The bad news — well, there's not a whole lot of that. Sure, they were thoroughly outplaying the Jets for much of Sunday but didn't have a big lead to show for it, but when it came down to winning time, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the offensive line flipped the switch and took care of business. It came in the form of a 13-play drive that gained 69 yards and chewed up 6:12, ending in a field goal that stretched the lead to nine with just 1:02 left on the clock.
It was an impressive showing, and it has the Patriots tied atop the AFC East with the Bills.
Wait a second — the Bills? That must be a typo. Before I make any more mistakes like that, let's get into all the leftover thoughts from Sunday's 30-21 win.
–Though the Jets went three-and-out on their first four offensive drives, the Patriots' defense looked as bad as advertised on New York's first scoring drive. Plaxico Burress made an easy catch for 19, Shonne Greene picked up 18 yards on three straight carries and the Jets used 13 plays to move 77 yards and find the end zone. On that drive, the Pats' D looked like the unit that entered the game ranked 32nd across the board.
–Fortunately for New England, though, that was it. The Jets scored on their next drive, but that started on the New England 20. After that, it was punt, punt, punt, as the defense did its job. When it was all said and done, the D allowed just 255 total yards. For comparison, the Dolphins, Chargers, Bills and Raiders averaged 477.5 yards against the Patriots in the first four weeks of the season, with the Bills' 448 the fewest yards gained among them.
–The Patriots' moment of silence for Al Davis was nice, as was Robert Kraft's statement. Often, those statements speak in generalities and don't offer much insight, but Kraft talked about a discussion he had with Davis just last week, and how thankful he was for Davis honoring Myra Kraft with a moment of silence.
"Little did I know that just one week later, we would be doing the same in his honor," Kraft said. "It's very sad."
–Do you remember that 60 Minutes feature on Tom Brady and Deion Branch from the dynasty days, when the two showed they share a special connection? If not, you can watch it here, but if yes, then you saw it come back in full force on Sunday.
With 1:06 left in the first half and the Patriots leading by a field goal, Branch lined up on the outside to Brady's right. Brady took a shotgun snap and dropped back a few steps before launching a pass to an area with nobody in it. As the ball was floating seemingly nowhere, Branch — with his back to Brady — broke from the middle of the field to the vacated area and made a great catch along the sideline.
It went down in the books as a 29-yard gain, but it was a picture of perfection that only two guys on the exact same page could complete.
–That drive ended in misery, however, as Brady's pass went off Aaron Hernandez's hands and into Antonio Cromartie's. You could say it was bad luck, but the Patriots were playing with fire by snapping the ball with 9 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. Brady had already been sacked twice that drive, and one more would have ended the half with no points. Sure, Hernandez should have caught the pass, but it was risky business to even snap that ball, and as far as I'm concerned, you kick the field goal there with 9 seconds left.
–Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if Branch never left New England? The Patriots definitely would have beaten the Colts in that '06 AFC Championship Game and probably won another Super Bowl. Brady might not have developed into the statistical master that he has since '07, and maybe Wes Welker never joins the Patriots (though I doubt that because Bill Belichick had an eye on him for a while). Randy Moss almost assuredly would never have become a Patriot. It's crazy to think about, so let's stop now.
–I'm sure Thomas Welch is a good guy. I am. But for the second straight week, he offered a defender a free shot on Brady. This time, it was Jamaal Westerman with a simple swim move that had Welch lunging helplessly as Westerman ran free from Brady's blind side. Brady saw Westerman and braced for the hit, but I'm not sure Welch is long for this Patriots team.
—Nick Mangold, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain, looked outstanding. He's a tremendous football player and beard grower.
–Last week, I pointed out that while Chad Ochocinco hasn't made a major impact this year, he was making his mark by picking up six first downs on his seven catches. He kept up that pace on Sunday, making two catches and picking up one first down. The catch that didn't pick up a first down was a rather impressive toe-tapper along the left sideline for a gain of 16. Again, he's not incredible, but he's useful.
