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And just like that, “4th and 2” is a thing of the past. Ok, maybe not…
Sunday’s big 31-14 win over weepy Rex Ryan, mouthy Darrelle Revis, turnover-y Mark Sanchez, and the rest of the New York Jets went a long way to put the Green Machine in the rear view mirror in terms of the AFC East divisional race. The loss, which was their sixth in the last seven games, dropped New York to 4-6 on the year, while vaulting the Pats to 7-3, a mark that has them enjoying a two-game cushion over second place Miami.
New England’s dominance of Sunday’s game began early and came often. From the start, the Pats defense made Jets’ signal caller Mark Sanchez look like the rookie that he is, forcing five turnovers on the day.
It was a win that evened the score between these two squads this season, as the Pats avenged their Week 2 loss at the hands of Gang Green. The win also knotted the historic series at 50 wins a piece (with 1 tie) all-time.
Here now, we shine the spotlight on Sunday’s peak performers from the Pats’ convincing Week 11 victory…
Leigh Bodden, CB
There was only two players I could legitimately start with from that game, and so when in doubt, I always lean towards the defense. Bodden, a shrewd off-season pickup by Bill Belichick & Co., coming over from the Lions, was able to register a trio of interceptions Sunday which tied a team record. The highlight of Bodden’s day was a first quarter pick that he was able to return 53 yards the other way to give the Pats an early lead they wouldn’t look back from. Bodden’s solid work has flown under the radar for much of the season, overshadowed quite often by other standouts in the secondary like Brandon Meriweather and Brandon McGowan. With the high-powered offense of the undefeated Saints next up on the Pats’ schedule, here’s hoping the aggressive, turnover-minded play continues from Bodden and the Pats’ secondary in the weeks to come.
Wes Welker, WR
Bodden & Welker were in a class all their own on Sunday. While Bodden was a playmaker on defense, it was Wes Welker who was the spark plug of the New England offense. After missing the Week 2 matchup between these two rivals, Welker made his presence felt throughout all 60 minutes of play Sunday, catching a career-high 15 balls on the day for an astounding 192 yards. The Jets’ focus was clearly on shutting down Randy Moss, and while they were pretty much able to do that by holding Moss to 34 yards on five catches – one of which was a short TD catch – the Jets’ D had no answers for Welker’s playmaking abilities down the middle of the field. As long as Welker is on the field and is wearing a Pats uniform, I have all the confidence in the world that the team can beat any other team in the league.
Bill Belichick, Coach
I’ve never put the coach in this article… and obviously there have been weeks where he hasn’t deserved to be anywhere near this article… but after a week filled with media members, former Pats players and every other casual football fan turned football strategy genius picked apart his heavily debated call gone wrong, coach Bill Belichick remained unflappable throughout it all. He had his team ready to go, including the defense that many thought he had disrespected last week, and he had them all focused on the task at hand, against a division rival in a key game that gave the Pats some major separation atop the AFC East. Belichick hasn’t been perfect this season, no one on the roster has… but Belichick surely had to make a lot of adjustments this week, and he did his job well.
Honorable Mention: Laurence Maroney, RB. Two TDs will generally get you in this article most weeks, but after a second straight week with a lost fumble, I just can’t do it for you, L-Mo. Limit the backfield dance moves and keep those mitts on the football… you’ll have your “PAT on the Back” soon.