Jets 28, Patriots 21
What went right:
1. Making 11 Count – Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis made playoff start No. 11 for the Jets, a franchise record. Ellis made it count, recording two first=quarter sacks and five total tackles against the Patriots. None was bigger than a 9-yard sack on a third down inside the Jets red zone that stalled the Patriots offense. New England settled for a field goal on what proved to be a frustrating 11-play, 63-yard drive for the home team.
2. Sanchez Shines – The Jets went up 7-3 with 10:24 left in the second quarter in a drive where Mark Sanchez looked comfortable for the first time all game. Despite a bad Dustin Keller drop on a pass early in the drive, Sanchez rebounded to hit Braylon Edwards for a 37-yard out pattern on a ball that the Jets receiver snared against his shoulder pad as he went out of bounds. Following a Shonn Greene run, Sanchez hit LaDainian Tomlinson on a short pattern as the running back followed his blockers into the end zone for a touchdown. Sanchez finished the game 16 for 25 with three touchdowns and no turnovers. “One day he won’t be looked at as a weakness on this team; he’ll be a strength,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “I think he’s doing that right now.” Following a Week 13 loss at Gillette where the Jets managed just a field goal, the seven points and the lead was feel-good stuff for the visitors and took the sharpness out of a hostile Gillette.
3. The Pats Pay For It – Following their first touchdown of the game, the Jets and Patriots exchanged punts on their next drives and when New England failed to convert on third-and-4 on their next drive, they decided to roll the dice and go for a trick play. Instead of punting, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called for a fake punt but the snap instead caromed off the leg of New England’s Patrick Chung and was snuffed out quickly by Eric Smith. After two runs by Tomlinson produced 22 yards, Sanchez found Edwards two plays later for a 15-yard touchdown pass in which the Jets wide receiver shrugged off two would be tacklers. The 14-3 lead carried its way into halftime of a very quiet stadium. “After the feeling last time here, this feels real good,” right guard Brandon Moore said.
What went wrong:
1. Folk It Up – The Jets took over in prime field position on New England’s 12-yard line following a David Harris interception of Tom Brady and a return of 58 yards. It was Brady's first turnover in nearly 400 pass attempts. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer then messed up a good thing with some questionable play calling that led to a Greene run for a three-yard loss and then a Tomlinson catch that was blown up for a five-yard loss. Nick Folk capped the misadventure of a drive with a missed 30-yard field goal two plays later. Not the start the Jets wanted.
2. A Case of the Dropsies – It was an efficient, turnover-free performance for the Jets but it was marked by some sloppy play. In the first half, Santonio Holmes dropped a very catchable ball from Sanchez and Keller missed on one that hit him in the breadbasket. The Jets dropped chances that could have extended drives but Holmes more than made up for it with an acrobatic catch to all but seal the game in the fourth quarter.
3. The drive that made things too interesting – The Patriots followed a Jets punt late in the third quarter with a drive that cut significantly into the Jets 14-3 lead. The eight-play drive went for 80 yards and was capped off by an Alge Crumper 2-yard touchdown pass. “They are going to make plays on you,” Ryan said. The game would see-saw after that, but the Jets would hold on.