Patriots 45, Jets 3
The Patriots' D finally earned an 'A.'
Against their previous five opponents, including just one team above. 500, the New England defense gave up more than 35 points per game. From all appearances, this inexperienced bunch was far from Bill Belichick's best unit.
Then came Monday night.
In its 45-3 drubbing of the Jets, the New England defense looked as unbreakable as any one of the team's three Super Bowl units.
It was an awful night under center for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had listened all week to glowing praise from coach Rex Ryan about his performance in big games. Instead of delivering, Sanchez watched Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throw up four touchdowns and find open receiver after open receiver without breaking a sweat under the bright lights.
Far from his jawing and accolades a week ago, Ryan was singing a different tune after the loss, which he called the worst in his coaching career.
“Got out-coached, got out-played,” Ryan said. “We got our butts kicked.”
And part of that getting “out-couched” was the performance of Ryan’s second-year quarterback ,who no longer seems to be the game-changer he was just two weeks ago.
It was his second straight disappointing display after failing to light up a depleted Cincinnati defense on Thanksgiving night. Against New England, Sanchez had three interceptions and a passer rating of 28.7, numbers more apropos for the waistline of a quarterback in the Lingerie Football League then the performance rating for a quarterback in the NFL.
“We played poorly coupled with them playing well,” Sanchez said. “That’s not a good formula.”
Seven of Sanchez’s 17 completions came to Santonio Holmes, who was unavailable to play in New York’s Week 2 win at the Meadowlands. Other than Holmes standing tall and proving to be a reliable outlet over the middle, Sanchez’s play was mediocre at best and damning at its worst.
Typifying the effort was the first drive of the third quarter when the Jets, down 24-3, marched down the field and entered the red zone for the first time all game. In the previous nine plays of the drive, which included a LaDainian Tomlinson fourth-down conversion, the Jets offense seemed to come into a groove and were prepared to make a game out of this yet.
But then on the 10th play, Sanchez threw what he called a “flat” pass intended for Braylon Edwards that was picked off by Brandon Spikes.
“I thought we had a great week of preparation,” Sanchez said. “It didn’t look like it tonight.”
Ryan, however, was willing to make excuses for the offense.
“Overall I think he had the three interceptions,” Ryan said. “That’s what happens when you get behind a zillion points.”
What went wrong:
1 Stupid in the secondary — Last week, Rex Ryan called Eric Smith “the smartest person I know,” but the fill-in at safety for Eric Smith had a dumb play in the first quarter that started the rout. Getting caught with his back to the ball, Smith ran into tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. For the Mensa-smart Smith, it was a play that resulted in a 33-yard pass interference call — and two plays later, New England went up 10-0 on a 1-yard cut through the line by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
2 The stop that wasn’t — The Jets forced the Patriots into a fourth-and-3 at the 25-yard line late in the first quarter, but rather than settle for a field goal, Bill Belichick decided to roll the dice already up 10-0. Tom Brady hit Deion Branch on a short underneath route, then the former Super Bowl MVP receiver split Antonio Cromartie and James Ihedigbo and rolled in for a touchdown. The play typified the sloppy, heartless play of the Jets all night long.
3 Sloppy Sanchez — Mark Sanchez played mistake-free in a Week 2 win over New England. Last night, the QB threw balls behind receivers and right to the defense, including one to Brandon Spikes in the red zone on the first drive of the third quarter.
So much for that swagger: Brady, Pats punish Jets
Patriots 45, Jets 3