Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a long field goal in overtime, but was then given another chance due to a New England penalty. Folk converted, Rex Ryan was fired up, and Bill Belichick was not a happy camper. The New England Patriots lost an important divisional game just a week after beating the New Orleans Saints.
The penalty call was obscure, and plenty of people disagree with it. Pretty much everyone watching the game didn't know about the rule, and it seemed like some of the player's weren't even aware of it. It's easy to pin a loss on something like this, but it would be foolish for the Patriots to do so.
New England lost this game, not the referees. It's simple; they didn't do enough to win the game sooner against a team they should have beaten.
Tom Brady was not Tom Brady. He looked better at times with Rob Gronkowski back, but Brady still failed to complete 50% of his passes. Zero passing touchdowns and an interception leading to a touchdown isn't a winning formula for a Hall of Fame quarterback. Despite the fact that he luckily didn't lose any, Brady also fumbled twice.
Yet again, the receivers were nothing special. Gronk racked up 114 yards, but was only able to catch eight passes on a whopping 17 targets. At a crucial moment, he dropped a pass from Brady that he tried to grab with only one hand. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are clearly still learning, and Wes Welker still isn't walking through the door.
Despite the fact that they were getting some production out of their running backs, the Patriots seemed to ditch the running game fairly quickly. Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and LeGarrette Blount combined for 90 yards on just 20 rushes. Meanwhile, the Jets were able to stay in the game by controlling the pace and feeding Chris Ivory.
Without Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib, the New England defense allowed Geno Smith to look pretty good for a lot of the game. This should have been a game where the Patriots feasted on the raw rookie, but they let him hang around long enough to have a shot at the end. You just can't do that.
Sure, it's easy to blame the referees for the loss. The call was a fluke, plain and simple. Then again, so was the "Tuck Rule" that helped the Patriots ultimately get to the Super Bowl. These things happen.
The fact of the matter is that the Patriots should have put away the Jets way before the controversial call, and they can only blame themselves. Good teams don't let teams like the Jets hang around until the end where anything can happen.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings
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