If anyone had any doubt about how good this Patriots team was, or how bad the New York Jets were, Thursday Night was just the showcase to convince people about the stark contrast between these two football teams. If Rex Ryan actually believes that the squad that showed up to play Thanksgiving night actually had a shot to catch the Patriots for the outright division lead, he is more delusional than I thought. Before we get to my thoughts, this game featured easily the sloppiest 54 seconds of football any team has played, and it took the game from competitive to a downright laugher.
The Patriots got the ball with 10:06 left in the second quarter after Brandon Spikes forced yet another fumble; on the very next play, Brady called a quick hot route for Shane Vereen, which led to an 83-yard scamper up the sideline for a score. Two plays into the Jets’ drive, a cross up on the handoff led to Mark Sanchez running directly into his own lineman (getting leveled in the process), fumbling the ball. This was recovered by Steve Gregory and run in for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, Devin McCourty popped the ball out of Joe McKnight’s arms, and Julian Edelman was there to grab the ball and run that in for a touchdown. That one-minute span was all anyone needed to know just how far apart these teams really are.
- Steve Gregory took advantage of his opportunities to shine. He logged five solo tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries on the night. I still think he could afford to polish up his tackling, but for this week, he gets a “+” performance from me.
- The defense continues their turnover happy spree. Five turnovers on the night is incredible. NBC flashed a stat about how the Patriots have the longest active streak of games with at least one takeaway. If they keep playing like this, that should last for the rest of the year.
- Tom Brady looked excellent yet again. Another 300+ yard performance with three scores. This team didn’t miss a beat without Gronkowski, but it remains to be seen if his presence will be missed against the league’s elite defenses.
- It’s nice to have Aaron Hernandez back on the field. He had one nice catch for 28 yards. He also could have had a touchdown, but had it taken away on what seemed to be a very light push-off call in the fourth quarter.
- Stevan Ridley getting the bulk of the carries (21) made me extremely excited. The more this kid succeeds, the better and more well-rounded this Patriots team becomes.
- The special teams unit may have been the biggest negative during this game. Stephen Gostkowski blew a chance in the first quarter to put the Patriots on top when he missed a 39-yard field goal. The Pats’ return team also only averaged 9.25 yards per return, a number that needs to go up in the future.
- Julian Edelman was just finding his stride over the last two weeks, but he was knocked out of the game by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by LaRon Landry. If he isn’t able to go next week, the Patriots will be forced to adjust their offensive strategy again. Let’s hope no one gets injured against the Dolphins because the Pats will have two tough game plans in a row after that game, and they will need all hands on deck.
- The Patriots continued their woes versus opposing teams’ tight ends. If you read up on how to replace Gronkowski as your fantasy tight end this week, you may have started Dustin Keller, and he did not disappoint; he had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. With Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels coming up, this defense needs to contain that position better.
- After a breakout week, Talib was nowhere to be seen. He made a limited impact and Mark Sanchez put up 300 yards in the air, 86 of which went to Jeremy Kerley, the Jets’ number one receiver. I hope Talib can continue to be the impact player they need him to be.
The Patriots now have an extended break before they face the Miami Dolphins in Foxboro next Sunday. This win would put them one step closer to a division title, and with Houston looking more and more vulnerable, the Patriots need it to get closer to scoring a top two seed in the AFC.
All stats courtesy of NFL.com
Tags: Jets, Mark Sanchez, Negatives, Positives, Steve Gregory, Thanksgiving, Tom Brady, turnover