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Friday, November 23, 2012
Report card: Patriots-Jets

By Mike Rodak



A few things stand out here. The first was an uptick in penalties this week. The Patriots were flagged eight times, including twice for encroachment and once for unnecessary roughness, infractions that suggest a lack of disciplined play. Likewise, the Jets picked up two points on another Patriots penalty, a chop block that resulted in safety. Moreover, it's reasonable and appropriate to question the decision to keep quarterback Tom Brady in the game deep into the fourth quarter. Does that send a message? Yes. But is it an unnecessary risk? Without a doubt.


Pass offense

The most important statistic from this unit is that quarterback Tom Brady has gone two straight games without being sacked or throwing an interception. It's extremely tough to beat the Patriots without opposing defenses adding to those columns on the stat sheet. Overall, Brady made do with a depleted group of receivers, playing without Rob Gronkowski for the first time since 2009. There were definitely some poor throws he'd like to have back, but again, no major mistakes.


Rush offense

It wasn't a performance that will be remembered, with no runs over 13 yards, but the Patriots held their lead in the second half with help from a strong ground attack. Stevan Ridley ran 21 times for 97 yards, a 4.6 yard-per-carry average, while Shane Vereen followed up on his strong game last week with 42 yards on 10 carries. Not flashy, but effective.


Pass defense

The Jets probably stayed in their "ground and pound" personnel more than they should have in this game, because their passing game was deceivingly effective. Mark Sanchez posted his second straight 300-plus yard game against New England, and was able to move the ball well enough through the air to cast some doubt in the Patriots' ability to hold their lead in the second half. His first -- and only interception -- proved costly, and ultimately changed the momentum of the game.


Rush defense

The ultra-stiff Patriots run defense seen in the opening weeks of the season has become a distant memory. Although playing with a considerable lead, this unit still gave up 119 yards to the Jets, including 71 yards on 14 carries for Shonn Greene, a 5.1 yard-per-carry average. There isn't one glaring reason why the run defense has dropped off, as on Thursday night it was a bad play here and there by a variety of players that contributed to the Jets' relative success in this area, although they still didn't gash the Patriots by any means.


Special teams

As was the case in their last game, when Devin McCourty fumbled a kickoff but returned another for a touchdown, there were extremes at play here. The most alarming problem was Stephen Gostkowski missing a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter, although at first glance it appeared the entire snap-hold exchange was off. On the positive end, McCourty forced a fumble of Jets kick returner Joe McKnight that was returned by Julian Edelman for a touchdown, another big play for a special teams unit that lacked game-changing efforts earlier this season.