We were told it would be the game of the year. We ended up getting the most merciless beating any team has suffered in the NFL this season.
So what do we take from it? Does the 45-3 massacre of the Jets mean the Patriots are the dominant team everyone's been looking for this season? Does it mean that the Jets were never as good as we thought they were, or they claimed to be? Or is this beatdown just an anomaly; one of those blowouts that happens from time to time, but in the grand scheme, doesn't mean much?
The evidence points to the Patriots being very, very good and the Jets maybe not being as good as they've advertised.
Both coaches, Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick, had 10 days to prepare for this, and both acknowledged that the game was huge. If any game could be a reflection of how well one coach prepares against another coach, it was this one. And, well, to be kind ... advantage, Patriots.
This also wasn't one of those games where there's a mistake early, a team got a couple of bounces, things snowballed, and the next thing you know, it was out of hand. From the opening kickoff, the Patriots were just clearly better, particularly when they had the ball. They had the Jets solved. For the Patriots, it was like fighting Piston Honda knowing that every time he raises an eyebrow, he's about to throw a jab.
On the other side of the ball, the dominance wasn't quite as pronounced. The Jets did manage a solid ground game, as both LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) and Shonn Greene(notes) had moderate success. It's not often you see a team run the ball that well and still lose by six touchdowns.That happened, though, largely because Mark Sanchez played more like Mark Malone. It wasn't just the three crippling interceptions, either. He completed just 17 of his 33 throws, only two of them for more than 20 yards, and one of those was mostly YAC. He simply was never a threat. In his defense, it's fair to note that all three of his interceptions came with the Jets already left in the dust, meaning they had to throw more than they wanted to. Still, three interceptions are three interceptions.
It's easy to do this now, but when looking back at the Jets schedule, maybe it was a mistake to be so enamored with them to begin with. They haven't played a lot of good teams, and when they have, they haven't had much success.
Outside of the Patriots, they've played the Dolphins, Bills, Vikings, Broncos, Lions, Browns, Texans and Bengals. All of those teams are somewhere between "mediocre" and "not very good." When they have played good teams -- the Ravens in Week 1 and the Packers in Week 8 -- they've lost, and Mark Sanchez has been terrible in those games.
That leaves the two games against the Patriots, the first of which they won by two touchdowns. And again, I know it's easy to look back and draw these conclusions now, but that Patriots team was so different. The young Patriots defense has had 10 games to gel since then, and the offense was completely reshaped with the departure of Randy Moss(notes).
Fortunately, we'll get to see more of both of these teams against solid competition. The Jets still have the Bears and Steelers on the schedule, and the Patriots still have the Bears and Packers. We'll find out for sure in the coming weeks, but for right now, it feels like the Jets got exposed Monday night.
- Mark Sanchez