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Papa Geno: Jets rookie QB accomplishes rare feat against Bill Belichick defense

10.21.13 at 10:39 am ET
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Geno Smith did something Sunday that no other quarterback has done against the Patriots over the last five seasons.

Rookie quarterbacks are now 4-7 in their last 11 starts against Bill Belichick, but in that span, Smith is the only  signal-caller to win his second game against the Patriots in his rookie season. Previously, Belichick had gotten the better of the first-year players, beating the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Mark Sanchez the second time he faced them when they were rookies. (Dating back to 2004, Belichick also managed to best Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlsberger in the AFC title game after the then-rookie beat the Patriots in the regular season.)

“He played well enough to win today,” Belichick said after the game when asked about Smith. “We’€™ll leave it at that.”

Here’s a look at what the rookies have done against the Patriots in their first season in the league.

2013: EJ Manuel (L): 18-for-27, 150 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Geno Smith (L): 15-for-35, 214 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, sacked four times
Geno Smith (W): 17-for-33, 233 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, sacked four times

2012: Russell Wilson (W): 16-for-27, 293 yards, 3 TD, sacked twice
Andrew Luck (L): 27-for-50, 334 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, sacked once
Ryan Tannehill (L): 13-for-29, 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, sacked three times
Ryan Tannehill (L): 20-for-35, 235 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, sacked seven times

2011: None

2010: Colt McCoy (W): 14-for-19, 174 yards, TD

2009: Mark Sanchez (W): 14-for-22, 163 yards, TD
Sanchez (L): 8-for-21, 136 yards, TD, 4 INT, sacked two times
Josh Freeman* (L): 2-for-4, 16 yards, sacked two times
* Freeman replaced ineffective Josh Johnson midway through fourth quarter

Smith followed the blueprint set down by the rookies who beat the Patriots the first time around:

‘€¢ He wasn’t statistically overwhelming but managed (with one exception) to stay away from turnovers. Smith was a relatively pedestrian 17-for-33 for 233 yards, with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. The one pick he threw was relatively early and returned for a touchdown, his worst error of the day. But all in all, he did an excellent job managing the game, moving the chains nicely (the Jets were 11-for-21 on third down) and keeping his team in positive-yardage situations. (His pick marked the first time a rookie quarterback threw an interception against Belichick and managed to come out of the game with a win.)

‘€¢ He was smart enough to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Wide receivers Jeremy Kerley (eight catches on 10 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown) and David Nelson (four catches on seven targets for 80 yards) and running back Chris Ivory (a whopping 34 carries for 104 yards) did the bulk of the work for Smith. Ivory’s performance marked the first time all season that an opposing running back topped 100 yards.

‘€¢ He had the good fortune to be playing at home. No rookie quarterback — in his first or second start in his initial year in the league — has ever beaten Belichick in Foxboro over the last decade. From Smith to Wilson (2012) to McCoy (2010) to Sanchez (2009) to Roethlisberger (2004), all were away from Foxboro when they beat Belichick and the Patriots.

‘€¢ And while the point total may cause folks to disagree, he did get a very good situational performance out of his defense. The Jets held the Patriots to 1-for-12 on third down, Brady failed to complete at least 50 percent of his passes for the second time in three games, New England was held under 100 yards on the ground, and the Patriots were held without a touchdown for the last 35 minutes of the game.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Geno Smith,

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘Nobody to blame but ourselves’

10.21.13 at 9:43 am ET
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Tom Brady made his weekly Patriots Monday appearance on Dennis & Callahan to talk about Sunday’s overtime loss to the Jets.

The game ended on an overtime field goal from Jets kicker Nick Folk, who was given a second chance after a penalty on Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones for pushing a teammate into the line. The rule is new this year, but Brady said the team was aware of it.

“Yeah, I did know the rule. I didn’t obviously see the play or see what they called. I still really haven’t seen the replay,” Brady said. “But it really shouldn’t have come down to that. We had plenty of other opportunities in the game to score points and really widen the gap that we had on them at halftime. We sputtered in the third quarter and fought back in the fourth quarter and had some chances at the end, got the ball to start overtime. So, there’s nobody to blame but ourselves.

