This was kind of in the cards, wasn't it?
The game was in the bag. The Jets were reeling. This was too easy. Going to be a walk in the park. Jets have no chance. The narrative was the same everywhere you looked. Patriots were going to blow the Jets out of the water, and it wasn't even going to be close. The opinion was so pervasive that everybody bought right into it.
Everybody, that is, except for the Jets.
In what has become something of an AFC East tradition, the Jets played the Pats extremely close and had a chance to pull out the win late. However, the field goal blocking unit came up huge when it needed to and the Patriots were able to pull out a win in a game where New York did everything they possibly could to reverse this outcome.
But sometimes, everything doesn't cut it. And now here we are, sitting pretty at 5-2, atop the AFC East, with a mini bye week ahead of us and a chance to get some much needed rest. The Jets, meanwhile, saw their season more or less implode last night and any prayer at a postseason berth all but vanish. Life is good.
- I am firmly in the camp of those who basically see Thursday as almost Friday, and therefore use it as an excuse to mail it in at work a day early. Combine that with a Patriots game in primetime against the Jets, and I think that I actually got less than nothing done yesterday. Like I may have managed to undo work I had already done and now have more to do than if I had just called in sick.
- As great as games like last night's are for the football landscape as a whole and as much as a win like that helps ensure this rivalry stays strong, how much would you pay to have every single Pats/Jets matchup be more along the lines of Thanksgiving 2012 as opposed to October 2014?
- I'm fairly convinced that every major broadcasting station has hired a person whose sole job is to research various jinxing stats that will help New England lose. Tommy B has never lost on a Thursday. Brady has won his last 18 home games against AFC opponents. If Tommy B wins tonight he'll have reached 200. When October 17th falls on a Thursday and it rains in the afternoon, the New England Patriots have never had a player get hurt. Enough with this stuff.
- The Foxboro faithful was once again back to library mode after bringing their best for the previous home game. I guess this time I can blame it on a combination of it being a schoolnight, the rain in the forecast, and Pats fans being just the worst.
- Tough to start much better than the Patriots did last night. 80 yards in less than two minutes in which they didn't even have a third down. It wasn't exactly indicative of how the offense would play all game, but that's what I've been told they say down south is bringing the stank and putting the elbow where the bonesaw ain't dull.
- That said - how do you let Vereen get so wide open if you're the Jets? Antonio Allen was New England's MVP last night and it wasn't even close. There wasn't even a playaction for him to bite on - just horrible coverage. I'm really hoping he saw Tommy B start to roll to his right and started charging forward to prevent a scramble. Allen could have walked to the first down marker faster than Brady could have run.
- And what a catch by Vereen. Brady was actually pretty inaccurate to start this game - he was throwing high and forcing receivers to disrupt their routes to compensate. And Tommy B straight up overthrew Vereen. But Shane made that catch look easy. Glad to see him upholding the reputation of Shanes being incredibly graceful, athletic, coordinated, and unflinchingly attractive - because Lord knows I am really, really not pulling my weight there.
- Vereen had 114 total yards and 2 TDs on the day, which now brings his stats on Thursday night games against the Jets to 247 yards and 3 TDs, two of which were long ones. I may not like Thursday games, but he clearly does.
- Few things were more indicative of how this game was going to go than New York's answering drive following that touchdown. After getting smacked hard in the mouth, the Jets ate time off the clock, committed to a great mix of run and pass, gained yards in chunks, got hard yards on the ground, and if not for a holding penalty, would have had an easy touchdown to give Geno Smith a ton of confidence. Not exactly the "fumble it on the opening play" that I was hoping for, but the very definition of how you beat the Patriots at home.
- There were a few things that absolutely infuriated me about last night's game. And since this is a win - and it's Friday - I don't want to get too negative here. So I'm just going to get them all out of the way right now.
- Geno Smith did a great job at extending the play behind the line of scrimmage and using his legs when he had to. But when he did take off, I couldn't help but notice several Patriots more or less just standing around waiting for him to slide or go out of bounds. Darrelle Revis was particularly guilty of that. If a QB is running free, you go after him.
- Too many Patriots slipping around yesterday. That's two games on the year where footing was an issue. It's one thing at Kansas City, but it's inexcusable at home. If the Jets weren't slipping, you shouldn't be either.
