All the momentum from New England's opening-day win dissipated into the night during the second half of the team's Week 2 loss to the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
If Week 1 was all about big plays in all three phases and the instant contributions of a boatload of rookies, then Week 2 was about many of those same young players failing to make plays, especially on defense. Mark Sanchez and the Jets scored 18 unanswered points in the second half on the way to the 28-14 victory that pulled both AFC East projected powers to 1-1 on the young season.
After dispatching the Bengals with an impressive 38-24 victory on opening day that had some reassessing their preseason predictions for the Patriots, now a week later there seem to be more questions about the team's defense than answers.
Second-year cornerback Darius Butler struggled mightily against New York. Not only did last year's second-round pick allow Braylon Edwards to beat him for a touchdown and a two-point play, but he also drew a pair of pass interference calls as New York drove to its final touchdown on the night to close the door on their rival.
First-round cornerback Devin McCourty also struggled, allowing a touchdown to Dustin Keller as the Jets tight end toasted New England to the tune of 115 yards on seven catches.
Maybe most alarming, though, was the fact that even in the Week 1 win, the team allowed Carson Palmer to drive to three second-half touchdowns. Now, two weeks in a row, the young defense in New England has looked, well, young.
"It's a long season," Butler said. "You can't really walk around with your head down. You are going to take some bumps, take some bruises like we did today. And now it's on to our next opponent."
That opponent is the Bills. The AFC East annual cellar-dweller may be just what the doctor ordered thanks to its less than impressive passing attack. Because, right now, the New England defense seems like it could use a confidence boost.
"Not every game is going to be perfect, but at the same time we have to keep our composure and play a full 60-minute game," linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said. "That would be the biggest thing, is playing 60 minutes and finishing games. That's two weeks in a row of examples where we didn't finish."
If the Patriots are to establish themselves as an AFC power and championship contender, that will have to change in the coming weeks. If it doesn't, the short roller coaster ride the team has been on for the first two weeks will likely continue throughout the season.
--RB Danny Woodhead was signed to the New England 53-man roster on Sept. 18 after getting cut by the Jets Sept. 14. Woodhead is a third-year player who saw action in 10 games for New York last season and played in the 2010 opener. He was inactive for New England's Week 2 trip to the New Meadowlands Stadium.
--OG Logan Mankins, according to a report/opinion from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, will report for the final six weeks of the season. The comment came in a 10 Questions TV segment. A two-time Pro Bowler, Mankins has missed the entire summer and first part of the season after refusing to sign his restricted free-agent tender and asking to be traded. Though it seemed more an opinion than a bold prediction, Mortensen said, "Logan Mankins will play for the Patriots at some point this year."
--OL Nick Kaczur (back) led New England's list of game inactives at the Jets that also included WR Taylor Price, CB Terrence Wheatley (foot), LB Dane Fletcher, T Steve Maneri, T Quinn Ojinnaka, DL Brandon Deaderick and RB Danny Woodhead.
--WR Julian Edelman made his sophomore season debut at the Jets, after missing the opener with a foot injury.
--WR Wes Welker continued to find the end zone, scoring New England's first touchdown for the second straight week with a 7-yard touchdown in the second quarter against New York. Welker finished with six catches for 38 yards and now has three touchdowns on the young season.
--TE Aaron Hernandez put up huge numbers in his second NFL game, hauling in six passes for 101 yards in the losing effort.
Patriots Young Defense Burned By Jets
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