Final, Jets 28-21: Bill Belichick just said it best. “We didn’t do enough to win,” he said at his postgame news conference.
The Pats were outplayed in practically every part of the game, and the Jets proved to be the better team in Foxboro on Sunday.
Be sure to check back with NESN.com throughout the night for reaction from both sides as well as analysis from Gillette.
Fourth quarter, 0:23, Jets 28-21: That will close the book on this one. The Patriots’ onside kick is recovered by the Jets, and they’ll take a knee before heading to Pittsburgh.
Fourth quarter, 0:24, Jets 28-21: Well, don’t bury the Patriots just yet. Tom Brady beat the Jets’ prevent defense and hit Deion Branch in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. It’s going to come down to an onside kick and a Hail Mary.
Fourth quarter, 1:41, Jets 28-14: Shonn Greene broke past the right edge after the Patriots’ defense sold out up the middle, and he easily scored from 16 yards out to end this game. This is the Patriots’ second home playoff loss in 53 weeks.
Fourth quarter, 1:52, Jets 21-14: Well, that was basically as bad as an onside kick can get. Antonio Cromartie recovered it after it took a weird bounce in the middle of the scrum and returned it 23 yards to the 25 to set up the Jets in field-goal position. Then, Dane Fletcher was flagged for offsides to give them an extra five yards. So, the Pats need to force a three-and-out and hope the Jets miss a field goal.
Fourth quarter, 1:57, Jets 21-14: Shayne Graham hit a 35-yard field goal from the right hash, and the Patriots still have some hope. Even if they don’t recover the onside kick here, they’ve got two timeouts and would potentially get the ball back with a minute or so remaining in regulation, providing they force a three-and-out of course.
Fourth quarter, 3:29, Jets 21-11: Julian Edelman ripped off a 41-yard punt return to set up the Patriots in New York territory, and the Pats have an inkling of a prayer remaining. They’ve also got two timeouts remaining.
Fourth quarter, 5:15, Jets 21-11: That was one of the most curious drives of the Brady/Belichick era, and it ended with a poor pass from Tom Brady that Deion Branch couldn’t haul in. The Patriots continuously huddled, remained dedicated to the ground game and took their time at the line of scrimmage, and 7:45 came off the clock before the turnover on downs. The Jets take over at their own 34-yard line, and the Patriots have three timeouts.
Fourth quarter, 13:00, Jets 21-11: That was way too easy. The Jets needed just five plays to travel 75 yards, and Santonio Holmes made another otherworldly touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone. The big play came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Jerricho Cotchery ran wide open over the middle and eluded tacklers down the right sideline for 58 yards to set up the Jets at the 13. Three plays later, Sanchez hit Holmes, who was covered by Kyle Arrington. It was a throw that only Holmes could catch, and the Super Bowl hero did just that.
End of third quarter, Jets 14-11: It took nearly 45 minutes for the Patriots to find the end zone, but that score got the Pats back into the game when they looked lifeless. Here, again, is another important drive for the defense.
Third quarter, 0:13, Jets 14-11: And the Patriots have come alive. Tom Brady led a Tom Brady-like, eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, and Sammy Morris took a direct snap in for a two-point conversion. The scoring drive started with a nice 37-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski in the left seam, and it ended with Brady scrambling out of the pocket and throwing a tight pass to Alge Crumpler for a two-yard touchdown. One play earlier, Wes Welker caught a pass over the middle and got blown up by Eric Smith over the middle, which led to some kind of small equipment explosion.
Third quarter, 4:04, Jets 14-3: The Patriots stopped the Jets but lost linebacker Rob Ninkovich to an apparent left knee injury. Ninkovich couldn’t walk off the field and has disappeared into the locker room. He has already torn an ACL once in his career, and this injury doesn’t look good at all. Eric Moore has also left the game after aggravating his hamstring injury. And finally, the Patriots take over at their own 20 after the punt.
Third quarter, 7:35, Jets 14-3: Tom Brady was sacked for the fourth time in the game, losing a fumble in the process, but Alge Crumpler bailed out the Pats yet again. Still, faced with a third-and-22, New England could only get a four-yard pass off to Aaron Hernandez. The Jets have it at their own 25 after Zoltan Mesko’s 50-yard punt.
Third quarter, 10:07, Jets 14-3: The Jets didn’t do a whole lot with their first possession of the half, but they made it clear they weren’t going to gamble with this double-digit lead by running a draw on third-and-5. Rex Ryan is more than happy with this lead, and he’s going to make the Patriots earn everything they get from here on out. With how well the Jets’ defense is playing, that’s a smart strategy from Ryan, who had a terrible game here in Week 13.
