AFC East: 2011 Week 5 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 30, Jets 21

October, 9, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets lost their third straight game, falling to the New England Patriots 30-21 at Gillette Stadium.

What this means: Rex Ryan's crisis-management skills will be tested. The Jets (2-3) dropped below .500 for the first time since starting 0-1 last season, and there are signs of dissension in the locker room. Next week is a must-win, or else their Super Bowl hopes (and predictions) will be ruined.

Schotty plan: As promised, the Jets got back to Ground & Pound, with Shonn Greene rushing for a season-high 83 yards. But to prove a point, they may have cost themselves a chance to attack the Patriots' woeful pass defense. QB Mark Sanchez passed for only 166 yards, rarely looking for his wide receivers on the outside. He found Santonio Holmes for a 21-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. The offense was inconsistent, with seven three-and-out possessions against the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense. Inexcusable.

Turmoil on offense: The Jets issued a pregame statement, denying a New York Daily News story saying that receivers Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason met individually with Ryan in recent weeks to question coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. True or not, there are serious internal issues on offense. Holmes and Mason have complained publicly in recent weeks, and Mason’s comments earned him a seat on the bench, a source said.

Mason was active, but he was replaced by rookie Jeremy Kerley in three-receiver packages. Mason, who ended up playing a handful of snaps, is in Ryan's doghouse, and it wouldn't be a shock if they cut him this week to send a message. They'd have to eat Mason’s 2011 contract, a total of $1.4 million.

Welcome to Revis Island: The big question going into the game was, will Darrelle Revis cover Wes Welker? The answer: Yes. Revis covered him on most of the snaps. Welker had only one catch for 3 yards against Revis, who shut down the Patriots' No. 1 weapon.

On the first play of the third quarter, the Jets got burned by Welker on a 73-yard pass, but that was on safety Eric Smith. He bit on a play fake and let Welker run by him on a seam route. Revis chased him down, but the Patriots -- after winning a critical replay challenge on what appeared to be a fumble by Deion Branch -- went in for the touchdown to make it 17-7.

That's what makes Tom Brady so great; he recognized the Jets' zone coverage and knew immediately he'd have Welker on Smith.

Defense wilts: All things considered, the Jets played good defense, sacking Brady four times and creating some confusion. But they gave Brady too many opportunities -- that goes back to the offensive struggles -- and they eventually succumbed in the third quarter. The Jets wound up allowing their second 100-yard rusher in three games, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 136 yards.

Joe, again: One week after his 107-yard kickoff return, Joe McKnight -- emerging as one of the team's MVPs -- ripped off an 88-yard return to set up the Jets' second touchdown. It’s scary to think that if Antonio Cromartie hadn't hurt his ribs two weeks ago, McKnight might not have received a chance to shine.

What's next: After three straight road games, the Jets return home for a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins (0-4), who are coming off their bye. They usually cause problems for the Jets, who have dropped four of their past five to the Dolphins.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 30, Jets 21

October, 9, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots’ 30-21 win over the New York Jets:

PatsJetsWhat it means: This was a game played at the Jets’ slow-it-down, ground-and-pound pace, and the Patriots proved they can win that way, too. The Tom Brady-led offense maintained balance between the run (35 plays) and pass (33 plays) as the Patriots improved to 4-1 (2-1 in AFC East). The Jets dropped to 2-3.

Patriots, Green-Ellis excel at type of game they couldn’t pull off in playoffs: One of the big questions surrounding the Patriots has been whether the team could grind it out with a hard-charging rushing attack, which was something they didn’t do in last season’s playoff loss to the Jets even though there was opportunity to do so. That’s what they did in this game, led by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was terrific in registering the fourth 100-yard game of his career (first of the season). Green-Ellis finished with 136 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.

Turning points: One key turning point came at both ends of halftime. After Brady was intercepted at the end of the second quarter in the end zone (keeping the score 14-10), the mentally tough Jets had momentum heading into the locker room. But on the first play of the third quarter, Brady found Wes Welker up the seam for 73 yards. The Patriots went on to score a touchdown on the drive. The Jets responded with a touchdown of their own on the next drive, but the Patriots’ defense rose up with back-to-back three-and-outs, and New England went up 24-14 late in the third quarter on a Green-Ellis 3-yard run. That turn of events in the third was big.

Revis vs. Welker: The matchup between Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Welker, billed as a top storyline, was charted throughout the game by Chris Forsberg of (link here). Welker’s 73-yard catch at the start of the third quarter, in which Revis initially lined up over him, looked like a breakdown by the Jets' secondary. It was a big play in the game, as it came after the Jets had seized some momentum with an interception at the end of the first half.

Two big challenges by Belichick: Patriots coach Bill Belichick was successful on two key challenges in the game. The first came at the start of the third quarter when receiver Deion Branch was ruled to have lost a fumble at the Jets’ 7-yard line. The play was overturned. Later in the quarter, a Plaxico Burress catch on third-and-10 -- which gained 22 yards along the sideline -- was challenged. Referee Jerome Boger ruled that Burress had a foot out of bounds. The Patriots scored a field goal on the next possession to go up 27-14.

Patriots defense: The much-maligned unit came up big when it counted. It helped that the Jets’ offense seems to be struggling to find its identity.

Patriots hit 30 again: The Patriots totaled 30 or more points for the 13th straight regular-season game, which is the second-longest streak in NFL history, behind the St. Louis Rams, who did it 14 times between 1999 and 2000.

What’s next: The Patriots host the Dallas Cowboys, who are on their bye this weekend, next Sunday. The Jets return home after three straight road games to host the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Rapid Reaction: Bills 31, Eagles 24

October, 9, 2011
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Here are several thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 31-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

What it means: The Bills solidified their contender status with a big win over the desperate "Dream Team" Eagles (1-4). Buffalo improved to 4-1 and showed mental toughness by bouncing back from a tough loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. The Bills own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the New England Patriots and will remain in first place for at least another week.

What I liked: Buffalo took control of the game early. The Bills took over in the second quarter following a defensive touchdown by Nick Barnett. Buffalo's middle linebacker undercut a crossing route and returned it 31 yards to give the Bills a 21-7 lead. Buffalo barely held on but never trailed after that point. It was the third straight week Buffalo's defense scored a touchdown. The Bills forced five turnovers overall. Barnett's second interception late in the fourth quarter sealed the game.

What I didn't like: Buffalo struggled in the second half for the second straight week. This time, the Bills were bogged down in the fourth quarter. They nearly blew a 31-14 lead to Philadelphia in the final period. The Bills blew a 14-point lead against the Bengals last week.

Injury alert: Buffalo got out of this game relatively healthy. Bills receiver Donald Jones was the only significant injury. Jones injured his ankle in the first half and didn’t return. Backup Naaman Roosevelt filled in well for Jones. Roosevelt caught five receptions for 41 yards.

What's next: The Bills have another game against an NFC East opponent. Buffalo will travel to play the New York Giants in Week 6. Buffalo is .500 on the road this season and still seeking a signature win. The Bills won at Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 and lost at the Bengals in Week 4.