On a day where Patriots fans were breathing a sigh of relief because of the return of Vince Wilfork and Benjamin Watson, they definitely had a lot to cheer about. The game plan on paper came to fruition and the Patriots outplayed, outhustled and outcoached the tough, scrappy Jets team.
Good hustle and timely playing was evident all over the field today.
One of the good examples of the Patriots hustle was in the second half where Chad Pennington threw the ball that was tipped by Rosevelt Colvin which ended up being a behind the line lateral. The entire Jets team just stood around as Wilfork picked the ball up and continued to hustle (or rumble) down the field and act like Johnny on the spot. The team played like this all day long.
The New England Patriots brought their playoff swagger today to the table. Not that it wasn't expected by the New York Jets which was evident when wide receiver L. Coles was asked it if was going to make it easier to play against the Patriots for the third time, "We're playing against New England and any time you play a team like New England three times in the same year, it doesn't make it any easier."
The Patriots won the game in the end by 21 points in a decisive and commanding victory with a plethora of players coming through. Players like Jabar Gaffney receiving 104 yards on the day establishing new career highs with the Patriots. He entered today's game having totaled 11 catches for 142 yards on the season. Players like Stephen Gostkowski making 3 out of 3 field goals this week after a sloppy performance last week against the Titans. How about Tully Banta-Cain recording 2 sacks and being all over the field tipping balls and causing havoc everywhere? This young man seems to have what it takes to possible be the predecessor to Tedy Bruschi when he is done with his great Patriot career. Another defensive player to talk about, wait we talk about him every week almost, is Asante Samuel who intercepted the opposing quarterback yet again this season, only this time returned for a touchdown.
All facets of today's game was controlled and maintained by the New England Patriots. The fans were loud and the atmosphere had the aroma of playoff football.
This game on paper was over matched by the talent filled Patriots roster but in the playoffs, it doesn't matter what should happen it really matters what DOES happen. And the Patriots held their ground and brought their A-Game today.
Earlier this week when backup ageless quarterback, Vinny Testaverde was asked what playing for Bill Belichick is like and he summed it up, "I think Bill has his philosophy on how to be successful and he goes about his coaching or preaches to his coaches and players what he wants to get done and he's done it as good as anybody that I've been around. He knows a lot about all facets of the game, all positions, offense, defense, special teams. He knows what wins games and what loses games. When you break it down on a week-to-week basis, [those things are] different. He takes each team, he breaks them down, and he applies what he thinks we need to do to win." I would have to say that this is true in so many different ways; especially during today's game.
The only play that was a blemish on the day for the Patriots was a deep pass across the middle to Jericho Cotchery for a 70 yard touchdown. A blown coverage play that if didn't occur; this game wouldn't have even been close.
I have already read a couple of other media responses to the game today and found a lot of them to say that this game was closer then the score depicted. I couldn't disagree more. I thought if it weren't for a few "three and outs", the Patriots would have dominated this game the entire time.
If I were to look back and choose a player of the game or star, I would have to say there were no most valuable players in today's game. The entire team came to play and made their last home game of the 2006-2007 campaign one that was worth the price of admission for the fans.
Now this New England team is off to the west coast where they will take on the league MVP Ladanian Tomlinson and his high charged San Diego Chargers. This will be another true test on their drive and mission to Miami.
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.