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And with a thunderous thud, down went the Patriots on Sunday, falling 28-14 to the hated New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Jets coach Rex Ryan must have dined like a king after the big win.
Taking a 14-10 lead into halftime, the Pats came out completely flat for the final 30 minutes, outscored 18-0 in the second half and doing all they could to help Jets QB Mark Sanchez look like a real pro quarterback for the first time, well…ever. Tom Brady was actually outplayed by the “Sanchize,” with Brady bit by the turnover bug, throwing two picks and losing a fumble, all while Sanchez threw for three scores and managed his team’s offense with ease.
Now each at 1-1, both teams head into the NFL’s third week with divisional battles ahead of them, as the Pats host the lowly Bills at Gillette on Sunday, while the Jets “take their talents to South Beach” for a Monday night showdown with the division-leading Miami Dolphins.
But before we look ahead to the Bills, we have to close the book on Week 2’s ugly defeat. I have the unenviable task of trying to search for positives to take out of Sunday’s contest. Here’s my best effort, but take this praise with a grain of salt… I think anyone who saw that game knows that no Patriots player really lit the stadium up with their performance. It’s the Week 2 version of “PATS on the Back.”
Prediction: This won’t by the last time we see Hernandez highlighted in the “POTB” columns this season. In a rare game where both teams’ leading receivers were tight ends, the 20-year-old rookie out of Florida was able to haul in all six passes that Brady threw his way, totaling 101 yards on the day. Half of those six grabs came on key third down plays, including a big 34-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter that set up the team’s second touchdown on the day just before halftime. Hernandez is the early receiving yardage leader on the team after two games, topping both Randy Moss and Wes Welker so far. He might be my new favorite Patriot… there’s just not a lot to dislike about the guy so far.
On a day when the defense was torn apart for much of the day, the veteran lineman was one of the lone bright spots. I wouldn’t call the run containment a total success on the day for the front lines of the defense, but Warren did have some luck getting to the quarterback. He racked up two of the three sacks on the afternoon for the Patriots, and did all he could to try and mitigate the tough day the secondary was having. Warren probably won’t have that much luck on the pass rush each and every week, but on a team where pass rushing hasn’t happened with consistency for over two years now, we have to take what we get when we get it.
Due to lack of a better option, I decided to give Moss the third nod this week, based solely on that one-handed circus catch he made over a hobbled Darrelle Revis in the second quarter that gave the Pats a 14-7 lead at the time. Moss caught just two of the ten passes that were thrown in his direction, which we can’t be happy about. But with that incredible TD grab, and the fact that Revis was out of action in the second half with that hamstring boo-boo, I guess we have to declare Round 1 of the Moss-Revis battle a draw. The catch for Moss was a milestone one, as he became only the fourth player in NFL history to reach the 150-touchdown mark, joining Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (208), Emmitt Smith (175), and future Hall of Famer and current New York Jet LaDainian Tomlinson (153). Exact;y 149 of Moss’s 150 TDs were scored as a receiver, with the other one coming on a punt return. All that being said, Moss’s day may have included a milestone touchdown, but he still can’t be satisfied with how he played for the entire 60 minutes. Here’s hoping Brady and Moss can exploit the weak Buffalo secondary and help get this offense back on track this Sunday.