|Snap Judgments: Patriots 30, Jets 21||10.09.11 at 7:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO —The Patriots moved to 4-1 on the season Sunday, using a career effort from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, another 300-yard passing game from Tom Brady (and another 100-yard receiving game from Wes Welker) and the best defensive performance of the season to defeat the Jets, 30-21. The Patriots — who are tied with the Bills for first in the AFC East — will host the Cowboys next Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the dominant player on the Patriots’ opening TD drive, picking up 30 yards on six carries and dragging Sione Puoha into the end zone on his three-yard TD rush. Green-Ellis picked up his second TD of the game in the third quarter, capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive with another three-yard score. Green-Ellis, who finished the game with a career-high 136 yards on 27 carries, has 18 rushing TDs since the start of the 2010 season, most in the NFL. Green-Ellis also carried the Patriots in what was the most important drive of the game, picking up a pair of first downs (including a third-and-4 rush) to kill the clock in the final minutes of the game following a Santonio Holmes TD.
– Oft-maligned (and correctly so), the Patriots defense was solid against a mediocre Jets offense (particularly in the first three quarters). Through the first four games, the Patriots had held opponents to a total of eight three-and-outs. On Sunday the Jets had seven three-and-outs. Mark Sanchez threw for just 144 yards on 26 pass attempts, and the Jets could only manage 13 first-downs. The Patriots had allowed 488 yards of offense per game in the first four weeks. Sunday? 241 yards. As the year goes on this might turn out to be more an indictment of Sanchez and the Jets, but the Patriots defense had its strongest effort of the year on Sunday.
– Though he was often covered by Darrelle Revis, Wes Welker again topped the 100-yard receiving mark. His 740 yards through five games is the most in NFL history. Welker’s biggest catch of the game came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, as Brady used play-action to fool Eric Smith just enough and hit Welker over the middle for a 73-yard catch (Welker was caught from behind and tackled by Revis) on a drive that ended with a Deion Branch TD. Welker also returned a punt for 25 yards at the end of the third quarter.
– Tom Brady — facing a fairly consistent pass rush — completed 22-of-36 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown. Brady has now passed for at least one TD in 21 straight games and has 275 TD passes in his career, tied with Vinny Testaverde for eighth all-time (Brady has thrown 159 fewer INTs than Testaverde).
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Aaron Hernandez — out since Week 2 with a sprained MCL — returned (though he did leave the game after re-injuring the left knee in the first half) and drew a pair of pass interference calls in the opening quarter, but he had a costly end-zone drop on the final play of the first half, as Brady’s pass deflected off the hands of the wide-open tight end and into the arms of Antonio Cromartie, turning what would have been a 17-7 halftime lead into a 10-7 game.
– Kick coverage — a very strong group for the first four weeks — allowed an 88-yard return to Joe McKnight following the Branch TD. The Jets took advantage of the short field, putting together a three-play, 20-yard drive that ended with a Jeremy Kerley TD catch.
– Brady was sacked four times on Sunday (as many sacks as the Patriots had allowed in the first four games). Some of it was a product of blitzing from the Jets’ secondary, but Thomas Welch was beat by Westerman (who had two sacks) on a third-quarter sack and Logan Mankins struggled against Mike DeVito.
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