Another Record Day
Patriots 14-0, 5-0 in Division
Not to complain or to sound like SI's Peter King, but Sunday was a brutal travel day for anyone lucky enough to see history made at Gillette Stadium. We can talk about that later (or never). The worst of it was coming home and having to shovel 2 feet of snow and ice, including what the plows pushed into the driveway.
Anyway, your New England Patriots have become the first team in the 16-game regular-season era to win their first 14 games of the season. They are now one game away from sweeping the AFC East, which they have never done before.
Eugene Wilson because the 21st Patriot to score a touchdown this season, tying the NFL record with a 5-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Sunday's game was Tom Brady's first of the season without a touchdown pass, and, statistically, it was by far his worst performance: 14 of 27 for 140 yards, 1 interception and a passer rating of 51.5. That should drop him below his former record pace for the best single-season passer rating ever. Brady also ran the ball four times for 9 yards, including a first down.
Laurence Maroney was far from spectacular, but he broke a career best for carries with 26, but he gained just 104 yards. That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's not what Patriots fans expect.
Much as you'd expect in weather conditions as they were, this was the defense's game. New England sacked Jets quarterbacks five times, registering 10 total quarterback hits.
Adalius Thomas led the team in total tackles (9) and solo (8), including 1.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Junior Seau -- poor guy, aging so -- had 7 solo tackles and a pair of assists to tie Thomas in total tackles. Seau also had a pair of sacks for 21 yards.
In addition to his interception for a score, Wilson also recovered a fumble deep in New England territory. Richard Seymour was a little more visible. With only a pair of tackles, he notched half a sack, but he was in the backfield more than some of the Jets pass blockers. Seymour had 3 quarterback hits and blocked a pass on New York's side of the line.
Special teams were also huge -- for both teams.
New York's David Bowens blocked a Chris Hanson punt, recovered the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown -- the Jets only touchdown of the day.
I don't know if I'll ever understand what was going through Hanson's head. He received the snap, bobbled it (which is bad enough, but understandable), and then tried to get off the punt with Bowens standing in front of him waiting.
Hanson could have done any number of things, and he picked the absolute worst one. He could have just eaten the ball. He could have tried to roll out and throw a pass -- even an intentional grounding penalty wouldn't have been as bad. (Most definitely there would have been an ineligible receiver downfield, but that still would have been better.) Fortunately, it matter little in the long run.
New England pinned the Jets deep, and Seau pushed them back further with one of his sacks. A 3-and-out led to Kelley Washington blocking Ben Graham's punt. Kyle Eckel almost recovered, but he buried Abram Elam at the 3, and Maroney took it in two plays later.
The last big-time special teams player was Patriots place kicker Stephen Gostkowski. It wasn't Adam Vinatieri-esque, but Gostkowski drove through a pair of field goals (26, 34 yards) in dreadful conditions, earning back a little faith lost against Philadelphia.
Oh, right. Randy Moss made another amazing catch, and Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk provided their usual spot-on reliable performances. You know, a lot more happened than it seemed like at the time.
The Patriots are within spitting distance of a slew of records. The weekend weather certainly had an impact on their inability to close the gap on a few Sunday. New England is home against Miami next Sunday. The early forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40s, cloudy, with no precipitation and a moderate 10-mph breeze.
There's much more coming in the next couple days. And then it's all eyes on Miami. Stay tuned.