JETS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASS OFFENSE: A -- Chad Pennington again turned back the clock to 2002, at least in the second half, when he threw for 202 of his 306 yards and two TDs. Both Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles had at least 100 yards receiving and a spectacular catch-and-run score. But Pennington was sacked four times and was on the run much of the game.
RUSH OFFENSE: F -- The running game looked worse than last week, if that's possible, with no first downs and only 2.1 yards per carry. The Jets are ranked 31st in rushing offense after the first two weeks, and improvement doesn't seem imminent, without a big-time featured back (unless Kevan Barlow rediscovers his 2003 form) or a cohesive offensive line.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- S Kerry Rhodes' fourth-quarter sack was the only one by the Jets, and he also caused a fumble that Bryan Thomas recovered. A pick by CB David Barrett on the previous series was the other highlight for the Jets, as otherwise, Tom Brady had time to make plays when he needed to make them. Particularly on New England's final drive, when he went 3-for-3 on third-down conversions through the air.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Pats' two-headed monster of Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney averaged 4 yards per carry. The Jets managed only one tackle for loss against the run, when run-blitzing S Erik Coleman dropped Maroney for a 3-yard loss on the Pats' second series.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- P Ben Graham seemed to be on his way to a huge day when he placed his first four punts inside the Patriots' 20, but then a 10-yard shank to the 50 jump-started a second-quarter TD drive by New England. K Mike Nugent got back on track by connecting on his only FG attempt, a 42-yarder, and Bryan Thomas contributed a blocked FG. The return teams were nothing special.
COACHING: C -- Again, it seems as if coach Eric Mangini's rigorous training camp help the Jets find their second wind in the second half. But taking a timeout on defense late in the game with New England facing a third-and-8 at the Jets' 35 was a questionable move. Not only did the Jets not get the defensive stop they needed, they cost themselves valuable time because the timeout followed an incompletion. Going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Jets' 46 while trailing 17-0 also was a debatable call, considering the Jets' struggles with their running game. New England stuffed Barlow and then its offense drove the short field for a TD.
PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. JETS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Tom Brady looked better than he did against Buffalo, but the Patriots' passing attack has yet to take off this season. Brady completed just over 50 percent of his passes for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The offensive line did a much better job at protecting Brady in this game than they did last week. The Patriots quarterback was only sacked once and had plenty of time to throw for most of the day. Still, Brady wasn't as accurate as he should have been; especially considering how successful the running game has been in the first two games. Troy Brown was the leading receiver with four receptions for 51 yards, while rookie Chad Jackson caught two big passes, including his first NFL touchdown. The receivers showed some improvement, so that's a positive sign, but overall the Patriots need to get better in the passing game before they square off against some of the tougher teams on their schedule.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- After rolling over the Bills in the season opener, the Patriots gave the Jets defense more of the same in Week 2. While they only rushed for 3.8 yards per carry, the Patriots racked up 147 yards on 39 carries and once again were able to milk the clock late in the game when they had to. Corey Dillon ran for 80 yards on 20 carries and Laurence Maroney added 65 yards on 16 carries with each back finding the end zone once. The Patriots really grinded it out against a tough Jets front seven. Their longest run of the game was only 14 yards but Dillon and Maroney continue to gobble up positive yardage to keep New England in manageable third-and-short yardage situations. For the second week in a row, the Patriots were able to establish the ground game early and ride it late when they needed to salt away a victory.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Patriots secondary wasn't tested much against the Bills and looked strong again in the first half versus the Jets. However, the wheels came off in the second half for New England. Chad Pennington finished the game going 22-out-of-37 for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery made long touchdown receptions where the tackling by the Patriots defenders was just pitiful. The Coles' catch and run, especially, featured some awful tackling on the Patriots behalf. Eugene Wilson was beaten on both long passes and had a poor game all around. The Patriots did sack Pennington four times and pressured him on numerous other occasions, so that was a good sign. The secondary is going to have to play much better than it did against the Jets with games against the Bengals and Colts coming up.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Patriots were expected to control the Jets' ground game and they did just that. New York managed just 51 yards on 24 carries for a 2.1 yards per carry average. Vince Wilfork continues his impressive play. He and Ty Warren were in the Jets backfield all afternoon. New York had a chance to gain some momentum early in the third quarter but they were stuffed for no gain on third and fourth downs when they only needed a yard. The Jets longest rush of the game was eight yards and many times their running backs couldn't even get out of the backfield. If the Patriots can continue to play run defense like this throughout the year and make opposing offenses one-dimensional, they're going to be tough to beat.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Rookie Stephen Gostkowski had his one attempt from 29 yards out blocked late in the fourth quarter to keep the Jets alive. It was the youngster's first big kick and he didn't get the job done when the team needed him. The ball was low coming off Gostkowski's foot, so he has no one to blame for the kick getting blocked but himself. Laurence Maroney had one nice kick return of 39 yards but the Patriots have nothing even resembling a return game when it comes to punts. Troy Brown either fair catches the punt or returns it for under 10 yards. The team really needs to improve in that phase of the game. The Patriots kick coverage units did a good job against Justin Miller and the explosive Jets returners.
COACHING: B-minus -- The Patriots came out on fire but didn't carry that over for an entire four quarters. Last week they started off slow and rebounded in the second half. This week was just the opposite. They came out hitting on all cylinders in the first half but put it in cruise control in the second half and almost had an easy win slip through their fingers. Dean Pees is doing a good job of calling different blitzes and schemes that are working at the right time. On the offensive side of the ball, Josh McDaniels has to find a way to get Ben Watson involved more in the passing game. The team has played very well at times over the first two weeks but hasn't been able to put it together for a full game yet. It will be up to Belichick to make sure this gets fixed because the Patriots won't be able to beat some of the better teams they face with the kind of inconsistent that's plagued them in their first two games.