- New England got absolutely gashed up the middle all game. The Jets didn't even do anything all that complex - adopted the "we'll keep running it until you stop it" approach, and the Patriots didn't stop anybody all night. You figure they would have transitioned out of a wider 3-4 look and gone to more of a large nickel package that features five guys over the middle. Fantastic blueprint for how to beat this team.
- Getting gashed on the ground sucks, yes. But you know what sucks more? Allowing running backs to gain 4 or 5 yards after contact and turning a 3 yard play into a 7 yard play. I know that Chris Ivory is a strong runner, but when initial contact comes just beyond the line of scrimmage and he manages to carry three or four guys three or four yards, that's just embarrassing. Ivory averaged 5 yards a carry last night.
- Penalties. Another horribly officiated game overall, and I know that penalties are just part of the game, but New England seems to know exactly when the worst possible time to draw a flag is. It's getting to the point where every time I see a good play happen for them on either side of the ball, I delay celebrating in any way for about 10 seconds to make sure there aren't any opposing players petitioning for the call.
- That said...I'm in the thumbs up camp on the Jordan Devey personal foul. I'm all for it. It may have cost the team four points, and I may be singing a different tune if the Pats had dropped this game, but lineman sticking up for their quarterbacks is what I like to see.
- Special teams penalties have been proving especially costly. At least once per game the Patriots are backed up inside their own 10 due to a holding call or an illegal block in the back. There's an absolutely massive difference between starting at your own 25 and starting at your own 15.
- Covering tight ends has been a major, major problem all season. Almost every team the Patriots play for the rest of the year have a legit TE threat - Martellus Bennett and Julius Thomas are the next to on the docket - so something needs to be done about this ASAP.
- OK, I think that's it. Back to the positives!
- I'm a fan of Danny Amendola as a kick returner. He doesn't have breakaway speed, but he's good enough in space to weave his way for a few extra yards. And plus, it's not like what we have seen so far has inspired any confidence from any of us. The only negative of Amendola returning kicks is that it isn't a matter of if he gets hurt, it's a matter of when. And with him having what I'm hoping is a breakout game last night, I'd like to see him stay healthy.
- You know, NFL Network, you don't have to go to commercial at every single opportunity. Last night may have been a new record for one play/commercial break/one play/commercial break nonsense. And if I see J.J. Watt creeping at a middle school dance one more time...
- Poor Casey Walker. Did you see him trying to pump the crowd up? It's only his first year; he'll learn.
- Although I will say, Walker is looking like he could be a great pickup. He's a solid presence in the middle, and while I don't really see him as a 2-gap lineman (as evidenced by the way Nick Mangold pushed him around the line like he was the "before" guy in an Obsidian Slide Board Infomercial), but he has a good initial push.
- Boy did the Patriots need their second scoring drive. If they had gone three and out again and sent the defense back out on zero rest, it may have been a completely different game. Of course, the Jets answered right back and scored in about 15 seconds. On the plus side, at least the defense got a breather.
- That Kick Trax that monitors not only how long a FG would have been good from, but by how many inches it made it by is really cool. Ironically, Nick Folk's first FG of the night, a 47 yarder, would have been good from 58, which is how long his last attempt was.
- Rob Ninkovich followed up his best game as a Patriot this season with what I think is his worst. He got eaten up on the stretch runs and bit to the inside almost every time. I completely lost count of the number of times Geno Smith juked Nink out of his beard scrambling around behind the line.
- Did anybody see the massive booger in Belichick's nose when the camera zoomed in on him at the start of the 3rd? That thing was almost as impressive as Vereen's catch. And does BB have time to deal with it during game time? Hell no; it probably stayed right where it was until just before the end of game handshake with Rex.
- Mayo would have been a great spy linebacker yesterday. I don't think he would have done much to stop the running attack, but I do think that Geno wouldn't have been as effective on the scramble if Mayo had an eye on him.
- I hate to do this, but I really should take a minute to give the Jets credit for their performance last night. I honestly don't think I've seen a better drive in all of football this season than what I saw from the Jets to open up the 3rd quarter. Everything about it was near perfect, from the playcalling to the execution.
