When the Patriots first met the Jets this season, they decided to go right at Darrelle Revis. And it worked, as Randy Moss burned the Pro Bowl corner for a highlight-reel touchdown in the second quarter.
Revis walked to the locker room and didn't return, a sore hamstring keeping him out for the following two games.
The problem for the Patriots that day was that Antonio Cromartie took Revis' spot on Moss, and he completely shut down the wide receiver. Clearly, running stride for stride with Moss in a footrace up the field was no problem for the 6-foot-2 Cromartie.
This time around, the Patriots had a very different game plan. Though outsiders can't know the name of it, it might as well have been called "Throw the ball away from Revis."
Revis spent much of the night covering Wes Welker, and as a result, Tom Brady spent much of the night looking away from No. 83. In fact, Brady threw just one pass at Welker when he was on Revis Island. That pass turned out to be a good decision, as it worked for a 6-yard gain.
It also turned out to be a good game plan, as Deion Branch spent much of the first half burning Cromartie all over the field. On the Patriots' fifth offensive play of the game, Branch broke off a route about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and then broke Cromartie's tackle to gain 20 yards. After Brady overthrew a wide open Branch on a deep ball, Brady hit Branch on a crucial fourth down two drives later. On that play, Branch again burned past Cromartie and took off down the field for the score.
Once, when Cromartie was taken off Branch duty for a play, it didn't turn out so well. Cromartie lined up against Brandon Tate, who's shown very little in terms of offensive instincts in his brief career. Still, with Brady scrambling, Tate snuck behind Cromartie and found enough room to catch just his second touchdown of the year.
Brady was also quick to jump on the chance to hit Welker whenever he did not draw Revis in coverage. It worked on the first play of the game for a 9-yard gain, it worked later in the first quarter for a 14-yard pickup, and it worked out even better when Welker lined up against Drew Coleman in the third quarter.
Brady noticed that Revis wasn't on Welker, and the quarterback never took his eyes off his favorite target as he dropped back to pass. Brady hit Welker on a quick out, and Coleman couldn't keep up with the speedy Welker, who trampled into the end zone for six.
Though Revis may be the only Jets player to have been able to look himself in the mirror Tuesday morning and tell himself he played a good game, he wasn't feeling any better after the 45-3 loss, and he got testy with a reporter when asked if his personal play helped ease the pain of the loss.
"Very embarrassed, very disappointed," a perturbed Revis said. "That's all I have to say about it."
Clearly, Revis Island is very cold this time of year.
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