Sunday, January 07, 2007
The New England Patriots met the Jets in Foxborough, and blew them out 37-16. The game was closer than the score would suggest, but the Pats maintained control almost throughout the contest.
The Pats started off the game in decent field position at the 35. They decided to pick on Dyson as he was inactive until this week. They also seemed to prefer throwing short to the sidelines in an effort to stop the inevitable blitzes of the Jets. The Jets started off with a very Patriot-like defensive alignment in that they had no defensive alignment. Everyone was milling on or near the line of scrimmage. But the Pats, this time, were ready for the blitzes.
Brady hit Gaffney on the flat for 12. Dillon then got the ball and ran for 4. Gaffney got it again for 7, then Dillon again for 2. After an incomplete, Gaffney got another catch for 15 to the Jets 25 yard line. Faulk got stuffed for a loss, then after an incomplete, Brady found Brown for 16 and a first down. Dillon took it off tackle for an 11 yard TD run.
The Patriots ran a no huddle, non-hurry-up offense that kept the Jets from subbing and adapting. 65 yards, 3:07, 7-0 Patriots.
The Pats came out just as aggressively on defense. Banta-Cain got in Pennington's face, along with Seymour, Wilfork, and warren. Tully took him down for a loss of 2. The next play, they got pressure on Pennington again, and forced him to run. Chad got 7, but forcing Pennington to use his legs is a good thing about 99.9% of the time. The Jets were also running no huddle, but the Pats were able to mount good pressure with 4 men and forced an incomplete and a 3 and out.
On the punt, Hobbs got called for holding so the Pats were forced to start from the 10. Maroney took the hand off for 4, then the Pats caught the Jets in the middle of a substitution and got a 5 yard penalty out of it. Maroney got 7, then 4, all in the no huddle. Brady threw incomplete, then he hit Gaffney for 5 on 3rd and 6. Gaffney could have fallen forward for a 1st down, but he seemed to not know where the marker was and he stepped back in an attempt to get running room, only to be tackled behind the 1st down line. The Pats were forced to punt.
Gaffney's misstep was a small mistake. But if we get the 1st down, the drive continues and we may be able to continue moving and pin the Jets deep, or maybe even score again. But unlike mistakes we've made earlier in the year, we didn't let this one kill us.
The Pats stopped the rush up the middle for no gain, but Pennington hit Washington for 11 and a 1st down. They seemed to adjust their protection and the Patriots were finding it difficult to pressure Pennington. After an incomplete, Washington was stuffed for a gain of 1, by Vinny Wilfork who tossed him like a rag doll. I couldn't hear a whistle, but Wilfork got called for a 15 yard personal foul for finishing a tackle.
The Jets got 8 yards after the penalty, but were forced to punt. We got the ball on the 14. Next play, Dillon had the ball pop out and the Jets recovered.
This was another mistake, and could have been a massive one. We've been fouling up like this all season, but this time we did a great job to limit the damage. The Jets got the ball at the 15, but were only able to move 5 yards forward. They kicked a field goal, 7-3 Patriots.
The Pats were able to move the ball from the 30 up to the 48 before they were forced to punt. The 2nd quarter began and the Jets had a 3rd and 7. Pennington found Cochery in space. Vrabel had been on him, and was obviously mismatched. Hawkins came up to stop him, but overran him and missed the tackle. Cochery was sprung free to the sideline and absorbed the tackle of Sanders enough to get into the end zone. It was a bad play by Hawkins, and a good one by Pennington, and cochery. 10-7 Jets. They wouldn't lead for much longer.
Maroney had a nice return to the 42 yard line which set up the Pats drive. Dillon ran for 2, then Caldwell caught a 7 yard pass. On 3rd and 1, Dillon got 8. After an incomplete and a 4 yard throw to Watson, Brady stepped up to elude the rush of Vilma. Vilma was running too fast on the outside to cut back in and was only able to flail wildly at the ball in Brady's hands. But Brady had both hands on the ball, and eventually found a wide enough hole to run for 12 yards. When i say hole, I mean like a third of the field.