Third quarter, 12:23, Jets 14-3: The Patriots got a quick first down on the first play of the half but stalled out three plays later when BenJarvus Green-Ellis got smoked for a one-yard loss on third-and-1. Zoltan Mesko’s punt then trickled into the end zone, and the Jets take over at their own 20.
Third quarter, 14:55, Jets 14-3: Brandon Tate returned the second-half kickoff to the New England 25. It’s also important to note that the Patriots will be going toward the open end of the stadium in the fourth quarter, which will make field goals more difficult.
Halftime, Jets 14-3: There’s no question who was the better team in the first half, but the fact that it was so one-sided has been extremely surprising. The Jets’ defense has completely beaten up and confused Tom Brady, who must erase an 11-point deficit to avoid his third consecutive playoff loss. New York’s offense hasn’t been all that great, but the Jets have had tremendous field position all game, which is another byproduct of the Patriots’ offensive woes. Gillette Stadium is in a state of shock, and the crowd booed the home team off the field at the end of the half.
Second quarter, 0:33, Jets 14-3: This wasn’t how a lot of people expected it to go, nope. Mark Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards on a quick pass to the left side, and Edwards fought off Devin McCourty and Brandon Meriweather to muscle his way into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. With the way Tom Brady has looked against this Jets defense, this 11-point lead looks mighty large for New York.
Second quarter, 1:06, Jets 7-3: The Patriots attempted a fake punt, but Patrick Chung fumbled the snap and couldn’t gain any ground on fourth-and-4, and the Jets get the ball at the New England 37. A bad first half could turn disastrous in these next 66 seconds.
Second quarter, 3:57, Jets 7-3: The Jets moved into New England territory again, but they surprisingly punted on a fourth-and-1 from the 41. New England takes over at its 20 after the ball sailed into the end zone, and this could be a big drive for the Pats’ offense, which has looked out of it since the field goal. Even if they don’t score on this drive, they’ve got to at least develop some kind of rhythm and momentum.
Second quarter, 8:40, Jets 7-3: The Patriots went three-and-out for the second straight possession, and Tom Brady looks all out of whack. He’s been a little gun shy since throwing that interception on the Pats’ initial possession, and it probably hasn’t helped that he’s gotten sacked three times. Brady missed an open Danny Woodhead in the right flat on third-and-2, and the Pats punted away to the Jets.
Second quarter, 10:24, Jets 7-3: Mark Sanchez came alive on that drive, and the Jets finally converted on their fourth trip into New England territory. Sanchez did a nice job to evade a collapsing pocket on a third-and-6 from the Pats’ 45 — it was an interesting formation from the defense, which sent guys around the box but had linebackers Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher over the right tackle — and delivered a strike to Braylon Edwards for a 37-yard gain. Two plays later, Sanchez lobbed an easy one to LaDainian Tomlinson, who caught the ball in the left flat and skated into the end zone.
Second quarter, 12:20, Patriots 3-0: Drew Coleman nearly decapitated Tom Brady on third-and-5, breaking free from Brady’s blind side and taking down the quarterback within a split second. The blitz wasn’t recognized — an understatement on my part — by someone, either Brady or Rob Gronkowski, who lined up on the left side but went into a passing pattern. Coleman got in there so fast I actually initially thought it was a Patriot running a reverse. The Pats are lucky Brady didn’t lose the ball or his melon.
Second quarter, 13:38, Patriots 3-0: Mark Sanchez is having an awful game, and the Patriots keep putting him into passing situations on third down, which is absolutely ideal for them. Sanchez missed two open players on the Jets’ last drive, including Dustin Keller in the left seam on third down, and the Pats take over at their own 20 after the punt.
End of first quarter, Patriots 3-0: The Jets are in Patriots territory for the third consecutive possession, and they’ve been set up by two nice kickoff returns from Antonio Cromartie, who has broken the Patriots’ containment each time. The Pats have got to improve in that area. The Jets have a first down at the Pats’ 49 after Jerricho Cotchery gained six yards on a quick out on third-and-5.
First quarter, 1:12, Patriots 3-0: Shayne Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal to put the Patriots ahead, but they let a red-zone chance fall by the wayside. The Pats are moving the ball well, but Shaun Ellis has a couple of sacks. Also, David Harris made another poor play, getting flagged for a facemask to give the Patriots a first down when they were about to face a third-and-10. This is a better start for Graham, who missed both of his field-goal attempts last postseason with the Bengals, who lost to the Jets in the wild-card round.
First quarter, 5:44, 0-0: Nick Folk hooked a 30-yard field goal, and the Jets couldn’t capitalize on Tom Brady’s first interception since Week 6. The Jets didn’t gain a single yard on three plays, and Alge Crumpler’s hustle play is absolutely gigantic now.
