The New England Patriots came out with their muskets firing against the New York Jets on a wet and humid October night in Foxborough, MA on Thursday Night Football. It looked like it would be a banner game for the Patriots after a four-play, 80-yard drive was highlighted by a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to running back Shane Vereen gave the Patriots the lead a minute-and-a-half into the game.
That lead did not last long as the Jets drove deep into New England territory on long, sustained drives on their first five possessions of the game. The Jets dominated the game as they ran 80 plays to the Patriots 53, had 28 first downs to the Patriots 16, 218 yards rushing to the Patriots 63 and controlled the ball for over 40 minutes. But the Jets still lost the game 27-25, falling short on a two-point conversion and a blocked 58-yard, desperation field goal.
The Patriots were gassed physically and mentally on the field after just a three-day turnaround from a tough, physical game against the Buffalo Bills. Factor in the emotional swings that came with the loss of defensive captain Jerod Mayo and starting running back Stevan Ridley, and the Patriots were in a vulnerable position. Fortunately, they escaped the trap game as they rode the leadership and strong play of quarterback Tom Brady and earned a few days of rest after playing four games in the last 18 days.
With the 27-25 win in the books, here are the grades from Thursday night:
The New England Patriots kick-off week seven of the NFL 2014 season as they face-off against their division rival New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. The Patriots are coming off back-to-back victories as they defeated Cincinnati 43-17 on an emotional Sunday night at Gillette Stadium and then went into Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY and beat Buffalo decisively 37-22. Now they face a hungry Jets squad with just one win and five losses.
A short week. A desperate opponent with nothing to lose. A division rival who knows all of the Patriots’ strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. The Patriots coming off two emotional wins and suffering a number of major injuries. It screams “trap game”.
So how do the Patriots avoid a letdown on offense Thursday night versus the Jets? Here are two ways to do it:
Sunday afternoon we saw the New England Patriots face the Buffalo Bills in Week 6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. It was a celebration in Buffalo as the Bills introduced new owner Terry Pegula for the first game with new ownership after over 50 years with the Wilson family. It was bittersweet for the Bills as they fell to the Patriots 37-22. It was bittersweet for New England as well, as starting running back Stevan Ridley and defensive captain and linebacker Jerod Mayo suffered what appear to be season-ending injuries.
The Patriots had a classic Bill Belichick game plan straight out of 2004 as cornerback Darrelle Revis played the role of Ty Law, taking away the top passing threat, who, in this case, was dynamic rookie Sammy Watkins. In addition, he took away what Buffalo does best as the defense and massive tackles Vince Wilfork and newcomer Casey Walker clogged up the middle of the defense. On offense it was the Tom Brady show as the veteran quarterback shook off an ankle injury that occurred at practice on Friday to again light up the scoreboard with a solid performance from an injury-riddled offensive line
It was a celebration in Buffalo as the crowd was noisy and boisterous in Orchard Park, NY as Ralph Wilson Stadium welcomed new owner Terry Pegula. Less welcome was number twelve in the New England Patriots White and Blue road uniforms as quarterback Tom Brady once more faced off against his division rivals to the North, this time with sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the taking.
It was a game about toughness: both teams had strong running games and both teams were determined to not allow the other to control the clock and grind out yards. The Patriots had just 50 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Buffalo ground out 68 yards on 23 carries (all statistics from NFL.com). Both teams were forced to go to the air to try win the game (especially for New England after Stevan Ridley left with a knee injury in the third quarter). The Patriots had Tom Brady behind center and Darrelle Revis matched-up on the Bills top receiving weapon.
Advantage New England
The Patriots have their work cut out for them against a tough Buffalo defense on Sunday. In addition, rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins is emerging as a legitimate star in his first season in the NFL. With Buffalo still having a strong running game still and veteran Kyle Orton stepping in for ineffective second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel, the Patriots will be in for a sixty minute battle against a highly talented squad.
Here is a look at the offensive and defensive game plan for New England to beat the Bills.
The New England Patriots have been treating their fans to a roller-coaster ride of emotions through five weeks. Usually, the result of the season is not in question. Since head coach Bill Belichick had quarterback Tom Brady thrust upon him in the second game of the 2001 season after an injury to franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe, most seasons have followed a predictable result: double-digit victories (every season since 2001 save for 2002) and usually a few post-season games as they attempt to reach yet another Super Bowl.
The roll call of victories during the Brady-Belichick era read like those of the Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Paul Brown, Tom Landry and Don Shula: 11, 9, 114, 14, 10, 12, 16, 11, 10 14, 13, 12, and 12 wins and three Super Bowl titles in five trips. Winning, which was once a scarce commodity in the history of the franchise, has become the expectation.
In 2014, however, things seemed a little off. Unlike in 2013 where a slow start to the offense was blamed on not having All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and were adapting to their rookie receivers, free agent Danny Amendola and no Wes Welker. With the return of “the Gronk”, the offense exploded into its usual juggernaut on the way to 12 wins and a return trip to the AFC Championship game.
The 2014 season has started with a stunning loss to division-rival Miami Dolphins in week one.
After last week against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Monday Night Massacre, the New England Patriots received some understandably harsh criticism in the week leading up to their showdown with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. Against Kansas City the Patriots run defense was carved up like a turkey, and the pass defense was swiss cheese. On offense the running game was invisible and an afterthought, while the passing game never got off the ground due to some poor pass protection and a rattled quarterback.
Now New England was facing off against the best defense in the NFL (11.0 points per game allowed entering the game) and a week of turmoil seemed ready to push the team to the edge of the cliff in Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season. There are just two options when backed up like the Patriots were: fall back off the cliff and watch the season free fall or fight back.
The Patriots came out swinging like a heavyweight champion on Sunday night.
After a blowout loss on Monday night, the New England Patriots desperately needed a bounce-back win in convincing fashion on Sunday night. A 43 to 17 victory later and the Patriots had not only rebounded with a big win but they regained the necessary momentum by beating an undefeated Cincinnati Bengals squad that came in with the top-rated defense.
Each week there is one player who stands out above the others on the field. In Sunday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots had multiple players who stood out on the field and on the statsheet.
Who do you believe should win the game ball?
The first half was all about the Patriots allowing the Chiefs to convert third downs and failing on their own offense in converting first downs. There was little pass rush, little aggressive run stopping, and no matching the Chiefs’ energy and enthusiasm in the first half of the game. The offensive line was not terrible, but hardly great as the Patriots were again out-of-sync on offense.
At long last the New England Patriots seem ready to shake up the interior offensive line!