After a frustrating week, the Jets overcame another sluggish start and an injury to Darrelle Revis to post their first win of the season over their AFC East rivals. The Jets had only held the ball for three plays and gained 5 yards in the first quarter, which was especially disconcerting following their inability to move the ball in the season opener against the Ravens. Things went from bad to worse, as Revis pulled his hamstring late in the first half. However, Rex Ryan‘s halftime defensive adjustments paid dividends and the Jets were able to post a shutout in the second half, as their offense also finally got going.
The Patriots’ inability to run the ball put them into a lot of passing situations in the second half, which the Jets were able to exploit. They also struggled to get pressure on Mark Sanchez after halftime and he was able to punish them with the first three-touchdown game of his young career.
Perhaps the biggest story from this game was the injury to Revis and how the Jets were surprisingly able to shut down the Patriots’ passing attack without him in the second half. Although he only gave up two catches for 38 yards (34 of which came on the play when he was injured), Revis did not appear to be his usual self and was out of position on at least two other plays. He was clearly limited by the injury, and posted an uncharacteristically low coverage rating (-2.2). The Jets overcame the loss by putting Antonio Cromartie on Randy Moss in the second half and playing more zone coverages. They were also able to slow Wes Welker down, often by bracketing him at the line of scrimmage with a linebacker and a defensive back to disrupt his underneath routes.
The other big story was Sanchez, who had a career day in terms of completions and touchdown passes. His rating (+3.1) was higher than in any game during the regular season last year, although he did surpass that number twice in the postseason. Despite this, his rating was not that much higher than last week, because he still held on to the ball too long a few times and got away with a few ill-advised passes. On the whole, it was an encouraging performance, but there is still room for improvement.
Arguably the biggest key to the Jets win was the fact that they were able to hold the Patriots to just 52 yards rushing on 20 carries, despite the fact they had at least five defensive backs in the game on all but five plays. The run defense was anchored by Mike Devito (+3.4), but the Jets also got a boost from the oft-criticized Vernon Gholston, who posted a career best rating overall (+1.7), despite only being on the field for 10 snaps.
It was a rough afternoon for Darius Butler (-4.0), who gave up five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown and was also called for two pass interference penalties. Butler was beaten for a 39-yard gain on a play-action pass to Dustin Keller, but he wasn’t alone. The Patriots clearly didn’t feel they had anyone who could match up with Keller, because eight different players were thrown at while covering him. Keller responded with seven catches for 115 yards and the clinching touchdown.
Gerard Warren (+1.5) helped spearhead an admirable effort by the front seven, which meant that none of the Jets offensive lineman — several of whom were among the league leaders last year — was able to post a grade above 1.0. Warren finished with two sacks and a pressure, but was the only player on the team to post a pass-rushing grade better than 0.5 (+1.4)
The struggles of New England’s offensive line in this game may be an indication that the unavailability of Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur will hit them harder than we first thought. The five starters combined to give up 11 pressures and only Stephen Neal (+0.7) posted a positive grade overall. Sebastian Vollmer (-3.9) in particular had a difficult game, but veteran Dan Koppen (-2.0) did not fare much better.
Kyle Wilson didn’t seem to find covering Welker to be an easy task, but he got some help and managed to hold him to just two catches. He also had a decent game against the run to post a creditable overall rating (+0.6). Fullback John Conner saw limited action on offense (six snaps), but has yet to make a positive impact (-1.1).
While it felt like the Jets were picking on veteran Butler, rookie Devin McCourty was actually thrown at seven times — one more than Butler (not including penalties) — and fared much better, giving up just 29 yards on five catches. One bright spot defensively was the play of Brandon Spikes, especially against the run (+3.1). Jermaine Cunningham (+1.4) also had a solid game, despite playing just 17 snaps. The best offensive rookie performance on the day came from Aaron Hernandez (+1.5), who caught all six passes thrown his way for over 100 yards. Fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski had less of an impact (+0.5), only catching one pass. Kyle Love saw action briefly at nose tackle and Zoltan Mesko (+1.5) had a good game punting.
For the Jets, at free safety, Brodney Pool did not play in the first half, but Eric Smith did not play in the second half … After Revis was injured, Drew Coleman saw extensive playing time (27 snaps) despite only being on the field for one play against the Ravens … Revis and Pool have yet to play together.
For a more detailed breakdown of this game, see this article from our Jets Team Correspondent: http://www.thejetsblog.com/2010/09/23/bga-patriots-at-jets/