What 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 10-7), 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 ESPNBoston.com (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.