FOXBORO, MA - For 58 minutes the Jets hung tough just not tough enough. They fought, clawed and battled as they were able to stay within reach until the last two minutes of the game but the entire 60-minute game proved two things; the Jets are a good team and the Patriots are just better.
The Jets have improved signifcantly from the poor excuse for a team that they trotted out for 16 games last year but they are still a notch below the Patriots. The Jets defense was able to keep Tom Brady in-check for most of the game but Brady being Brady was at his best when he needed to be and made just enough plays to break the backs of the Jets.
The Jets offense got off to the worst start imaginable, Chris Ivory ran for a four yard loss and tweaked his hamstring on the first play and Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked and lost a fumble on the second play of the game. Despite the Patriots recovering the fumble at the Jets 19-yard line the Jets defense held strong, hitting Brady twice (Muhammad Wilkerson had a sack on third down) and forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal as the Patriots actually lost a yard on the drive. That defensive stand was the catalyst for the Jets to be able to keep it close for the rest of the game but the Patriots simply made more plays than the Jets.
The Jets were forced to settle for two field goals after they dropped two passes in the end zone. Jeff Cumberland had the first drop, that replays showed was actually a missed defensive pass interference call on Patrick Chung, and while Brandon Marshall made a couple of big plays (four catches for 67 yard), his biggest play was a missed opportunity when he dropped a pass in the end zone that would have given the Jets an eight-point lead with 12:50 left to go in the fourth quarter. The Patriots then marched 80 yards in 10 plays, taking five minues and 34 seconds off the clock to take a 23-20 lead on an eight yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. After a three-and-out from the Jets the Patriots put the game away with another 10 play touchdown drive capped off by a 15 yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski.
With Ivory forced to play sparringly due to his hamstring the Jets weren't able to establish any type of running game and the Patriots ran for even less but they barely even bothered to try. The Jets ran for 89 yards on 29 carries (Ivory had 41 yards on 17 carries, Fitzpatrick picked up 29 yards on five attempts and Zac Stacy had seven carries for only 19 yards). The Patriots only ran for 16 yards but they only ran the ball nine times and four of those run were by Brady who was the leading rusher for the Patriots with 15 yards and a touchdown (James White had two carries for four yards and LeGarrette Blount had three carries but actually lost three yards). The Patriots didn't need to run though, as it clearly wasn't even in their game plan, as Brady threw the ball 54 times, completing 34 of them for 355 yards.
With the exception of the fumble and a few errant throws Fitzpatrick played pretty well and it might have been good enough if Cumberland and Marshall were able to haul in those touchdown passes but as the Jets let those opportunities slip through their fingers Brady and his receivers did not. Amendola, Gronkowski and Julian Edelman were held in-check for most of the game but when the Patriots needed to make plays the three main receiving options took turns stepping up to prove that the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC East.
INJURY NEWS AND NOTES:
ESPN's Rich Cimini reported that "Ivory said his hamstring is fine, adding he had trouble getting loose in the pre-game warms ups. He said he'll be at practice on Wednesday."
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)