New England Patriots: 2012 Week 12 Coverage
November, 22, 2012
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 49-19 victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium:
What it means. Impressive. Dominating. The Patriots improve to 8-3 and remain in firm control of the AFC East, as the Bills (4-6), Dolphins (4-6) and Jets (4-7) are well behind them. In terms of the overall AFC picture, they are still looking up at the Texans (10-1) and Ravens (8-2), while the Broncos (7-3) are right there.
Offensive explosion in 5 days. After beating the Colts 59-24 on Sunday, and pasting the Jets in this game, it had researchers digging up the last time a team scored as many points in back-to-back weeks. One ESPN Stats & Information researcher was double-checking if the answer was indeed the 1950 Rams, as it initially appeared to be.
Three touchdowns in 52 seconds ... really. The teams played a scoreless first quarter, and at that point, one had to say it was a victory for the Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady was struggling to develop a rhythm and the Jets were hanging tough. But then the Patriots exploded for three touchdowns in 52 seconds -- a Shane Vereen 83-yard touchdown catch-and-run, a Steve Gregory 32-yard fumble return when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into his own lineman and a Julian Edelman 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Researchers were checking if that was some type of record. The Patriots' defense and special teams, once again, came up with the big turnovers as that is a big part of their identity.
Belichick hits 200. Head coach Bill Belichick recorded his 200th career victory, becoming the eighth head coach in the history of the NFL to reach that mark. That it came against the Jets had to be sweet for him.
Life without Gronkowski, Part I. One of the big questions leading into the game was how the Patriots would fill the Rob Gronkowski’s void for the first time, and in this game, they did it with six-year veteran Daniel Fells, who had been a healthy scratch in Sunday’s win over the Colts. The Patriots ran the majority of their plays in the 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB grouping (53 of 66 snaps when Brady was in the game), which they preferred because the Jets matched with their nickel defense, and didn’t miss a beat (Fells had one catch for 24 yards). The return of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was playing for the first time since Oct. 21 and was on for 57 snaps, helped the cause.
Edelman concussion. On the injury front, Edelman left the game in the third quarter with a concussion and did not return. That was the only injury announced by the team. If there are long-term effects, this leaves the Patriots thin at receiver as Edelman was No. 3 on the depth chart and special-teamer Matthew Slater is next. If Deion Branch (hamstring) is healthy, he could be a candidate to return. Another option could be to re-sign Greg Salas, who was waived Thursday, if he isn’t claimed by another team.
Patriots write Jets’ obituary. The Jets entered the game at 4-6 and were playing for their season. The effort they put forth, coupled with the beatdown delivered by the Patriots, raises major questions about them and their future under general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan.
What’s next. The Patriots travel to South Florida to face the Dolphins on Sunday, Dec. 2. The Jets host the Cardinals that day.