So it looks as if the New York Jets are not all talk. The New England Patriots showed up at the Meadowlands on Sunday to teach the Jets a lesson and were punched in the face by a fast and smart Jets defense. This was the first time the Jets have beaten the Patriots at home since the 2000 season. The Jets came out swinging from the opening kickoff and did not let up during the game. In the process, they sent a message to the league that they should not be overlooked.
We have to start this off by talking about the defense. What a performance by Rex Ryan's bunch, holding the Patriots without a touchdown in a game for the first time since December 2006. The defensive line held strong all afternoon, limiting to the Patriots to 83 rushing yards. Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor only ran the ball 14 times in the game for a total of 69 yards. The defensive line, with the return of Shaun Ellis, was able to shut down the run and keep pressure on Tom Brady as well. Kris Jenkins and Shaun Ellis are looking as strong as they did midway through last season when the Jets had one of the most solid defensive lines in the NFL. Not only are they plugging the holes for the running backs, they are creating openings for the line backers to bring the blitz. The line is looking very good to start the season.
The secondary also looked great on Sunday. With the defensive line taking away the running game, Brady was forced to pass the ball 47 times. Darrelle Revis is becoming one of the top three cornerbacks in the NFL. He was matched up with WR Randy Moss and was able to hold Moss to 4 catches for 24 yards. Late in the first quarter, Brady threw to Moss on a streak down the right side and Revis took the ball out of Moss' hands for the interception. Last week, Revis held Andre Johnson to 4 catches for 35 yards. Just to be noted, in week 2 against the Titans, Johnson hauled in 10 catches for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The rest of the secondary is playing great also. Jets CB Lito Sheppard, who was flagged in the second quarter for interference, followed up the penalty on the next play by knocking the ball away from a Patriots receiver in the back of the end zone. New England had to settle for a field goal. The only negative on the secondary was the coverage on Patriots rookie WR Julian Edelman. Edelman was filling in for injured WR Wes Welker, who did not play due to a sore knee. Edelman was able to 98 yards on 8 catches, mostly out of the slot position. Other than that, the secondary was as good as advertised.
The offense was able to manage the game for the second week in a row. Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez again started off a little shaky but rebounded in the 2nd half to lead the Jets to the win. It did not start off that well for Sanchez though. He was sacked on the first play from scrimmage for the Jets and fumbled the ball. The Jets were able to recover the ball on their own 3 yard line avoiding serious damage. New York was unable to get anything going in the 1st half. Sanchez only had 15 yards passing in the 1st half of the game, but they came out firing in the 2nd half.
The Jets received the ball to start the 2nd half and made an impact right away. After starting on their own 44 yard line, Sanchez hit WR Jerricho Cotchery down the middle for a gain of 45 yards. Two plays later, Sanchez hit TE Dustin Keller for a 9 yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. On the next possession, Sanchez hit WR Chansi Stuckey for an 8 yard touchdown, but the score was called back on a challenge by New England. The Jets settled for a field goal. Overall on the day, Sanchez was 14-22 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He is not making stupid mistakes and is protecting the ball very well so far.
The running game was solid although no one stood out in particular. Jets RB Thomas Jones was able to gain 54 yards on 14 carries, while RB Leon Washington gained 58 yards on 14 carries. Neither, Jones or Washington was able to break off any huge plays from the line of scrimmage. They did do their best to control the game clock. Both teams controlled the game clock for about 30 minutes a piece.
The Jets talked trash all week leading up to the game and backed it up in a big way. They were able to keep Brady on his toes all day. He was never able to get into a groove, constantly looking at the defense trying to read the blitzes. Jets S Kerry Rhodes said that the Jets wanted to "Embarrass" the Patriots. They didn't embarrass them, but they did hang with them. And in the end they were the better team on Sunday. It was the first time since 2003 that the Jets defense has gone two games without allowing an offensive touchdown. It was also the first time in 2 years that Tom Brady completed under 50% of his passes. The last time that happened was against Rex Ryan's Baltimore Ravens defense.
Its only week two in the NFL, but the Jets look good. As long as the defense keeps playing like they are, then rookie QB Mark Sanchez will not have to do more than just manage the game for the time being. The running will be better than is was against New England and the defense will continue to improve. With the addition of LB Calvin Pace in three weeks, this defense will be very scary. The win against the Patriots was huge, but there are still 14 games remaining. And after last season, its never good to get too excited too early.