Will Jets give Pats DBs stiffest test yet?
|11.30.10 at 6:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Resiliency is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days in sports. It’s the catch-all phrase to describe players and teams that overcome some sort of adversity to come out on top.
It applies to teams that deal with hurdles in the middle of the season, only to have key players make key plays at key moments on the way to a successful season.
Now, the 9-2 New York Jets invade Gillette Stadium, having survived a remarkable stretch of games in which they walked the tightrope, only to find a way not to fall off from building to building.
“It’s the same as every other week,” Patriots corner back Kyle Arrington said. “There’s a lot on the line right now, of course. We all know that. First place in the AFC. It’s a big week, don’t take me wrong. But we have to take it just like any other game.”
It applies to individuals who endure hardship, only to find a way to come out on top and prove their true worth to their team.
For the New York Jets – and in particular – their passing game, both of the above apply. The New York Jets were shutout by the Green Bay Packers, 9-0, at home back in a frightening display of anemic offense on Halloween. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was 16-of-38 for 256 yards and two interceptions.
The numbers don’t show the Jets as a fearsome passing attack as Mark Sanchez is in the lower-half of quarterback rating in the NFL (22nd at 81.9) and the Jets rank 13th in total passing yards. But ask Arrington, Devin McCourty and the rest of the Patriots secondary and they’ll tell you this receiving corps of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller will test them as much or more than they’ve been tested all season.
[Click here to read how Devin McCourty has already become one of the best CBs in the NFL and Pats history.]
Following their Halloween disaster, they were in the midst of suffering another humiliation – down 20-10 to the Lions in Detroit before turning on the – pardon the horrifically bad pun – Jets. Sanchez turned from goal to hero when he led the team back, throwing for 336 and running for a fourth-quarter touchdown that brought his team within three, 20-17. The Jets won, 23-20, in overtime.
“He’s a big play maker,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Holmes. “[He’s] fast, quick, good routes, runs well after the catch, complements Braylon well because Braylon’s a big, physical, downfield receiver and Holmes is fast, quick [and] has very good route running ability. He can get down the field, but he can also run short-intermediate routes, run after the catch [and] do all those things. They’re both big threats, big-play guys.”
After serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy to begin the year,
Holmes returned for the Jets’ fifth game of the season and has been an impact player ever since, recording a pair of last-minute, game-winning TD’s in the month of November.
“He’s dynamic,” Arrington said of Holmes, the perfect complimentary receiver to Edwards. “He’s not only quick, he’s fast, a great route-runner, great after the catch. We’re going to have our hands full. It’s never easy in this league with these offenses. Santonio just adds another dynamic, makes them that much more dynamic in the passing game.”
After surviving the Lions, a week later they led in Cleveland, 20-13 late, only to have the Browns tie the game and force overtime. With only eight seconds separating themselves from a very bad tie, Sanchez found Holmes for a quick out pattern that Holmes turned into the game-winning touchdown.
Arrington is known as one of the best and most articulate talkers in the Patriots locker room. Once this season, he was actually encouraged to be a little less loquacious with reporters and took the week off from talking. But if there’s one player in the home locker room at Gillette who can appreciate Jets coach Rex Ryan, it’s Arrington.
“That’s just their M-O,” Arrington said of Sexy Rexy’s animated way with the media. “It starts from the top, down. Rex is very outgoing. They don’t have a problem with that. I guess we’re more of an internal team. Every team has its own personality.”
On Nov. 14, at home against Houston, the Jets fell behind after blowing a 23-7 lead and watched as their fans – in droves – left the Meadowlands. Then Sanchez found Holmes for another game-winning pass and catch with 10 seconds left in regulation. Jets win, 30-27.
“Resiliency, because they’ve been in a lot of sticky situations,” Arrington said when asked to describe the Jets. “They’ve had to come back. One game they were down with 45 seconds left and no timeouts and came back threw a touchdown, game-winning drive by Mark. The team, in general, is resilient. They’ve been in a lot of tough situations that they’ve had to overcome. So, that definitely shows character and good coaching on their part. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
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