After all the trash talk, Jets remain defensive
September, 20, 2009
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
|Nick Laham/Getty Images|
|Jets defenders Shaun Ellis and Kerry Rhodes followed through on their promise to play the Patriots tough.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One good drive, three plays really, is all the New York Jets needed.
Leon Washington opened the second half with 43-yard kickoff return. On the next snap, Mark Sanchez found Jerricho Cotchery for about 15 yards, but a missed tackle turned the play into a 45-yarder. Two plays later, Sanchez feathered a pass to Dustin Keller for a touchdown.
The game's only touchdown was the difference in a 16-9 victory Sunday over the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands.
"We didn't play those three plays very well, and they did," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "That's what the Jets do. We gave them an opening, and they took it."
It was enough because the Jets' frenetic defense has yet to yield a touchdown this season. It's been phenomenal, suffocating the Houston Texans in Week 1 and following up with an equally convincing performance against a perceived Super Bowl contender.
Through eight quarters, two respectable offenses haven't breached the Jets' end zone. The last time the Jets went consecutive games without giving up an offensive touchdown was 1993.
"We're a football team that should be respected," said Rex Ryan, the Jets' head coach and defensive mastermind. "Sometimes, you know, we talk a little bit, but only because we have confidence in our football team. We believe it to be true that we're an outstanding football team."
Ryan and his players refused to speak softly and still carried a big stick. They clobbered the Patriots, just as they proclaimed they would.
Kerry Rhodes' objective "to embarrass" the Patriots didn't materialize. The game was too close, and the 78,312 fans were silent a few times late in the game, when the Patriots would make an occasional play.
The Jets, however, made good on their threats to give Tom Brady fits.
"You might say we talk too much, say that maybe it's time to put up or shut up," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said. "I think we showed up like we said. We're going to show up to all 16 of them, and we'll see how it goes from there.
"We fear nobody. I'm not afraid of anybody. This is football. This ain't life or death here. It's a game. You can't be afraid to be great."
The Jets snapped an eight-game home losing streak to the Patriots. The vaunted Patriots offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a shutout loss to the Miami Dolphins in December 2006.
A look at the box score shows the Jets failed to sack Brady. That doesn't mean Mr. Everything was comfortable in the pocket. The Jets registered seven quarterback hits, with David Harris given credit for three. They chased him around, bashed him as he threw, forced him to hurry.
"We're great as a defense," said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had an interception and -- one week after bottling Andre Johnson -- held Randy Moss to four catches for 24 yards.
"We put a lot of pressure on him and confused him."
Brady completed 23 of 47 passes for 216 yards and an interception. He took the Patriots into the red zone three times, but they came away with field goals. Rattled?
Brady was flagged for delay of game three times, including back-to-back plays in the third quarter to take them out of field-goal range.
Scott was asked if the Jets made Brady uncomfortable.
"I don't know," Scott replied. "Maybe he liked people around his feet, people hitting him in the chest, throwing people in front of him on the ground. Some people might not be uncomfortable in that situation."
Broached a different way, Scott smiled and answered a little less sarcastically.
"Every time I've played Brady, we rattled him," Scott said, referring to his days with the Baltimore Ravens, where Ryan was the defensive coordinator. "That's not nothing new for me. That's a rerun."
Even more remarkable is the Jets have seemed so amazing without playmaking outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who's serving a four-game suspension. They also went without defensive end Shaun Ellis last week because of a one-game suspension. He started Sunday.
While rookie quarterback Sanchez had an impressive game in his NFL debut at Houston last week, the Jets' defense carried him Sunday. Sanchez was 3 of 5 for 15 yards at halftime. Take away that one scoring drive and he was 12 of 20 for 109 yards.
"We really played bad in the first half," Washington said. "They really held it down for us in the first half. I can't thank those guys enough."
If the Jets' defense keeps playing like this, no amount of thanks will be enough.