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Snap Judgments: Patriots 37, Jets 16

11.13.11 at 11:54 pm ET
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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.

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