Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots slides as inside linebacker Demario Davis #56 of the New York Jets defends during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets KELSEY KRUZICH Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves

Patriots 49, Jets 19: Notes and Observations from Week 12

Steve Gregory stepped up in a huge way on Thanksgiving night, helping the Patriots dismantle the Jets 49-19. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

To start this off I hope everyone enjoyed a happy and a healthy Thanksgiving with good people and good food. There is plenty to be thankful for from family and friends to good health. However what I am most thankful for is the New York Jets. Without them, the AFC East would be a lot less entertaining and comical. So here’s to the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!

- This game truly could not have gone any better. This had all the makings of a trap loss for the Patriots. Playing on the road, on short rest, after losing your main weapon on offense five days ago, and against a team that was supposed to be fighting for its season. A big help was the team that was supposedly fighting for its season was the Jets, so we sort of lucked out on that one.

- The first quarter went as most expected it to go. The offense was trying to find its rhythm in the wake of losing Gronk, as well as seeing what the Jets defense was throwing at them. The Jets did what they always do and tried to disguise blitzes in different fronts in an effort to confuse Brady and the offense. The first touchdown was a result of a terrifically executed 84-yard drive. There was no huge play that really set the offense up, it was the work of a complete offense. The Patriots utilized short-to-medium passes, along with the tandem running work of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. They were helped by a face-masking call on the Jets, and eventually Brady found Welker in the front corner of the end zone.

- In my last notes and observations piece, I put in the call for Alfonzo Dennard to start opposite of Aqib Talib at the corner position. Sure enough on Thanksgiving, he started in that #2 cornerback slot. Maybe Bill has a thing for obscure Boston sports blogs and took some advice from yours truly.

- Speaking of Dennard he once again earned his playing time tonight. He may not be intercepting passes every game, but he is always right near his receiver. On the Schilens fumble, he turned inside to break away from Dennard. However, Dennard stuck right with him to punch the ball out. He’s shown physicality and appears to have a nose for the ball. How he slipped all the way to the 7th round for some character concerns is beyond me. He is a terrific football player.

- The turnovers by the Jets in the second quarter was Jets football at its finest. Steve Gregory had a whale of a game recording an interception and two fumble recoveries, one of which he ran in for a score. Gregory has taken some heat this season, and I have to admit I haven’t exactly been his biggest fan, but he made a huge impact tonight.

- Vince Wilfork unofficially caused the Mark Sanchez fumble. Wilfork’s pressure up the middle, along with the obvious mis-communication between Sanchez and Greene, led to Sanchez running right into his own offensive lineman. It probably wasn’t how Bill drew it up on defense, but you can’t argue with the results.

- The biggest aspect of the game, which I’m sure everyone was paying close attention to, was how will they replace Gronk? Daniel Fells and Aaron Hernandez were the main tight ends being featured. Hernandez played nearly every snap, which is a great sign that his ankle is healed up. Fells was used as the blocking tight end and had a nice catch and run of his own. It’s hard to really make a judgment on how they will continue with their offense because this was only one game with three days to prepare. I think they will continue to move some pieces around with Gronk out, but it does appear that they will use Fells as a blocker with Hernandez being the main passing option.

- It’s never easy replacing someone who is more often than not the focal point of the offense. This win should ease some concerns because now they have even more time to prepare for life without Gronk before their next game.

- Shane Vereen has been a breath of fresh air in the second half of the season. The Patriots didn’t utilize him very much, if at all, in the first half of the season. Now, it appears they have found a nice use for him in the offense. Some of the members of the Patriots organization have compared him to Kevin Faulk, and the similarities are certainly there. Vereen is incredibly athletic. He has shown the ability to run up the middle, bounce it outside, and catch the ball as a receiver. That 83-yard catch and run was just a case of Vereen outmatching his defender. In this case the defender was Bart Scott. It’s a little guilty pleasure of mine watching big plays happen because of Scott’s obvious deteriorating skill set.

- Edelman leaving the game was a shame, especially because he has turned into a major part of this offense. Hopefully the injury isn’t serious, and the extra time between games will surely benefit him. He had another fantastic night \with the fumble recovery for the score, as well as the long catch and run. It has been a work in progress for the past 4 years with Edelman, but his production this season certainly made it worth it. Not bad for a former college quarterback.

- Tom Brady is playing some phenomenal football recently, and as hard as it is to believe he doesn’t appear to be getting the credit he deserves. He hasn’t thrown an interception since the Seattle debacle, and only has three total on the season. Combine that with the 24 touchdown passes he has already thrown and it’s hard to imagine that no one is bringing his name up in the MVP considerations. This is shaping up to be yet another impressive season from Brady.

- The past five days the Patriots have scored 108 points. I am thankful for the chance to watch and be a fan of one of the best organizations in sports. The past few games the offense has found its groove, and the defense is shaping up well especially with the addition of Talib. The Patriots have gone 8-0 in the second half of the season the past two years, if they can pull it off this year they’ll have a great shot at a first round bye.

- Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

About Steve Bastek - @sbastek12

Graduate of Bridgewater State University with a BA in Communication studies. I've been a Boston sports fan all my life and enjoy having the opportunity to write about it.

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