First quarter, 7:50, 0-0: David Harris’ day didn’t start off all that great, as he missed a tackle on Danny Woodhead, who took the first offensive snap 19 yards down the left sideline. But Harris picked off Tom Brady’s poor throw that sailed way over the head of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and returned the interception to the New England 12-yard line. Credit Alge Crumpler for racing down the field to catch Harris from behind, but wow, that was an uncharacteristically poor pass from Brady, who completed 3 of 4 for 35 yards prior to that.
First quarter, 12:03, 0-0: The Jets crossed midfield, but Mark Sanchez’s third-and-5 pass sailed well over a wide-open Jerricho Cotchery, who broke free from Patrick Chung toward the right sideline. Wes Welker called for a fair catch on the punt, and the Pats take over at their own 16. Julian Edelman is starting in place of Welker in the offensive huddle.
First quarter, 14:54, 0-0: Antonio Cromartie brought the opening kickoff to the New York 32-yard line, and this thing is finally underway.
4:40 p.m.: The CBS broadcast just announced Wes Welker has been benched for the first series of the game for his comments in Thursday’s news conference.
4:38 p.m.: The Jets called heads and lost the coin toss, and the Patriots elected to kick off to start the game. They’ll receive the second-half kickoff.
4:32 p.m.: Tom Brady led the Patriots out onto the field amid a fireworks display, and the entire crowd is equipped with white towels.
4:18 p.m.: With about 20 minutes to go until kickoff, the Patriots and Jets are in their respective locker rooms going over their final preparations. If the Patriots win, they’ll host the Steelers in the AFC Championship. If the Jets come out alive, they’ll be visiting Pittsburgh next Sunday.
3:45 p.m.: Here are some more details on New England’s inactive list. Shayne Graham has finished his warmups and hit the front end of the crossbar on his lone attempt from 50 yards, so it’s much more difficult kicking in that direction.
3:40 p.m.: The 60-minute clock has just started, and eight days of hype has hit its last hour. Shayne Graham is testing out the conditions and drilled a field goal from 50 yards at the closed end of the stadium before switching to the open end. And Antonio Cromartie has taken the field in full uniform, getting greeted by a round of boos.
3:32 p.m.: Here’s an interesting stat: The “questionable” status means a player has a 50/50 chance of playing through his injury. This season, 28 of 56 Patriots who were listed as questionable have been active on game day, which equates to 50 percent.
3:10 p.m.: Patriots running back Fred Taylor is a healthy scratch for the second time in his career, and defensive lineman Myron Pryor can’t play due to a back injury. Offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, tackle Mark LeVoir, wide receiver Taylor Price, running back Thomas Clayton, cornerback Tony Carter and linebacker Marques Murrell are also on New England’s inactive list. More details to follow.
3:05 p.m.: Wide receiver Brad Smith is inactive, which means cornerback Antonio Cromartie will be the Jets’ primary kick returner.
2:47 p.m.: Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez is out on the field catching passes from Brian Hoyer, which is an indication that he’s good to go after missing two games with a hip injury.
1:59 p.m.: If the Patriots win Sunday, Tom Brady would record his 15th career playoff victory, more than any quarterback with one team in NFL history. Brady is tied with Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and John Elway, who are all first-ballot Hall of Famers. If the Pats win Super Bowl XLV, Brady would break Montana’s NFL record with 17 career playoff wins.
1:41 p.m.: None of this means anything unless the Patriots take care of business, but they’ve wound up with the best route to the Super Bowl that I think they could have possibly had. Of course, the Jets and Steelers are no slouches, but the Patriots handled each team in the regular season and get to avoid a dangerous Baltimore team that has given New England trouble.
1:11 p.m.: We’ve arrived at Gillette Stadium, where it’s a nice day aside from some wind gusts. The sun is out, the work crews are getting rid of that last bit of snow in the stands and a couple of Jets are loosening up on the field.
8 a.m.: After eight days of hype, the football world has finally arrived for the part of the week when the talking doesn’t mean a thing. Finally, this hate-infused rivalry between the Patriots and Jets can be centered around about football and not an endless amount of jawing with a couple hundred miles separating the players.
There are times when it can be wildly entertaining, sure, but Sunday’s Pats-Jets battle is about one thing and one thing only — a trip to the AFC Championship.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has all of the postseason experience in the world, and a victory against the Jets would be his 15th in his playoff career, more than any quarterback with one team in NFL history. So the Patriots have an obvious advantage in two pivotal spots at quarterback and head coach.
However, the Jets have three playoff victories in the last two seasons — all on the road — while the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game in three years. To find out which trend breaks Sunday, stay on top of NESN.com’s live blog.
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