PATRIOTS - JETS: Report Cards

The New York Jets were held to zero first downs in the first half of the game while the Patriots rolled up 21 points to get on top with a 14-point lead at the half in a game that wasn't even that close. New England dominated virtually from start till finish, with the exception of a beautifully orchestrated drive by the ageless wonder Vinny Testaverde. Get inside for both team report cards.

PHOTO: New York Jets' Justin McCareins, right, tries to break free from New England Patriots' Ellis Hobbs during the third quarter in NFL football action Monday, Dec 26, 2005 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won, 31-21. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

PATRIOTS - JETS: Report Cards
By Site Staff


PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- A relatively quiet night for QB Tom Brady, who threw for a season-low 185 yards (on 18-of-29 passing) and whose long completion of the night went for just 23 yards (his shortest long gain in any game this season). Brady did throw two touchdowns, both to LB Mike Vrabel, but he had his lone interception returned for a score and was sacked three times, tying his season high. He still managed to distribute his throws to seven different receivers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- High marks for commitment as the Patriots rushed a season-high 50 times (for 151 yards). They averaged only 3.0 yards per carry, though, their third-lowest mark since Week 4. Dillon scored on a pair of short runs and also had a 10-yard gain, but he totaled just 77 yards on 26 attempts (3.0 average). Kevin Faulk fared a bit better, gaining 38 yards on 10 carries. Brady was 3-for-3 on sneaks, converting two fourth downs and one third.

PASS DEFENSE: A-minus -- Solid, until a couple of garbage-time touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both of them coming at DB Artrell Hawkins' expense. The Patriots continued their assault on opposing passers by sacking Brooks Bollinger (11-of-19, 100 yards, touchdown, interception) four times, giving them 17 sacks over their last five games. Asante Samuel's first-quarter interception didn't set up any points -- Ty Law's pick came two plays later -- but it did set an early tone.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- For the fourth consecutive week, the Patriots held the opposition's starting running back to fewer than 3.0 yards per carry. This time it was rookie Cedric Houston (5 carries for 14 yards, 2.8-yard average) who was bottled up. Derrick Blaylock (3-20) had the Jets' long gain, but his 9-yard run in the second quarter came on a second-and-20. The Jets totaled 40 yards on 10 carries, and the Patriots allowed only one first down on the ground, tying their season-best effort in Buffalo two weeks ago.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Rookie James Sanders recovered a muffed popup kickoff near the end of the first half, giving the Patriots another possession in Jets territory. K Adam Vinatieri kicked his first field goal in three weeks, and Tim Dwight had a 13-yard punt return. Those were the positives. The negatives: Still no big plays out of the kick-return unit, plus the Jets returned kickoffs 39 and 27 yards, although neither hurt. Josh Miller only punted twice, for a 39.5-yard net average.

COACHING: A -- Made a commitment to the run right off the bat and stuck with it. Criticism of using LB tedy Bruschi on special teams is silly because the Patriots have won three Super Bowls using their starters there, and they're not about to change their strategy now. In a rather meaningless road game against a three-win opponent, the Patriots played aggressively right from the start and never let the Jets breath. That speaks well of their focus.



PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Brooks Bollinger was under constant pressure and was sacked four times after having been dropped six times against Miami. The Jets' offensive line had trouble blocking the Patriots, and the usual myriad of defensive looks made things even tougher on both them and Bollinger. Laveranues Coles did tie a career high with two touchdown receptions, but both came after the game was out of reach.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Cedric Houston had only five carries for 14 yards as the trailing Jets were forced to abandon the run very quickly. Derrick Blaylock did rush for 20 yards on three attempts as he played for the first time since Oct. 9 after rehabbing a broken foot.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- Most of the Jets' success here came too late to matter. Two of their three sacks of Tom Brady occurred after the Patriots had scored 28 points. CB David Barrett was beaten not once, but twice for TDs by LB-turned-TE Mike Vrabel.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Although Corey Dillon scored twice on 1-yard runs, the Jets did limit him to 77 yards on 26 carries. It took 50 rushing attempts for New England to garner 151 yards. DE Bryan Thomas, filling in for the injured Shaun Ellis, had two tackles for losses.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Mike Nugent didn't get to attempt a field goal, and while some of his kickoffs were short as usual, he was kicking into a very strong wind. An Adam Vinatieri kickoff into that same wind resulted in a turnover when his pop fly deflected off David Barrett's leg and was recovered by the Pats. But they were unable to capitalize. Ben Graham averaged a 38.5-yard net on four punts.

COACHING: F -- To get beaten by a trick play once is bad enough. But to have it happen twice is inexcusable. While CB David Barrett did take the blame for both of LB Mike Vrabel's touchdown receptions, a change in schemes should have been in order after the LB-turned-TE scored so easily the first time. Once again on offense, the Jets lost the chess match to Bill Belichick & Co., but sometimes they didn't give themselves enough pieces to work with. On third-and-1 in the second quarter, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger chose not to run the ball, and instead tried a hitch pass to WR Justin McCareins, who had one blocker with him. Problem was that the Patriots had two defenders there. Result: a 2-yard loss.


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