Maybe it was the Thursday night jinx. Maybe the rain played a factor.
But for the second week in a row, the Patriots were fortunate to beat a division foe, barely outlasting the Jets, 13-10. And it was ugly all the way around,
Tom Brady looked very frustrated most of the night, and it took a big effort from Julian Edelman (doing Danny Amendola doing Wes Welker), who had 13 clutch catches for 78 yards, and 72 more yards on punt returns, for the Patriots to come out winners despite a skill-position group that has been torn to shreds. Incredible: Brady had only 19 completions on 39 attempts for 185 yards.
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Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith impressed with his throwing ability at times, throwing for 214 yards — 29 more than Brady had, on four fewer attempts — and rallied from several big hits
But Smith took four sacks, burned timeouts unnecessarily and was too slow to process information and react on a red-zone interception in the fourth quarter that quashed a great scoring opportunity with the Patriots vulnerable. Smith got the ball back with 56 seconds left from his own 29-yard line — a more favorable situation than in Week 1's comeback against the Buccaneers — but threw a horrible pick that landed in the hands of Aqib Talib. It was Smith's third INT of a night that started so promisingly.
That final pick led to a huge scrum with 38 seconds left, as Jets center Nick Mangold went very low to tackle Talib, who dilly-dallied before going out of bounds. It was just another feisty chapter in the bitter Jets-Patriots rivalry as a slew of players pushed and shoved, and two Jets, Willie Colon (hitting an official) and D'Bricashaw Ferguson (throwing a punch), were ejected. Expect hefty fines — at least — for Colon, Ferguson and Mangold.
Dropped passes were the story of the night, for both sides, in what was a horribly tough game to watch. Aaron Dobson, despite a first-NFL-play TD, dropped two straight in the series in which Brady lost his cool on the field and on the sideline. Clyde Gates dropped what would have been a touchdown for the Jets, and Kenbrell Thompkins couldn't haul in what looked like a pretty TD for New England. There were at least a dozen drops combined for the two teams, and it went beyond the wet field conditions.
The Jets controlled the action for much of the night with a rhythm passing game and a bruising rushing attack, but they only could mount one touchdown drive. Smith's second interception of the night, with 4:23 remaining, was his second poor decision on an otherwise pretty good night throwing the football.
Brady and the offense took over after that but could not run out the clock. They had problems sustaining drives all night.
Looking forward, there are concerns for both teams. The Patriots might be 2-0, but they have some serious self-scouting to do to find ways to move the chains consistently before Rob Gronkowski and Amendola return to the lineup. Throwing the ball that times to Edelman, as game as he was, just isn't a winning strategy for the long haul.
For the Jets, it's clear that Smith can make all the throws. He has special arm talent. He just needs more refinement in the other facets of his game, and it wouldn't help if his receivers could hang onto the ball. But things turned ugly fast late, and it's clear that Smith is going to have some rocky Sundays this year.
These two teams right now are not as far apart, talent-wise, as they have been the past two seasons. The close score is a pretty good indication of that. In the end, the Patriots were just a little better.
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