- If you don't know anything about The Bum Phillups Bowl, take some time this morning to learn about it. It's the best game - and trophy - across any sport.
- You know what would be great? If the Jets got a QB who wasn't elite at avoiding sacks. Say what you want about Geno and Mark Sanchez, but both of those guys are phenomenal at extending the play.
- I think Geno Smith has finally found a cure for his interception woes: simply hand the ball off every down.
- When the Jets finally punted for the first time late in the 3rd quarter, the New England Patriots had allowed almost an entire regulation football game to pass since their last kick. This defense is still living and dying off of turnovers.
- Didn't hear much out of Nate Solder last night, which is a plus. Marcus Canon, however, is not meant to be a tackle. Really don't know why they keep subbing him in on certain packages.
- Julian Edelman is going to take some flak for his drops this morning, but I'm going to give him a pass. If you're the guy who replaces Wes Welker, dropping the ball in key moments simply comes with the territory.
- Not cool, Chris Jones. You don't hit anybody in the knee. Patriots fans know that better than anybody. Glad that Geno was OK, so he could make the postgame walk toward his inauguration into the Bad Quarterbacks Who Look Like All-Stars Against the Patriots Hall of Fame.
- I'm limping visibly this morning. I tweaked my hip jumping out of my seat on one of the only passes that Danny Amendola has caught all season that didn't have a penalty attached to it. That I injured myself on the play and Amendola didn't is just fine with me. I'm expendable.
- Although I will say: I'm still a bit worried that the NFL Headquarters is going to to back to that Amendola touchdown and send in an extremely delayed penalty flag.
- Not to open an old wound, but that catch that Amendola made for that TD was more or less the exact same ball placement for the man whose place he took in a certain game a few years ago. And that one didn't quite end as well.
- I feel that, like most of us, I spent the bulk of this game waiting for the Jets to suddenly realize that they were the Jets and start Jetsing all over the place. And it didn't come until late in the 4th quarter when they decided to forgo running Chris Ivory and his 78 yards per carry up the gut for two points and the tie and instead put the ball in Smith's hands to attempt a corner fade route, one of the more precision passes in the NFL, instead.Game over.
- What a great onside kick from Foles. People are going to give LaFell crap for not fielding it, but he was expecting a bounce up that never came. Luckily for New England, there is no such thing as an "illegal falling on the ball" penalty, otherwise Amendola probably would have gotten called for that.
- Nick Foles doesn't miss. He doesn't. Guy is up there with Ghost as one of the most accurate kickers in the league. I didn't think for a second that the kick wouldn't be on target if he got it off.
- Here's a little factoid that absolutely nobody is talking about anywhere in any capacity: Chris Jones, the guy who got flagged last year for that garbage penalty to cost the Pats the game against the Jets, was the guy to get the block that won it for them. Who knew!
- Holy jeez what a win. If Folk had knocked that one through, I wouldn't have slept a wink all night.
- Look at Deion Branch hanging out with Bob Kraft in the booth!
- Can somebody make a website of nothing but Rex Ryan angry reaction gifs? Maybe lead with the one of him kicking the ground in pure rage?
- Total time of possession for the Jets? 40:54. Total time of possession for the Patriots? 19:06. Length of an average Simpsons episode? 22 minutes. Whoever the offensive assistant for the Patriots is is going to have a pretty easy day today putting together all of that game tape.
- I can't imagine that there have been many teams who held the ball for 40 minutes, rushed for over 200 yards, didn't turn the ball over once, and still lost the game. J-E-T-S!
You know what really, REALLY has to suck from a Jets perspective? That was more or less a perfect game from them. Rex Ryan was coaching out of his mind. They ran the ball incredibly well. They gave Geno time to throw. They DOMINATED the time of possession. They got to Tommy B when they had to. They did everything right.
And they still lost. Everything they had to do, they did - and they still couldn't get it done. Against the Patriots. When they could have handed them a rare home loss. In primetime. But they lost. That has to be a kick to the pills.
I also bet that there are Jets fans out there who are absolutely ecstatic with the way this turned out because New York kept it close and Geno didn't throw a pick. And that, my friends, is why it's great to be a Patriots fan.
Already looking forward to December 21st. Another game that's going to be decided by a field goal or less.