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Friday, October 17, 2014

Only the Jets Could Lose A Game That They Dominated So Much With No Turnovers Either

It took seven weeks but we were finally treated to a competitive Thursday Night Football game. Unfortunately it had to involve the Patriots as they held on for a bizarre 27-25 victory over the Jets at Gillette Stadium. New York (1-6 overall, 0-3 road) actually had a chance to win it on the final play but Nick Folk's 58-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Chris Jones. That was ironic since his shady penalty last year cost New England (5-2 overall, 3-0 home) a win at Metlife Stadium.

The Pats won their third straight game while the Jets dropped their sixth in a row, leaving head bobo I mean coach Rex Ryan destined for the unemployment line sometime soon. In a short week, anything can happen-hence why the Thursday Night games are usually trash (plus NFL players can't recover that quickly between contests). The Jets deserved to win this as they amassed 12 more first downs (28-16), 100 more total yards (423-323) including 155 more on the ground (218-63) and over 20 minutes more time of possession (40:54-19:06) than the Patriots. Neither team had a turnover so you can't point to that for the reason that they lost.

The only explanation for why New England came out on top is because New York settled for four field goals (22, 47, 46, 27) by Folk in the first half. If just one of those, particularly the red zone opportunities, had been a touchdown then it would have been a different outcome. Life without Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley was rough for the Patriots, especially with so little time to readjust. They made the Jets look like a competent offense, led by Geno Smith (20 of 34 for 226 yards, 1 TD; 37 yards rushing) and Chris Ivory (21 carries, 107 yards, TD), which is pretty hard to do.

All that talk of Tom Brady being washed up that dominated our lives just a few short weeks ago seems silly now. He's played very well the last three weeks since all the Patriots/TB12 haters circled Foxborough. Tonight, he was 20 of 37 for 261 yards and three touchdowns. New England didn't muster much of a running game (63 total yards) but four guys had four or more catches: Shane Vereen (5 catches, 71 yards, 2 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (5 catches, 68 yards), Brandon LaFell (4 catches, 55 yards) and Julian Edelman (4 catches, 44 yards). Stephen Gostkowski made two field goals, a 39-yard kick at the end of the first half and a 36-yarder in the third quarter.

I guess with Chris Jones making the play of the game on defense for the Pats, it was only fitting that another nobody-Danny Amendola-had his biggest contribution in 1.5 years with New England. His one catch was huge-a 19-yard touchdown when Brady was scrambling in the pocket and it put the Patriots up 27-19 with 7:49 left in the fourth quarter. The Jets went right down the field and scored, Jeff Cumberland caught a 10-yard pass across the middle by Smith but they couldn't convert the two-point conversion as his fade intended for Jace Amaro went too far. Sweet play call.

It's been a busy stretch for New England with three primetime games in four weeks: Monday, Sunday night, Sunday afternoon and Thursday night. They earned the extra break and they'll need it since their opponents get way tougher starting with Chicago a week from Sunday (1, Fox) at Gillette. After not playing an above average quarterback in their first seven games, you could make the case that New England gets six elite quarterbacks in a row (Cutler, Peyton, Luck, Stafford, Rodgers and Rivers) sandwiched around a bye in three weeks.

The AFC East is still a dumpster fire and the NFC remains far superior so at least their non-division matchups look like they'll be a challenge. That should only help them as they go into the postseason.

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