- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Picked-up pieces from fourth-quarter and overtime review of the Mew England Patriots' 30-27 overtime loss to the New York Jets:
1. The Patriots didn’t lose the game solely because of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones in overtime. First and foremost, credit should go to the Jets for making the plays when it counts. But specific to the penalty, if umpire Tony Michalek is going to make that call on Jones, it’s hard to imagine why he wouldn’t have flagged the Jets for the same thing on Stephen Gostkowski's game-tying 44-yard field goal with 19 seconds left. Quinton Coples lined up in the same spot as Jones, looped to his right like Jones, and jammed his right arm into the back of a teammate, hurling him into the formation (the teammate flips over snapper Danny Aiken). While Coples’ action was a bit more subtle, the enforcement of the never-called-before rule was too inconsistent from this view, especially at such a critical time in the game.
2. Overall, the Jets didn’t have a blitz-heavy approach in this game. They did pressure at times, but if we had to sum up thoughts on their overall plan, it was more coverage-based and relied on the standard four rushers (not always the same players) to generate enough heat. Several times on the Patriots’ final drive in the fourth quarter, it was just three rushers. It was a nice mix and it generally worked well.
3. On the uninspiring incomplete pass/incomplete pass/incomplete pass sequence that ended the Patriots’ only overtime drive, the Jets rushed four and dropped seven into coverage on each play. The Jets won one-on-matchups on the first two plays that forced throws into tight windows (back-shoulder delivery to Aaron Dobson, short pass to Rob Gronkowski) before Brady overthrew Julian Edelman on an out-breaking route to the right sideline. Just a bad throw, which might have been impacted by defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, whose strong rush on center Ryan Wendell continued a game-long theme of the Jets controlling the play up front. Wendell had a tough game.
4. Chandler Jones was credited with two sacks but his best rush might have come with 9:22 remaining in regulation, on an incomplete pass on third-and-20. Jones lined up over rookie left guard Brian Winters, made an initial move inside with a left-handed strike before clubbing with his right arm to rock Winters and surge past him for a decisive pressure on Geno Smith. That forced Smith to get rid of the ball quickly on an incomplete pass. It was a decisive victory for Jones, who easily could have drawn a holding penalty as well.
5. For the second week in a row, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard showed top-of-the-line ball skills in a critical situation to help get the ball back to the offense. Last week, it was batting the ball away as he was in man coverage down the left sideline against the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Marques Colston. On Sunday, it was a similar play down the right sideline against the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Stephen Hill. In both instances, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Dennard was giving up plenty in the tale of the tape, but his combination of sound technique, instincts, leaping ability and ball skills helped him make both plays. He’s been a solid performer since elevating from a No. 3 to No. 2 role in Week 4.
6. On the drive in which the Patriots ultimately kicked a game-tying field goal, an incomplete pass to Gronkowski with 36 seconds left -- in which Gronkowski nearly made a leaping one-handed grab -- could have been a touchdown if he completed the catch because there was no one behind him. Gronkowski was crunched at the line of scrimmage by defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who sacrificed his rush to “hammer” Gronkowski, which was something the Jets did often in the second half. But Gronkowski, who had aligned close to the line of scrimmage, got started again and snuck behind safety Antonio Allen. The Jets’ physical play on Gronkowski stood out, as they often used a defensive lineman to chip him at the line.
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