Sunday, November 22, 2009
Patriots fired up in first half
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Analysis from the first half with the Patriots leading the Jets 24-7:
This has been as energized and hard hitting of a first half as the Patriots have played this season. It has helped that Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been jittery and sporadic (2 INTs, one returned 53 yards by Leigh Bodden for a TD). Sanchez is 2 of 9 for 15 yards.
The Jets aren’t built to play from so far behind. They entered the game leading the NFL in rushing yards per game, but they’ll need to throw it to get back into this one. Sanchez doesn’t look capable of making it happen.
The individual matchup that was a top storyline entering the game -- Randy Moss vs. Darrelle Revis -- has been fun to watch. Revis is doing his part to help limit Moss (4 catches, 21 yards, TD) with physical play at the line and the ability to stay with him down the field. The Patriots have tried to go to Moss when it’s been a one-on-one matchup down the field, but Revis has answered the challenge more often than not.
At one juncture, the Patriots ran a bunch formation with Moss and Wes Welker as a way to help Moss shake free of Revis. On another play, three defenders broke toward Moss, opening a lane for Welker for a big gain. Welker (8 catches, 139 yards) has been terrific.
The Patriots are playing a base 3-4 defense, then going to a dime package (6 defensive backs) on obvious passing situations. The dime has swarmed, as that is the package in which Bodden has his two interceptions and the Patriots also have a sack.
The Patriots have brought a physical edge to this game, whether it has been left tackle Mark LeVoir crunching defensive back Donald Strickland on a receiver screen, or Laurence Maroney lowering his shoulder and steamrolling over a defender. Each time, the Patriots sideline has erupted as the hard hitting has helped the team build momentum.
On special teams, the Patriots had a punt blocked and recovered for a touchdown late in the second quarter. It looked like a case where the team might have missed special teams captain Sam Aiken as the personal protector, as Pat Chung blocked inside as pressure came to his left.