How does a team go from losing a battle for first place in a division 45-3 to winning an AFC Divisonal Playoff over the New England Patriots 28-21? Emotion. Well emotion and tight coverage. The defense that we were promised between Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis finally showed up. The coverage was so tight the defenese was able to get to Tom Brady sacking him 5 times and had him uncomfortable and double clutching all night. A defense missing Kris Jenkins and Jim Leonard hadn’t looked this powerful in many weeks. They backed up the bravado and talk that had dominated the week leading up to the game.
Tom Brady couldnt find an open reciever for much of the night and he was getting hit like he had been by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots handicapped their own efforts by beginning the day with Wes Welker on the bench for disciplinary reasons. This backfired and kept them from establishing a rhythm although they moved the football on their opening drive they struggled in close. First they forced Brady into an interception by linebacker David Harris. The lack of a running game came that plagued New England all year showed up at the goal line on the next drive. They tried to pass into the endzone resulting in an endzone drop by TE Alge Crumpler. The chance to get their crowd into the game and raise self doubt in the Jets had come and gone. All of this before we get to New England’s ill advised fake punt which led to a Sanchez to Braylon Edwards to make it 14-3 and an eery blanket of silence cascaded over Gillette Stadium. More important the self doubt started to permeate that Patriot sideline.
The Jets were highly motivated to make amends for the embarrassing defeat a month ago. The emotion of disliking your divisional rival. Rex Ryan and his team turned the tables on the favored Patriots starting with all the trash talk that roped the Patriots into some uncommon ground. No not this week, go all the way back to when Rex was at the podium and made the declaration that they were going after the Patriots. That he hadn’t come to New York to “kiss Belichick’s rings” and the barbs didn’t stop there. Getting under the skin of Bill Belichick is what Rex was trying to do when he said this game was personal about wanting to beat Bill and the Patriots.
With tactical dominance established defensively, the Jet were able to let their offense settle down and get into the game. Mark Sanchez came of age with a solid performance throwing for 194 yards on 16 of 25 passing and 3 touchdowns. Dare we say he outperformed Tom Brady? Yes he did and a rushing attack that complemented Sanchez with over 120 yards rushing kept the clock moving. Once they started to believe as an overall unit the game was effectively over. The Jets received an emotional pep talk from Dennis Byrd before the game and carried his jersey out to the pregame coin toss. They channeled that along with wanting to make amends for their embarrassing defeat a month ago. Add to that the doubting press, and an angry Jet closed ranks and took the field with something to prove. Did they?? LOL See you in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship.