Just like the old days, makeshift defense comes through
The Sports Xchange
You could've borrowed this script from the 2004
season, back in the days when wide receiver Troy Brown used to fill in
The Patriots played Sunday's game in New York
without safety Patrick Chung and lost cornerback Devin McCourty shortly
thereafter, yet they somehow pieced together one of their best
defensive efforts of the season in a 37-16 win over the Jets.
Credit the pass rush, along with some much-needed
creativity and aggressiveness by the coaching staff. Led by Andre Carter's franchise-record 4.5 sacks, the Patriots spent the entire
night harassing Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, taking pressure off a
secondary without most of its key components.
This is what the Patriots always used to do during
their Super Bowl days -- they'd enter a key game with several important
players on the inactive list, and then turn in an unpredictable
performance in a surprising victory.
Granted, Sanchez isn't an elite quarterback, and
the Jets don't scare too many people offensively, but the presence of
rangy receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end Dustin Keller should've
been enough for New York to keep the game more competitive than it
wound up being down the stretch.
The Patriots simply wouldn't allow it. Their
makeshift defensive lineup, spearheaded primarily by five starters who
were undrafted as rookies, performed swimmingly, limiting Sanchez to
one touchdown and intercepting him twice. New England scored 17 points
off New York turnovers, a key factor in the victory.
Games like this used to serve as a turning point
for the Patriots. Back in 2004, the Patriots headed to St. Louis to
take on the vaunted Rams offense with two rookie cornerbacks in the
starting lineup and Brown in the secondary. New England responded with
a 40-22 win.
The similarities between that game and Sunday
night's win are eerie. Following the win over the Rams in '04, the
Patriots won seven of their final eight games, finished 14-2 and won
their second consecutive Super Bowl title.
The victory over the Jets doesn't mean the
Patriots are destined for another title, but it proves they can still
improvise when necessary.
Carter sets single-game franchise sack
--Defensive end Andre Carter set a franchise
record with 4.5 sacks Sunday in New York against the Jets. The previous
best was four by Julius Adams (1977), Tony McGee (1978) and Mike Hawkins (1979). Carter's previous best was 2.5 sacks at Carolina in
2009 while he was playing with Washington. It was Carter's third game
with two more sacks in 2011. He now has a team-leading nine sacks.
--Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 329 yards, his
40th career 300-yard game and his sixth 300-yard game of the 2011
season. The most 300-yard games by Brady in a single season was eight
in 2007. The NFL record for most 300-yard games in a season is 10 by
Drew Brees (2008) and Rich Gannon (2002).
--Wide receiver Wes Welker reached 500 receptions
as a member of the Patriots in his 70th game with the team, becoming
the fastest player to record 500 receptions with one team, surpassing
Anquan Boldin (80 games with Arizona). Welker is the fourth player in
NFL history with at least 500 catches in a five-year span.
--S Patrick Chung missed Sunday's game with a foot
injury. There's no timetable on his return; his status for this weekend
will depend on his practice participation over the next few days.
--CB Devin McCourty left Sunday's game during the
first half due to a separated shoulder. There is no official word on
his status, though he's expected to miss several weeks.
--RT Sebastian Vollmer left Sunday's game
momentarily due to a back injury, but he returned for the final stretch.
--RG Brian Waters also suffered a minor left knee
injury during the game, but he returned to the lineup and finished the
--S James Ihedigbo left Sunday's game with a
stinger, but, with the team depleted in the secondary, he returned soon
after to finish the game
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