On the next play, Poteat got called for PI on Watson so we got the ball on the 3. The Jets did a good job at standing us up and forced a field goal try. It was the first field goal attempt by a Patriots kicker in the playoffs that wasn't Adam Vinatieri since 1994. But Gostkowski hit it, tied game, 10-10.
The Jets came out in a no huddle, shotgun format that worked nicely against us. They drove into our territory before we finally stopped them and forced a punt. But they were protecting Pennington and finally getting 1st downs.
Maroney started the drive with a 6 yard run. Brady hit Watson for 10, then Faulk was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Brady hit Caldwell for 19, then after an incomplete pass, the Kevin Faulk show started. Faulk ran up the middle for 7. Then for 8. Then for 9. Maroney got 2, then Gaffney caught a 13 yard pass. Maroney had a pair of carries for 5 each. It was 1st and goal on the 1. Evans and Maroney got stopped at the line. With 0:14 on the clock and on 3rd and 1, the Pats could go for the end zone twice, or pass once then try a field goal. They threw play-action pass and Brady split the defenders to hit Graham for a touchdown. 17-10 Pats, and they would not give up the lead for the rest of the game.
The second half began with a long Jets drive. They were protecting Pennington, spreading our defense, and finally ran the ball well. They were making a lot of good mid-range passes and racking up 1st downs. They got as far as our 3, but were forced to kick a field goal. The drive ate up 6:41 of clock, which actually was good for us.
The Pats responded with a nice drive of their own. They were in a hybrid of a huddle/no-huddle scheme, gathering after each play but not really huddling. They drove as deep as the New York 15, but on 2nd and 7, Brady was sacked for a loss of 12. After a conservative pass, Gostkowski nailed a 40 yard field goal to make it 20-13.
The game was still close. It was only a 7 point lead with nearly 20 minutes left on the clock. The Jets had been moving well against us and were definitely threats to score a TD. The Jets continued their forward momentum with a 19 yard pass that broke into our half of the field. On the next play, Pennington threw a quick pass to the side. Colvin jumped and the ball hit both hands, but slipped to the ground. Everyone on the field thought the play was over except for the refs and Vinny Wilfork. Vince scooped up the ball and ran down the sideline before being knocked out at the 14. The replays clearly showed the ball travelling backwards, making the play a fumble. This was a game-breaking play, and good heads up football by Wilfork.
The Pats didn't move the ball much, and settled for a field goal, but that made the game a two score contest. We also took 1:39 of the clock, and would force the Jets to mount another complete drive in order to score.
The Jets did drive down the field, but were stalled on the 19. They hit a 37 yard field goal, but the game was still a 7 point game, and the Jets took 3:25 to drive down the field.
There was now 11:32 left in the 4th, and the Pats had the ball. It was kill time. A long drive and/or a score would effectively end the game. They did both. After a strange long pass attempt down the field on 1st down, Maroney gained 2 yards and Brady found Brown for 10 and a 1st on a big 3rd and 8 play. Maroney ran for 8, then for 4. The clock was under 10:00. Caldwell got 13 yards, then Faulk ran for 1. Clock under 8:00. Gaffney caught an 8 yarder to break 100 on the day, and set up a 3rd and 1 run by Dillon which he got 7 on. Under 7:00. The ball was on the 10. Brady hit Watson for 3, then the Pats utilized the Jets blitz against them. The Pats had often been keeping the back in the backfield for additional protection on passing plays. On this play, Faulk went out on a pattern and was wide open. Brady found him, and Kevin found the end zone.
Warm up the bus, the game was over. 30-16 Pats.
There was still 5:00 on the clock, but the Jets would be in a situation in which they'd be passing every play. This meant the line could tee off on Pennington and the coverage guys knew the patterns would be deep so they could sit back. This became very apparent when Samuel picked off Pennington and returned it all the way for a 36 yard TD.
The rest of the game was elementary. The Jets moved forward a bit, but Pennington was sacked on 4th and 10 to end it.
vinny "Victory Formation" Testaverde took a knee to end the game.
Before this tender hug, Belichick manhandled a photographer in his way to meet Mangini.
A lot of guys had great games and good games, which is why we won. Let's start at the top.