“It’s a frustrating day. It’s a frustrating day losing. But hopefully we can learn from it and be a lot better this week.”

Added Brady: “It was just one of those plays that was just unfortunate to happen. Chris has been playing his butt off all year. He never intended for something like that to happen. Look, it shouldn’t even have come down to that. We on offense should have scored a lot more points and played a lot better. If we do that, it doesn’t come down to a play like that.”

The Patriots were leading 21-10 at the half but were outscored 17-0 in the third quarter, including a pass Brady threw that was intercepted and run back 23 yards for a Jets touchdown.

“There’s not really one thing. It’s just a lack of overall execution in the run game and the pass game,” Brady said. “You can’t go through quarters and do that. You have to be consistent, and we have to play consistently throughout the game. Because if you have quarters where you don’t really produce anything on offense, you really leave the defense out to dry.

“With the three-and-outs that we had, and certainly the interception returned for a touchdown, and the three-and-out following that, and the three-and-out following that — you really need to be perfect after that. We were trying, we just didn’t make enough plays to overcome what our difficulties were there in the third quarter.”

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Read More: Antonio Allen, Chris Jones, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

Quick Hits: Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Patriots’ 30-27 OT loss to Jets

10.20.13 at 8:26 pm ET
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Read More: Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

Rob Gronkowski: ‘I’m mad at myself’ for fourth-quarter drop

10.20.13 at 7:09 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — By all accounts, Rob Gronkowski made a successful return to the playing field Sunday.

Playing for the first time since three offseason surgeries on his left forearm and a back surgery, Gronkowski caught eight passes on 17 targets from Tom Brady, gained 114 yards and even hauled in a patented 30-yard seam route that set up New England’s first touchdown.

But it was the pass he didn’t haul in that will give him nightmares.

With the Patriots driving for the potential game-winning touchdown at the New York 26, Brady saw Gronkowski behind the defense all alone on a first-down play. Brady put the ball in a spot only Gronkowski could reach. The tight end got a firm right hand on the ball and appeared to bring it down into his body for a catch.

But Gronkowski lost control and it fell to the ground for an incompletion with 30 seconds remaining. Three plays later, the Patriots settled for a 44-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. The Patriots would fall in overtime, 30-27.

“I’m mad at myself,” Gronkowski said. “I had it. I brought it in, then I dropped it. I have to work there hard in practice. I have to catch more balls in practice.”

Gronkowski also had another chance at a touchdown earlier, but he appeared to lose a Brady pass at the goal line in the sun.

“I didn’t see the ball at all, but that’s no excuse,” Gronkowski said. “You have to be prepared for situations like that. I have to do a better job there. It was a nice throw and could have been a great play.

“We moved the ball well at times. But you have to move the ball well at all times. We have to make more plays. Personally, I have to come down with some of those passes. I could have had some of them, and I have to catch them in the future.”

But overall, no one could complain about the clear impact Gronkowski had on the offense. Brady could see how much the passing game opened up with No. 87 back on the field in uniform.

“Oh, of course,” Brady said. “He’s one of the best players in the NFL. You saw what he did today. It’s his first game back. All of us have to do a better job.”

As for Gronk himself?

“I feel good,” he said. “I just have to keep working hard every week. I have a lot to improve on. It’s football and you’re running around a lot so, yes, you get fatigued. That’s something I have to work on in practice and get my conditioning up.”

Read More: Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl, Rob Gronkowski

Chris Jones: ‘It was my mistake … I have to man up’

10.20.13 at 6:19 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — Referee Jerome Boger explained the unsportsmanlike penalty call on Chris Jones on the 56-yard missed field goal attempt by Nick Folk that resulted in a second chance for the Jets and led to the game-winning 44-yard field goal in overtime in New York’s 30-27 win Sunday.

Jones was called for pushing teammate Will Svitek into the Jets line of scrimmage.

“It was something we talked about in camp and it just skipped out of my mind,” Jones said. “It was my mistake and nobody else’s. I just have to man up to it and fix it next time. I was just trying to get that extra little umph in the middle, to get up there.

“I was confused at first. I didn’t know what was going on. I figured out what it was and that was my fault. We still had more football to play so I had to get rid of it real quick. We talked about it before. It probably slipped my mind. Now I know it. I just have to use it for upcoming weeks so I don’t make that mistake again. It’s tough.”

Boger was interviewed by pool reporter Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.

Q: Please explain the penalty that was called on No. 94 (Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones) on the field goal attempt.
A: The call was that No. 94 on the defense pushed his teammate into the formation. That is a rule change for 2013 that a teammate cannot push a teammate into the opponents’ formation

Q: Is it any type of push? Is it a two-handed push?
A: Any push. It could be with the body, not necessarily with the hand, but with the body into his teammate, into the formation. It’s any type of pushing action.

Q: Is there anything else to go over with this penalty?
A: No, the umpire’s flag went up almost instantaneously as he observed the action. We just enforced it as he called it.

Q: And that’s a 15-yard penalty?
A: For unsportsmanlike conduct.

Read More: Chris Jones, Jerome Boger, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Snap Judgments: Jets shock Patriots in overtime, 30-27

10.20.13 at 4:32 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — Nick Folk delivered a 42-yarder in overtime to help the Jets shock the Patriots 30-27 Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

The field goal came after Folk missed a 56-yarder, but got a second chance after Patriots’ rookie Chris Jones was flagged for pushing his own player into the pile. The 15-yard penalty gave the Jets another chance they took advantage of.

After the game Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he disputed that Jones’ push came in the second-level of defenders, which would necessitate an infraction.

New England jumped to a 21-10 advantage, but New York struck back with an impressive 17-0 run in the third quarter to take command. The Jets took the lead late in the third when Geno Smith scored on an 8-yard scramble to make it 24-21. The Patriots were able to put together a game-tying drive at the end of regulation that ended with a 44-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to knot the game at 24, but that set the stage for Folk’s heroics in overtime.

Smith looked poised and confident much of the afternoon against the Patriots, finishing 17-for-33 for 233 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Tom Brady struggled for part of the afternoon, finishing 22-for-46 for 228 yards with one interception. In his first game action of the year after an offseason of multiple surgeries on his arm and back, tight end Rob Gronkowski ended with eight catches (on 17 targets) for 114 yards.

Here are a few quick notes:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

‘€¢ The Patriots were able to get some pressure on Jets quarterback Smith for most of the afternoon. As was the case the first time around, New England was selective when it brought extra pressure — with a signal-caller like Smith, you want to make sure you don’t overrun the play, because he can pick up extra yards with his feet. (He did on a third-quarter burst where he juked Marquice Cole for an 8-yard run on the way to the end zone.) But for the most part, the defensive front of Chandler Jones, Jones, Joe Vellano, Marcus Forston and Rob Ninkovich — who were in different defensive looks for much of the afternoon — were able to make him uncomfortable in the pocket. The Patriots had four sacks on the afternoon.

‘€¢ Julian Edelman had a couple of impressive punt returns, including a 38-yarder in the first half that set up a touchdown.

‘€¢ Gronkowski return to the field for the first time all season, and looked good out of the gate. The big tight end — who was wearing a big black wrap or sleeve on his left forearm — accounted for 42 of the 80 yards through the air on New England’s first scoring drive of the afternoon. It was evident just how much the Patriots offense missed Gronkowski, who also worked in as a blocker. (It’s worth mentioning that he wasn’t part of the Patriots extra-point team — he was on the end of the line as a blocker when he initially suffered his forearm injury against the Colts last November.)

