-yard drive) and hauled in a four-yard TD on a slant to give the Patriots a 23-9 lead in the third quarter. Gronkowski now has eight TDs on the season, second only to Calvin Johnson among all NFL players. Gronkowski had another TD catch (third quarter) wiped out after it was correctly ruled that he had stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Is there any question that this is the best tight end in the NFL right now?
— Tom Brady was up-and-down in the first half (made many of the same questionable decisions and throws we saw last week vs. the Giants) but was brilliant in the final 30 minutes, finishing the game with 329 yards on 26-of-39 passing and three TDs. Brady is now over 3,000 yards passing on the season and his 23 TD passes rank second in the NFL to Aaron Rodgers (24).
— The defense was outstanding — particularly when the injuries to Brandon Spikes, Pat Chung and Devin McCourty are considered — in holding the Jets to just 16 points. Third-down defense was key, as the Jets were successful on just five-of-13 attempts.
— Niko Koutouvides came through on special teams, recovering a Joe McKnight fumble on a third-quarter fumble at the Jets’ 11. The Patriots would turn the fumble recovery into a Gostkowksi field-goal.
— Chad Ochocinco makes his debut in the “What Went Right” category, hauling in a pair of passes on the second field-goal drive of the first half, including a 53-yard catch-and-run off of what appeared to be blown coverage from Darrelle Revis. Until Sunday night, Ochocinco hadn’t had a game with 53 yards this season.
— A relatively quiet night for Wes Welker (six catches, 46 yards), but he did catch his 500th pass with the Patriots in his 70th game with the club. No player has made 500 receptions with one team as quickly as Welker has with New England.
— Stephen Gostkowski converted all three field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter on the drive following the missed 24-yard attempt by Nick Folk. Gostkowski is now 5-of-7 in his career on attempts of 50 yards or more.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Devin McCourty struggled early, giving up catches to Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Holmes again on the opening drive. He was also bailed out on a very shaky PI call against Burress, which took away what would have been a first-down catch on 3rd-and-14 in the second quarter. McCourty would later leave the game with a shoulder injury (and did not return), an injury that occurred when Sterling Moore drilled him in an attempt to tackle Burress (Moore was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play, a bogus call).
— BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a career outing vs. the Jets in Week 5 — 136 yards on 27 carries — but was a non-factor on Sunday, finishing with just eight yards on eight carries. The Patriots weren’t able to gain much consistency on the ground, picking up only 61 yards on 27 carries. The Jets, conversely, had a very solid running attack, gaining 110 yards on 25 carries, including 61 yards on 13 carries from Shonne Greene.
|11.13.11 at 10:11 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Two quarters are in the books at MetLife Stadium and the Patriots hold a 13-9 lead. Here are a few quick notes.
Two of the first-half stars for the Patriots? Chad Ochocinco (two catches for 65 yards) and Andre Carter (2.5 sacks, as well as forcing Mark Sanchez into a bad intentional grounding situation), both of whom have sparked New England. Brady is 12-for-22 for 194 yards and a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, who has five catches for 79 yards.
Offensively, the Jets failed to convert their first five third-down chances, but picked up a safety with 4:44 left in the second and added a late touchdown on a two-yard scramble from Sanchez (10-for-16 for 137 yards) with 1:20 left in the half to make it 9-6. The Patriots then answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski with nine second left to end the first-half scoring.
The Patriots defense was very impressive throughout much of the first half, stopping New York in the red zone on their first series and getting lucky when Nick Folk missed a 24-yarder. Most of the rest of New York’s first-half drives were slowed by Carter. The Jets could only get to its own 35 on its second drive, one that ended with Carter’s first sack of the night on Sanchez. Carter helped slow New York’s third drive of the night by coming up with another sack when New York’s blocking scheme broke down. It was more of the same on the next sequence, where Carter and Anderson consistently brought good pressure on the Jets’ quarterback.
After New York’s first drive, the Patriots answered with a solid drive of their own that was slowed when they were called for an illegal substitution. The highlight of the series was likely a 12-yard connection to Ochocinco down the New England sideline, a play where the receiver could have had significantly more yardage had he not stepped out of bounds with no one around him. (He did a good job shaking cornerback Antonio Cromartie on the route.) It ended with a 50-yard field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski. On New England’s next drive, it was Ochocinco again, as No. 85 was left wide open on third down for 53 yards to the 17-yard line. That sequence also ended with a Gostkowski field goal, this one coming from 36 yards out that staked the Patriots to a 6-0 lead.
The Jets got on the board with 4:44 left in the half when Jamaal Westerman got to Brady in the end zone. The quarterback flung the ball away and was called for intentional grounding, giving the Jets the safety and making it 6-2. That set the stage for the two late touchdowns.
|11.13.11 at 7:49 pm ET|