Strong Defense Leads Patriots Past Jets

The Patriots and Jets met up Sunday in Foxboro for the next round in their divisional rivalry. The Patriots were coming off of a devastating loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week and were itching for some revenge from not only that game, but also their earlier-in-the-season loss to the New York Jets on the road. And exact their revenge they did, winning the game 31-14 while forcing 5 New York turnovers, including 4 interceptions, 3 by cornerback Leigh Bodden.

First Quarter: Coming Out Strong

New England received the opening kickoff and took it out to their 27-yard line. Unfortunately, they went three-and-out on their opening drive, and New York received the punt at their 24-yard line. Then the defense took over. This was definitely the theme of this game, as the Patriots were able to assert themselves over and over again on defense. New York was forced to punt, and New England took over once again on the 29-yard line. They made a few nice plays, including a converted 4th-and-1 and a decent pass to Kevin Faulk, but a Laurence Maroney fumble ended what looked to be a promising drive. Luckily, on the ensuing drive Leigh Bodden recorded his first interception, which he returned 56 yards for a touchdown. The quarter continued with another Jets 3-and-out, which was followed by a Patriots drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. This drive also began the day for Wes Welker, who finished the day with 15 catches for 192 yards, the most receptions in a single game by a wide receiver in the league up until this point. During that drive, Welker caught for 62 yards.

Second Quarter: Strong on D, Not So Much on Special Teams

A Tully Banta-Cain sack ended the Jets first drive of the second quarter, forcing a punt that the Patriots received at their 41-yard line. Brady continued to hit Wes Welker, finding him for a nice 43-yard strike down the middle of the field. The drive ended with a solid Laurence Maroney touchdown run, the first of two for the New England running back. The next Jets drive was halted by Bodden’s second interception of the game, which after some big hits from the offensive line led to a Patriots field goal that put them up 24-0 midway through the second quarter. The next Jets drive was also a three-and-out, with the Patriots sniffing out and stopping a third down option play from the Jets. This time, however, the Jets responded, blocking a punt and a returning it for a touchdown. The half ended with more passes to Welker, but unfortunately Stephen Gostkowski missed the field goal and the score at half was 24-7. The half ended with Wes Welker racking up 139 yards, whereas Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez could only pass for 6 yards on 2 total completions.

Third Quarter: Here Come the Jets

The third quarter began with a solid drive by the New York Jets. They converted a 4th down play, picked up multiple first downs, and in the end Mark Sanchez connected with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. The Pats got the ball back at the 11, picked up a few first downs, and then a Tom Brady (28 completions, 310 yards, 1 touchdown) sack stalled the drive out midfield. Overall, the Jets came out of halftime with more energy than the Patriots did and got themselves back into the game during this quarter.

Fourth Quarter: Can the Patriots Close Games?

The fourth quarter began with another Patriots punt, but it led to another Patriots interception, once again by Leigh Bodden. The Patriots got some good running out of Laurence Maroney, but a couple of delay of game penalties contributed to yet another drive dying at midfield. The Patriots punted once again, and then picked off Mark Sanchez once again. This time, the interception came at the hands of Brandon Meriweather. And this time, the drive did not stall at midfield. More Maroney running led to a touchdown that put the Patriots up 31-14. This essentially sealed the game, as it put New England up by three possessions with just over five minutes to play. The Jets got the ball back, but Banta-Cain stripped Mark Sanchez and the Jets turned the ball over once again. After that, Brady completed a key pass to Welker for a first down that ran the clock down to 0:25. New York got the ball back once more, but Sanchez’s final throw fell incomplete and the victory went to the Patriots.

The Game in Review

Today we saw the Patriots respond to a bad loss with poise and ability. They showed that they can respond to the trials and tribulations of the regular season and keep a level head about it. Simply put, they outplayed the Jets today. While the third quarter left everyone wondering if the Patriots would cough up another lead, they proved in the fourth quarter that with the game on the line, they are still capable of getting it done. Next week they face a Monday night game against the undefeated New Orleans Saints. This will be a far harder battle than their game against the Jets. Hopefully, they will respond to the challenge with the same control and enthusiasm with which they played New York.

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