Report Cards Wildcard: Patriots - Jets

They face each other twice a year in a rivalry known as much for it's proximity via I-95 as it's feud over coaching moves. After splitting the two regular seasons games, the Patriots and the Jets met for the third contest in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. This time it was the Patriots who won the best of three, in somewhat convincing fashion. Here are report cards for each team.


PASS OFFENSE: C-plus -- Chad Pennington threw for a quiet 300 yards. After his 77-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery, the Patriots adjusted and took away the middle of their zone, and the Jets were unable to dink and dunk their way to the end zone after that. Pennington was sacked three times and harassed often.

RUSH OFFENSE: C -- The Jets averaged 4.4 yards per carry but managed only 70 yards, including only 19 in the first half. Leon Washington had 50 yards, including a 19-yard scamper, but the Jets had only 16 rushes and thus were unable to get New England off balance and set up Pennington's play-action. And of course, the disastrous botched lateral happened on what technically would've been a running play.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Tom Brady was in full playoff mode as he carved the Jets up from the opening drive, when the Pats went 65 yards in 10 plays. The Jets had only one sack and missed out on another when LB Jonathan Vilma went for the strip instead of trying to wrap up Brady. New England picked on former Patriot Hank Poteat most of the day.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Jets allowed 158 yards on 38 carries, and that included a minus-1-yard kneel-down by former Jet Vinny Testaverde on the last play. New England already had 101 yards at halftime as the running game set up play-action by Tom Brady, who burned the Jets and LB Brad Kassell, in particular, on a play fake on Daniel Graham's 1-yard touchdown catch just before halftime.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Mike Nugent connected on three of three field-goal attempts and P Ben Graham placed two kicks inside the 20. But the Jets didn't do very much with their six kickoff returns and Nugent's kickoffs again were very short. But the Jets' coverage teams played well.

COACHING: C-minus -- The teacher got the best of the pupil as Bill Belichick, well, schooled Eric Mangini. New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was ready for the Jets' blitzes this time, while Jets defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had no answers for Tom Brady. Mangini's conservatism hurt, too, as he probably should have gone for it on fourth-and-2 from the New England 3 on the Jets' first drive of the second half. Field goals weren't enough in this game.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Tom Brady was sacked four times the last time these two teams met and was hit on a number of other occasions. The outcome was different on Sunday. Brady was only sacked once, as New England's offensive line did a good job of locating where the Jets blitzes were coming from and getting those players blocked. With time to survey the field, Brady threw for 212 yards and connected with seven different receivers. Jabar Gaffney picked a good time to have his first 100-yard game. The former Texan caught eight passes for 104 yards on the day.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The Patriots' longest gain of the day was only 13 yards, although they managed to churn out 158 yards on 38 carries. Laurence Maroney led the team with 69 yards, while Corey Dillon added 53. New England wasn't dominant on the ground but they moved the ball consistently and kept the Jets defense from teeing off on Brady. Kevin Faulk also had some success with quick draw plays up the middle, as the trio helped to wear down New York's defense late in the game.

PASS DEFENSE: C-plus -- Without the luxury of a running game, the Jets stayed in the game by throwing the football. Chad Pennington was 23-out-of-40 for 300 yards and a 77-yard touchdown strike to Jerricho Cotchery. On that play, safety Artrell Hawkins took a bad angle after Cotchery caught the ball, allowing the receiver to scamper virtually untouched into the end zone. New England was able to get heat on Pennington, sacking him three times. However, the Jets quarterback made plays to keep his team in the game and the Patriots once again showed they are susceptible to receivers going over the middle on their defense.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Jets ran for a total of 70 yards on 16 carries. However, they really only had two impact runs the entire day. Leon Washington ripped off a 19-yard gain, while Cotchery took a reverse 14 yards. Other than that, the Jets were shut down on the ground. Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork both had big games. The two were pushed around by New York's offensive line the last time out but that wasn't the case on Sunday. The Patriots defensive front really controlled the line of scrimmage against the Jets, something they'll need to do this week in San Diego as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- Ellis Hobbs is really turning into a dangerous kickoff returner. The second-year cornerback averaged 27 yards a return, with Maroney coming in at 24 yards. Mike Nugent connected on three short field goals but his kickoffs were way too short. He rarely reached the 10-yard line, setting the Patriots up with great field position throughout the game. Justin Miller was kept under wraps by the Patriots coverage units. Meanwhile, Stephen Gostkowski continues to be money. An encouraging sign for the patriots moving forward.

COACHING: A -- After getting outcoached and outplayed the last time versus the Jets, Bill Belichick predictably didn't allow that to happen again. The Patriots were balanced on offense, not allowing the Jets blitzes to confuse them like last time. Brady went right after an injured Andre Dyson on the first series of the game, forcing the Jets to replace him. Defensively, New England stuffed the run and got pressure on the immobile Pennington from the edges. Belichick and his staff did a great job of correcting the problems they had last time out and put together another successful gameplan in the playoffs. Just business as usual in New England.

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