Belichick did a great job anticipating what the Jets would do, especially in terms of blitzing. The Jets got some pressure on Brady, but it was inconsistent and sporadic. On offense and defense, we were able to sufficiently surprise the Jets enough to give us an edge.
Tom Brady had a very solid game, throwing a lot of great passes. Some were close to being picked, but these were long jump balls. He was 22/34 for 212 and 2 TDs. It was his 10th straight playoff game with at least 1 TD pass, tying him for 3rd all-time behind Favre and Marino. It was also his 11th win in the playoffs as a starting QB.
Corey Dillon, despite the fumble, had a solid game. He had 10 carries for 53 yards, and a TD. He worked for a lot of extra yardage on every play. He had some big 1st down runs in which he demonstrated a great deal of latteral power. This is something he has that often gets overlooked. everoyne knows he's a great North-South power back, but his power gets displayed when he runs side to side along the line and is able to evade potential tacklers by moving them out of his way. A lot of power backs have trouble on the side, especially when they're unable to square their shoulders. But Dillon is so strong that he can use his arms and upper body to keep defenders from getting good angles on him.
Maroney had a solid playoff debut, rushing for 69 on 18 carries. 3.83 per carry isn't his best average we've seen, but he was very workmanlike and got some tough yardage. He and Dillon helped eat up clock, wear down the Jets, and keep their D-line at home to help pass protection. He also had a big 29 yard kickoff return that set-up a scoring drive.
Kevin Faulk had a good game that is hard to see in the stats. His first few carries went nowhere, but he had some nice runs late in the game and racked up a total of 26 yards on the ground. His 6 carries was a season high. He also caught the game sealing TD pass. Faulk, Dillon, and Maroney all did a phenominal job in picking up blitzes. This is an overlooked part of our RB Corps, but they're very good at it and helped keep Brady from being enveloped.
Jabar Gaffney came out of nowhere to have an amazing game. He had 8 receptions (more than a third of our total catches) for 104 yards. He only had 11 catches all season. This was also his first playoff game and he did very nicely.
Reche Caldwell had a good day at the office with 5 catches for 50 yards.
Troy Brown only caught two passes for 26 yards, but both of these were on 3rd downs and both of these resulted in 1st downs.
Ben Watson didn't look that amazing, but he didn't look terrible. He had 4 catches, but could have had more, including a TD catch. He was hardly in space, though, and didn't screw up any sure receptions.
Daniel Graham had an absolutely amazing game. He only caught one pass for 1 yard, but it was a great TD pass. His blocking and blitz pick up was great. He did a very good job of sealing off the Jets DEs which created huge holes for Dillon, Maroney, and Faulk.
The offensive line looked so much better than they did in November. The Jets were doing a lot to disguise and confuse, but the line was able to answer the challenge. Brady was only sacked once, and we also rushed for 158 total yards.
Vince Wilfork has a great game. He got flagged for a sick tackle, and his awareness shone through when he scopped up the ball and returned it to the 14 on the latteral play. He also ate up a lot of rushers, and did a good job of pushing back the center of the Jets offensive line.
Seymour and warren had solid games. Their 1st quarter pressure didn't last, but they still did a decent job of eating up blocks. The defense was very bendable in the 2nd half, but they did not break. They played very well in the Red Zone today.
Asante Samuel, of course, had a nice INT that ended the game. He had a solid day before that, as did the rest of the defense. We didn't play perfect, but we didn't give up a TD besides the 77 yarder in the 1st half. We didn't allow a TD in the 2nd half, despite the offensive movement of the Jets.
Special teams performed very well. Gostkowski was perfect in place kicking, making 3 field goals, and 4 extra points. He also kicked a touchback. The Pats coverage teams did a good job of preventing any big returns by the Jets. The Jets averaged a mere 16.3 yards in kickoff returns. In punt returns, they only had 1 for 7 yards. Meanwhile, our return team did a good job at getting us decent field position. Hobbs and Maroney combined for a 25.2 return average and we frequently started with the ball beyond the 30 yard line.
Next stop, San Diego to play the Chargers. Should be a good game between two very good teams. By the way, during half-time, Shawne Merrimen of the Chargers predicted the Jets would win. Uh, oh.
For the record, I came up with my headline before I saw this picture.