With much of the pregame discussion focused on Darrelle Revis, Brady made sure the all-world cornerback would not be a major story after the game by virtually ignoring him when he covered Wes Welker. Brady targeted the Revis-on-Welker matchup just three times all game, choosing instead to let Deion Branch work against Antonio Cromartie and allow tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to find space to operate in the Jets' defense.
Brady, however, didn't simply ignore his favorite target, Welker, when he was covered by Revis. Instead, he picked his spots. And he picked them well.
With the Patriots facing a third-and-2 on the Jets' 15-yard line, Brady noticed Revis playing off Welker before hitting the receiver on a quick out. Welker gained four yards, picking up the first down, but the drive eventually ended in an interception.
That was no problem, though, as Brady went right back to Welker on the first offensive play of the second half for what turned out to be a 73-yard gain.
Revis played several yards off Welker and looked to be expecting the receiver to run a short route, as is his specialty. Instead, Welker took off down the seam, burning right past Revis and safety Eric Smith. Revis showed some incredible speed in catching Welker from behind at the 7-yard line, but three plays later, Branch gained about 10 yards of separation from Cromartie in the end zone, Brady easily found him, and the Patriots took a 17-7 lead.
While Revis wasn't exactly in man coverage on the play (Smith should have been in position to take away the deep ball), he did accept responsibility after the game.
"It was like [Welker] was going across the field and got us on a double move and he was gone up the field," Revis said.
Brady did more than just hit his open receiver on the play, as his playaction fake might have been the reason Smith was out of position to cover Welker.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan said there was miscommunication on the play.
"It kind of looked like one of those 'I got him, you take him' [plays]," Ryan said.
Bill Belichick encouraged Brady to continue taking those exact kind of chances.
"I think we've got to keep taking those shots," Belichick said. "You're not going to hit all of them, you want to, but we hit one and we've hit them in other weeks."
Despite the big gain, Welker spoke highly of Revis' coverage after the game.
"He's always a factor. He's a great player," Welker said. "You definitely have to make sure you're very crisp with all your routes and really set him up with stuff and be smart about it. Every play is go time when he's across from you."
Branch, who was targeted on an incompletion in the end zone while covered by Revis, said the Patriots weren't afraid to throw the ball in Revis' direction.
"If [Revis is guarding] Wes and the play is designed to go to Wes, we're going to try to get Wes the ball. Or if it's me. The guy's a great player, but the biggest thing is for us to go out and take care of our business and not worry about who's guarding who and what defense they're running. We just have got to go out and execute our plays."
For at least one play, Brady and Welker executed that plan to perfection, and it turned out to be the biggest play of the game.