NFL Nation: 2013 Week 2 NYJ at NWE Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 13, Jets 10

September, 13, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few thoughts on the Jets' 13-10 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium:

What it means: The Jets blew a wonderful opportunity to upset the vulnerable Patriots, whose offense was completely out of whack with a depleted cast around Tom Brady. In the end, a savvy quarterback surrounded by a kiddie corps proved better than a kid quarterback (Geno Smith) surrounded by veterans. The Jets had a chance in the fourth quarter, but they made far too many mistakes in crunch time. Making things worse, Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off with a foot injury late in the game.

Stock Watch: This week, Smith imploded in the fourth quarter. No one said there wouldn't be growing pains for the rookie. He was turnover-free for nearly 50 minutes, but he threw three interceptions in the final 11 minutes. The first interception was a bad decision in the red zone, probably costing his team three points in a three-point game. Having to face the Patriots on a short week is a tall order for any quarterback, let alone a rookie. Smith missed some vertical passes, throwing behind receivers. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did him no favors, calling too many downfield passes. Mornhinweg gave up on the run late in the game.

Careless mistakes: It takes a near-flawless performance to beat a team like the Patriots. The Jets were anything but. They put themselves in a 10-0 hole because of a mental mistake (a blown coverage on Aaron Dobson's 39-yard touchdown catch) and a physical mistake (a fumble by Stephen Hill after a 33-yard reception). Early on, the defense was confused by different personnel packages from the Patriots, and that was the case on Dobson's touchdown. That was just Bill Belichick outcoaching Rex Ryan in those situations. Hill is maddening -- so talented, yet so inconsistent. This is his house of horrors. No Jets fan will forget his killer drop in last season's meeting here.

Implosion: The Jets lost their cool with 38 seconds left, when Willie Colon and D'Brickashaw Ferguson were ejected for throwing punches in a scrum triggered by Nick Mangold, who took a cheap shot at Aqib Talib on an interception return.

The not-so-good-hands people: Smith was victimized by a butter-finger receiving corps -- at least six dropped passes. Clyde Gates had three, including one in the end zone. Hill, Bilal Powell and rookie Ryan Spadola also had drops. The lack of a big-time receiver was blatantly obvious. The Jets' pedestrian wideouts couldn't get much separation against the Patriots' press coverage, forcing Smith to hold the ball and putting extreme pressure on the offensive line. Santonio Holmes made a few nice plays, but he's still not back to his old form.

Dominant D: Save for the busted coverage on Dobson, Ryan's defense was brilliant. It's hard to imagine a defense playing much better against Brady, who completed only 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards. The Jets held the Patriots to 4-of-18 on third-down conversions. If it weren't for Julian Edelman (13 catches for 78 yards), Brady would have been lost. Cornerback Dee Milliner was benched in the second half.

What's next: The Jets return home to face the Buffalo Bills (0-1) in a battle of two rookie quarterbacks, Smith versus EJ Manuel.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 13, Jets 10

September, 12, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – My thoughts on the New England Patriots' 13-10 victory over the New York Jets on Thursday night:

What it means: In one of the uglier football games we’ve seen the Patriots play in recent memory, they get the victory. But are the Patriots still one of the AFC’s elite teams? It’s hard to answer that with an authoritative “yes” after the past two weeks. While they played without receiver Danny Amendola on Thursday night and will benefit from the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski (possibly as soon as Week 3), there are plenty of questions surrounding the offense right now.

Brady’s struggles: Quarterback Tom Brady’s frustration boiled over at times. It’s rare to see a game in which Brady hovers below the 50 percent completion mark, but he just couldn’t get on the same page with anyone outside of receiver Julian Edelman (New England's best offensive player). Brady previously talked about the need for more patience this year. His patience was put to the test in this game.

Stock watch: Falling -- rookie receivers. It was a tough night for Aaron Dobson (second-round pick) and Kenbrell Thompkins (undrafted), as the Patriots’ passing game was stuck in neutral. Dobson caught a 39-yard touchdown pass on his first career play, but otherwise struggled with drops on a night when the conditions got wetter and sloppier as the game progressed. While everyone expected some growing pains for the Patriots’ passing game with young receivers, I’m not sure we expected them at this level.

Defense delivers: The Patriots created four turnovers on defense (two interceptions by Aqib Talib, one pick by Alfonzo Dennard and a fumble return by Devin McCourty created by Talib), as it was a night in which the D had to keep the team in the game because of the anemic offensive performance (some credit goes to the Jets’ defense for owning third down). This is the second week in a row that the Patriots’ defense stood tall late in the game. While the unit deserves credit, it’s also notable that the Jets (1-1), with rookie Geno Smith at quarterback, are one of the NFL’s offensively challenged teams.

What’s next: The Patriots (2-0) host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Sept. 22 (1 p.m. ET). Having played Thursday night, they’ll have extra time to prepare. The Buccaneers host the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.