A whirlpool of conflicting emotions consumed both Patriots and Jets fans after Sunday’s game. New England crept out of New York with a very disputed win; final score 24-17. The question as to which team deserved to win could go either way. The Patriots certainly pulled themselves together after being down 14-0 well into the second quarter; there are a few key players who made that happen.
The MVP of this game was none other than Rob Gronkowski, who had just returned from a minor injury. Gronkowski finished with six receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. All of his catches were incredible. He caught one ball as he was running downfield with his head turned around, arms outstretched above his head, and a defender on him. Only a giant receiver like Gronk could catch that one. Another reception turned into a crucial first down for the Patriots later in the game. Gronkowski’s first touchdown came with 12 seconds left in the first half to tie the game 14-14. As for the second touchdown, Jets’ rookie Jamal Adams got Gronk’d on a 33-yard pass from Brady early in the third quarter. All there is left to say is he better stay healthy.
Brandin Cooks is becoming a frequent target for Brady. Cooks was the top receiver in the game for both teams; ending with six receptions for 93 yards with his longest catch being 42 yards. Cooks started out the game shakily but quickly recovered. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that his 42-yard reception added fuel to the Patriots’ offensive fire. Cooks also kept the Patriots’ drives alive by catching passes that resulted in first downs. He is continuing to fit in very nicely with Brady’s offensive unit.
After many weeks of inconsistent play, Malcolm Butler picked up his slack with a good showing against the Jets. He wrapped up the game with four pass breakups, one interception, and a marvelous acting job. The interception from Butler shouldn’t be overlooked. His interception was immediately followed by Cooks’ 42-yard reception and, ultimately, a touchdown. This series of plays really put New England back in the game. However, Butler is getting the most props for selling his case to the referee who ended up taking away the Jets’ final touchdown of the game, resulting in a Patriots win.
Jets’ tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins ran in for a touchdown score, but Butler knocked the ball loose as they all fell down. The initial ruling on the field was a touchdown. Butler immediately got up to wave off the call, indicating they were wrong and had to review the play. The play was reviewed and ultimately overturned. Had the Jets’ touchdown not been taken away, the Jets missed an opportunity to pull to within three.
Tom Brady wasn’t anywhere near perfect on Sunday. Brady finished the game with 20-of-38 caught passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. While the statistics might not appear horrible, his play during the game was blatantly inconsistent. In the first quarter, Brady overthrew passes to Hogan and threw one in the dirt that was intended for Gronkowski. More bad passes were made that put the receivers in awkward but dangerous positions.
In fact, Hogan was taken out of the game for a couple plays after being drilled in the ribs from a bad pass by the quarterback. Brady’s pass put Hogan in a compromising position that had the potential to result in a serious injury. He also had a pass deflected by a Jets’ linebacker who was less than five feet away from him; Brady was simply oblivious. Finally, Brady threw an interception. Luckily it didn’t result in a Jets’ touchdown, but this isn’t the kind of play expected of a quarterback of his caliber.
Duron Harmon ended the game with a total of three pass breakups. The statistics column fails to mention the number of potential sacks, interceptions, and pass breakups he could’ve had throughout the course of the game had he tried a little bit harder. Of all the defensive snaps he saw, the most crucial play he gave up was a long pass that he was unsuccessful in covering in the fourth quarter with under a minute left. Harmon also had a couple wide open opportunities to sack Jets’ quarterback Josh McCown but didn’t. Lack of effort is not what professionals get paid for.
The defensive line as a whole is slowly starting to piece itself together. However, much work still needs to be done after their showing on Sunday. The line did not start strong at all; the longest drive the Jets have ever had in terms of number of plays this season was their first drive against New England. On top of this dissatisfying statistic, the line failed to sack McCown an innumerable amount of times; it was utterly appalling. Because of this, McCown was able to scramble for a couple first downs of his own; continuing the Jets’ offensive push. On the flip side, this is a compliment to the secondary for being able to prevent McCown from throwing long. All in all, the defensive line’s main concern is putting enough pressure on the quarterback in order to sack him.
After a contentious win in New York, the Patriots move on to face the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams are much different than those who played each other in Super Bowl Ll last February. Each team has something to prove going into Week 7.