As the Jets came into Gillette stadium, all they heard was media outlets and 'experts' stating that the New England Patriots were going to manhandle them in all facets of the game.
Eric Mangini performed as his mentor, Bill Belichick usually does and had his team geared up to show the experts wrong. He looked as if he used it as blackboard material and locker room motivation for his 4-4 Jets.
After spending the bye week preparing for the Pats, the Jets looked fast, fresh and ready to play. They didn't put up huge numbers today but they took the old Herman Edwards adage of they "played to win the game."
This game was dominated in all aspects of the game by the New York Jets. The one area that was a definite difference maker in the game was special teams for the Jets. This included a 62-yard return by the Jets Justin Miller who is going to be special with his breakout speed. They looked great in punt returns and kickoff returns and they also pinned the Patriots various times deep.
The other aspect of the game that Patriots fans seemed to forget about was the Pennington factor. He was not at all perfect but he made plays when he needed to keep his Jets in the ballgame. He made clutch third down and fourth down passes including two lob passes to the outside over the defenders directly in his line of sight. Brady's take on Pennington earlier in the week pays a huge compliment on the Marshall University alum, "I like Chad a lot. He works extremely hard and I like him as a person and as a player. I think he's very effective when he's out there. He's had some tough injuries and, talking about resiliency, he's fought back probably harder than anybody. It showed a lot about his character that early in the year when the coach says 'alright it's open competition' and he doesn't bat an eyelash. He says, 'okay, well that's what it is and that's what it's going to be' and he goes out and wins the job anyway. [The Jets] are in great hands with him and Coach Mangini."
You knew the protection of Tom Brady was going to be breaking down when you saw that two of their starting (Stephen Neal) and backup offensive lineman went down with injury. Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson and Ty Warren were all out of the game depleting the defense more and more. Then to see Richard Seymour go to the sidelines was a sight that the Patriots definitely did not want to see. With Harrison gone in the secondary, the Jets coach Mangini talked this week about how important Rodney Harrison is to the Patriots, "Rodney is one of my favorite guys that I've ever worked with because as a player he's just outstanding. He has rare instincts. He has that drive that you see in a lot of the great players. I was always impressed by how he wanted to take every snap with the show team every practice. His leadership, his poise, his determination, he's got so many great characteristics that are hard to replace."
It seemed today that every down the young New England quarterback was pressured, hurried or sacked. And to top it all off it was just so fitting that the pressure came from the blindside to cause a fumble to end the game.
As I watched the game, watching the defensive schemes and patterns of the Jets, I saw a definite stamp of Belichick on Mangini's defense. It was actually quite a sight to see as a patriots fan because you are so used to seeing that on the silver and blue side of the ball. Rotating, mass confusion and a lot of 'johnny on the spot' plays across the board.
As the fog rolled into the stadium and the raw, damp conditions were playing havoc on the field. Not that it played a major role this afternoon because there were some great catches on both sides of the ball. But if you looked at the uniforms of all of the players, they looked like they went to war. A battered and torn number 12 was barely visible by the mud cover.
Another reason for the patriot's demise today was the inaccuracy or Tom Brady. Various times today he threw behind and over the heads of wide-open receivers. He looked as if he was trying to walk on eggshells and not make the big mistake. He was not slinging it around with confidence as he usually does. I think that one can attest that to the fact that the offensive line was weak and porous all day long.
One thing that I heard all week long after the Colts game was, "How can Bill Belichick give up on the run, I don't get it." Well you couldn't say that about today. They tried to pound it up the middle and around the corners against the normally weak Jets defensive unit.
Overall this was a well-coached, well-executed and very important victory for the Jets. They looked hungry and aggressive and deserved to win this game. The Patriots looked flat again while trying to get things straight on the field. With the AFC East division lead only one game and with the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre putting up over 300 passing yards today with 2 TDs against the Vikings, the Patriots better be careful and bring their 'A' game next week at Lambeau field.
Shane is a lifelong Patriots fan who grew up in Worcester, MA. He showed his Patriots spirit representing his home team all over the world while in the military and attending games regularly through the years. He now resides in Bangor, ME where he roots for them from afar. He stands firm in his belief in the team and regularly makes the 500 mile round trip trek to watch them whenever he can.