Sunday, January 9, 2011
Quick Take: Jets at Patriots
By Tim Graham
Three things to know about Sunday's New York Jets at New England Patriots divisional-round playoff game:
1. Getting past what happened in Week 13 won't be easy for the Jets. Their humiliating 45-3 loss will be a psychological barrier they must conquer. The Jets need to find a way to make up 43 points when they return to the scene of their wretched display in front of a "Monday Night Football" audience. It probably will be easier for the Jets' offense to close the gap than it will be for their defense to smother Tom Brady's high-performance outfit. The Patriots haven't scored fewer than 31 points since Nov. 7, lighting up the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears along the way. The 1991 Detroit Lions were the last team to lose by 40 points in the regular season and have a rematch in the playoffs. The Washington Redskins defeated them 41-0 the first time and 41-10 in the postseason.
2. New England's run defense will decide the game. Unless Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez drinks a magic efficiency potion, he's not going to be able to beat the opportunistic Patriots defense without a sound run game. The Jets were able to overcome Sanchez's shaky play and beat the Colts on Saturday night because of a forceful ground attack. The Jets rushed for 169 yards and averaged 4.4 yards a carry. LaDainian Tomlinson ran 16 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. New England's run defense has been up and down throughout the season. The Lions averaged 4.8 yards on Thanksgiving, the Jets averaged 4.9 yards in Week 13, and the Buffalo Bills averaged 6.0 yards in Week 16. But the Patriots held seven opponents below 4 yards a carry, including in three of their last four games.
3. The Patriots' offense has multiple ways to win. The Colts were incapable of running Saturday night even though Peyton Manning counted seven defensive backs at times. "They had [cornerback Marquice] Cole at defensive end," Manning said. The Jets then contained Manning by letting him dink and dunk -- aside from one blown play, a 57-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in the second quarter. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis held Reggie Wayne to one catch for 1 yard. But the Patriots can bulldoze the Jets if they have to. Patriots running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead will keep Rex Ryan's defense honest. And if the Jets gear up too much to stop the run, there's that Brady fellow to contend with.