Quick-hit thoughts after 3rd quarter

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
11:09
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the third quarter of the Patriots’ road game against the Jets, with New England leading 23-9:

1. Jets mistakes have been the story of the quarter. The Patriots have turned them into 10 points, helping them build a 13-9 halftime lead to 23-9.

2. The muffed punt by Joe McKnight, which was recovered by linebacker Niko Koutouvides, was one of the miscues. The Patriots thought they had a Rob Gronkowski 14-yard touchdown catch in which quarterback Tom Brady did a remarkable job keeping the play alive by avoiding the rush and waiting for Gronkowski to come free, but after a review, Gronkowski was ruled to have stepped out of bounds before the catch. The Patriots ultimately settled for a field goal.

3. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich’s interception later in the quarter was the second Jets miscue, and one could make the case it was forced by the Patriots. The ball was tipped before Ninkovich came up with it.

4. Through three quarters, the Patriots have played smarter, more complementary football than the Jets. But this is still either team’s game, as the Jets are knocking on the door for a possible touchdown.

5. Rob Gronkowski. Best tight end in the NFL?

6. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is covering Gronkowski at times. That’s respect.

7. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks like the weak link on the opposite sideline.

8. A penalty on the Patriots’ kickoff return team to open the third quarter set the offense up deep in its own territory. That contributed to the half not starting the way the Patriots hoped, with a three-and-out.

9. When James Ihedigbo left the game with injury late in the quarter, the Patriots turned to former practice squad player Ross Ventrone as his replacement, over Sergio Brown. It's been a hard fall for Brown.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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