–Unfortunately for Chad, the good news ends there. He came out of a huddle in the fourth quarter and ran to the complete wrong side of the field. Brady had to tell him to get on the other side, but it was too late, and the Patriots had to burn a timeout. It's Week 5 — it's time to know the offense.
–You know who does know the offense? Welker. His 740 receiving yards are the most that any receiver has had through the first five games of a season. Ever. He's on pace for 2,368 yards (NFL record is 1,848) and 144 receptions (record is 143). That he was able to pick up 124 yards on a day when he was blanketed by Darrelle Revis for most of the afternoon tells you the kind of season he's having.
–I had the good fortune of being at Gillette for this one, so as soon as I got home, I went through the DVR to watch 115 minutes of commercials, just to round out the NFL Sunday experience.
–Being at the game, I missed the broadcast, but fortunately cube neighbor Ben Watanabe alerted me to Jim Nantz pronouncing Zoltan Mesko's name as "MECK-oh." That's two weeks in a row that Mesko's simple name was mispronounced, if you're keeping stats at home.
–When it was announced that Brady's interception was his first red-zone pick at home ever, a lot of people responded by saying, "Wow." And with good reason. That's impressive. But lest we forget, two of Brady's worst interceptions ever came in the red zone. One was in Super Bowl XXXVIII, when the Patriots were technically the home team and Brady threw a pick in the end zone from the 9-yard line with the Patriots leading by 5. Carolina took a lead a few minutes later.
Brady also was picked in the end zone in his first-ever playoff loss in Denver in 2005. Champ Bailey bring back any dreadful memories?
So yeah, it's impressive that Brady had never thrown a pick at home in the red zone, but, well, it's more circumstance than anything else. Stats are for losers.
–If the game came down to the Patriots needing a timeout, it would have been the officials' fault for costing them one in the second half. After Green-Ellis made a catch and run to set the Pats up on the 3-yard line, it was a comedy of errors from the men in stripes as the Pats tried to continue running their no-huddle offense.
There were several blows of the whistle, for whatever reason, followed by two officials running to talk to head referee Jerome Bogar. Brady ran over to tell them all he was trying to run an NFL offense and would appreciate a football. Jim Leonhard went over and pointed at Brady, though I don't know why. Meanwhile, the Jets were running three players on and three players off the field in a frenzy before Bogar dropped a ball thrown in by the ball guy. The ball wasn't set by the officials until the play clock was down to 10 seconds. Brady had to call timeout.
It ended up not mattering … to everyone except for me.
–The story that may get overlooked from Sunday is the penalty problem. New England committed six penalties for 50 yards, including the rare offensive facemask by Rob Gronkowski. The reason nobody will talk about it, though, is because New York committed eight for 89 yards. That's horrible.
–If this is considered the awakening of "The Sleeping Giant" known as Albert Haynesworth, then I feel 10 feet tall.
–The biggest disappointment for me personally after the game was that Bart Scott was not available to talk in the locker room. As soon as the media hounds were let into the room, the veteran linebacker was gone. Maybe he had a nosebleed or something.
–The "new NFL" where you can't touch quarterbacks reared its ugly head when Kyle Arrington had a free shot at Mark Sanchez. Instead of blasting the quarterback, as he likely did his whole life, Arrington tried to wrap up Sanchez at the hips. Sanchez got away, as it looked like Arrington was doing what he could to not get fined or flagged. It's tricky playing defense in the NFL these days.
—Vince Wilfork finished the game with zero interceptions. What a slacker.
–While we all saw 3 million replays of Branch's fumble that was overturned, there wasn't enough attention paid to Rob Gronkowski tripping over the pylon. Sure, he was on his way down before tumbling over the little orange marker, but it's more fun to say he tripped over the pylon. Plus, people falling over is always funny. Here's photographic proof.
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