Tom Brady was anything but his usual self on Sunday, turning in his worst performance of the season. Having to throw in cold, snowy, 30 mile per hour wind gusts did not help. Brady managed to complete just 14 of his 27 pass attempts for 140 yards and an interception. It was Brady's first game this season without a touchdown, while his rating 51.5 quarterback rating illustrated the struggles he had on the night.
Even with Brady's struggles in the passing game, the Patriots were able to move the ball. Laurence Maroney picked up the slack by powering the Patriots a rushing attack with 104 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Maroney almost single handedly matched Brady's output on the day with the exception of a 46-yard Brady to Moss bomb late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots scored first on a defensive stand. On a second and 9 from his own 4 yard line, Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens dropped back into his own end zone to pass. Richard Seymour broke through a weak block at the line to slam into Clemens before he could put his whole arm into the throw. Clemens' pass was a floater, and snared in midair by Patriots safety Eugene Wilson who waltzed into the end zone 5 yards later for the Patriots' first points. It was Clemens' last play of the game as Seymour's hit knocked him out with a rib injury.
The score put New England up top 7-0 in a game where points were few and far between.
The Jets couldn't manage to match the Patriots score, and were forced to punt. The Patriots then took over at their own 17 and marched down the field in the game's longest, and most impressive drive. Seven runs, 2 scrambles and three Brady to Moss completions later, the New England drove to the Jets' 8 yard line where Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 26 yard field goal to put New England on top by 10.
The Jet managed to put points on the board when David Bowens blocked a Chris Hanson punt, then scooped the ball up to rumble 36 yard for the touchdown. It was the first blocked punt of Hanson's career. The play was caused when the snap slipped through Hanson's grip and he bobbled the ball; he took one step, tried to punt, and kicked it right into Bowen's outstretched arms.
New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney (39) runs through a hole as New York Jets linebacker Eric Barton (50) moves in during second-quarter action of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007. The Patriots defeated the Jets, 20-10, to remain undefeated at 14-0. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Unfortunately for New York, the Patriots would return the favor (of blocking a punt) on the Jets' next possession. Kelley Washington, drove through a block on the outside to close in on Ben Graham who tried fruitlessly to get the punt away. Washington's one arm blocked the kick giving the Patriots possession at the Jets 3. Two plays later and the Patriots were up 17-7 at the half.
The second half was filled with more sloppy play. Both teams exchanged field goals before the final whistle sounded. New York appeared to close the gap with under 4 minutes in the game when Chad Pennington threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Justin McCareins. The play was reversed when the officials decided McCareins was still bobbling the ball as he tried to get both feet in. The reversal forced the Jets to eventually try a field goal that ended up going wide. It was another blown opportunity for New York, one they could ill afford to let slip away.
New England held on to the ball to seal the game. Without the Jets miscues at inopportune times (The Clemens interception, The incomplete pass on fourth -and-2 at New England's 17, the blocked punt, a fumble at the Patriots 15 and the missed field goal in the fourth quarter) the Patriots could have been in the same territory they were in against the Eagles and the Ravens - behind late in the game and in need of a miracle comeback.
The strength of New England's ground game surprised many experts who believed the Patriots wouldn't be able to move the ball if they didn't use their vaunted passing attack. Laurence Maroney 's rushing performance set the tone for New England throughout the contest. It was Maroney's second 100-yard game of the season and the third of his career.
For New York, it's back to the drawing board to try to find a way to win. The miscues will certainly be part of their season to forget. The Jets had the weather on their side; they just couldn't find a way to win. That's what happens to bad teams, while the good ones turn nothing into something.
The 14-0 Patriots host the 1-13 Miami Dolphins next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The game was flexed form it's normal 1:00pm kickoff to the 4:15pm starting time to provide for a national audience.
The Patriots are now the second team in NFL history to start a season with 14 wins, and only the third team in history to win 14 consecutive games in a single season. The win marks the third time that a Patriots team has managed 14 or more wins in a regular season. The win is New England's 17th straight regular season win tying the mark set by the 1933-34 Bears for second longest streak ever. New England holds the top record of 18 straight games in their 2003-04 seasons. Randy Moss became the 15 player in NFL history with 12,000 career receiving yards and the second player in Patriots history to record 1,300 or more receiving yards in a single season. Stanley Morgan holds the Patriots single season record of 1,491 yards, a record he set in 1986. Wes Welker's 30 yards on the night gave him his first career 1,000 receiving yard season. Moss and Welker became just the second pair of receivers to record over 1,000 yards receiving each in the same season. The feat was last accomplished by Stanley Morgan and Harold Jackson in the1979 season. ... The victory ensures that the Patriots will maintqin home field advantage throughout the playoffs.