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€¢ This was not Brady’s finest hour. Coming a week after he led another improbable come back against the Saints, the quarterback struggled at times against the Jets, particularly in the second half. He missed a handful of passes — it was debatable as to whether or not that was on the receivers or the quarterback himself — but they bad connections, nonetheless. His second-half pick six gave the Jets some life when they needed it most.

‘€¢ The Patriots had breakdowns across the board in the third quarter — Brady was getting knocked around, and the Jets were able to get New England into a lot of long-yardage situations, which meant more pressure on the quarterback, particularly off Brady’s blind side. Through that stretch, it was easy to see how the Jets have been able to make their bones as the best first-down defense in the league. They exposed a lot of New England’s weaknesses. On defense, New England was unable to slow down New York on the ground or through the air — Cole and Dont’a Hightower struggled with their responsibilities on a number of occasions, including a missed tackle by Cole at the goal line against Smith. LeGarrette Blount bobbled a kick return attempt, and Josh Cribbs had a nifty 21-yard return, which set up a third-quarter field goal. Just a total team effort.

‘€¢ The defense has to figure out a way to play without Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo — both of whom are out for the rest of the season — and Aqib Talib, who missed this game because of a hip injury. While the Patriots were able to cobble together multiple defensive fronts to disguise the fact that they were without Wilfork, there were breakdowns in pass coverage when it came to Hightower. In addition, even though Logan Ryan was able to come away with a first-half interception of Smith, there were major problems at times in the secondary when it came to penalties, communication and tackling.

Halftime notes: Patriots hold 21-10 lead on Jets

10.20.13 at 2:30 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — After two quarters at MetLife Stadium. the Patriots hold a 21-10 lead on the Jets. Tom Brady is 11-for-18 for 102 yards, while Rob Gronkowski has four catches for 54 yards in his return. On the other side of the ball, Geno Smith is 10-for-18 for 159 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢The Jets got things started early with a 25-yard connection from Smith to Jeff Cumberland, kickstarting an opening drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Jeremy Kerley that made it 7-0 with 9:43 left in the first quarter. New York was 3-for-3 on third downs on its first drive, and on the touchdown pass, it was a well-executed play where cornerback Kyle Arrington played the inside, and Kerley went out.

‘€¢On defense, the Patriots are shuffling up their defensive fronts, trying to disguise some of their deficiencies. They’ve had Chris Jones, Marcus Forston and Joe Vellano up front in a 3-4 with Chandler Jones standing up, and Chris Jones and Vellano as the defensive tackles in a more traditional four-man front that had Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at their traditional defensive end spots.

‘€¢ For New England, the defensive highlight of the first half came late in the first quarter when Patriots rookie cornerback Logan Ryan jumped in front of a Smith pass and took it back 79 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-7 New England. Despite the pick — which marked the 34th straight game the Patriots have forced a takeaway, and the eighth interception of the season — it’s clear the New England secondary is having some issues without Aqib Talib in the lineup. The Jets were able to convert on their first six third-down chances, thanks in large part to impressive pass plays between Smith and his receivers. It’s clear Smith is a better quarterback than what he showed in the Week 2 matchup between the Patriots and Jets in Foxboro.

‘€¢ It’s also clear the offense missed Gronkowski — the big tight end, with a big black wrap on his left arm, accounted for 42 of the 80 yards on the first drive of the game, including a big catch in Jets territory that set up the Patriots first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge for Brandon Bolden that tied the game at seven late in the first quarter. While it’s clear his snaps are being monitored in his first game back (not unlike how the Patriots utilized Danny Amendola in his first game back against the Bengals a couple of weeks ago), his impact is undeniable. He’s consistently drawn double coverage, and his left arm has held up well to this point in the game.

‘€¢ Give Julian Edelman credit for the third touchdown of the day — even though he didn’t catch a pass on the drive, he had a sweet 38-yard punt return that set the Patriots up in excellent position. And thanks to a key third-down penalty against the Jets, New England was able to punch it in on a 17-yard run for Stevan Ridley, his third touchdown of the season. That made it 21-10 late in the second quarter.

‘€¢ There were no major injuries in the first half.

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