NFL Nation: Patriots-Jets 092009


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


The AFC East's most delicious rivalry continues to percolate.

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott doled out some serious praise for cornerback Darrelle Revis and offered some strong words to New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss for not giving credit when it's due.

Scott played with some devastating defenders in his seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, but said Revis is playing on par with any of his other teammates. Revis has given up a combined eight receptions for 59 yards to Houston Texans star Andre Johnson and Moss.
"I've been around tremendous talent, coming from Baltimore," Scott told SNY's "SportsNite" host Brian Custer. "He's on a run that I've only seen by one man before, and that's Chris McAlister, when he went through that run when he stopped Torry Holt, Randy Moss, [Terrell] Owens and all those guys."
Revis also had an interception on a long Tom Brady pass attempt to Moss.

After the game, Moss dismissed the notion Revis was a shutdown cornerback, claiming the third-year pro had safety help. Revis said he was alone on Moss.
"I hear the easy copout by Randy Moss, saying that anybody can guard ... that 'I can play cornerback if I had safety help,'" Scott said. "That was a one-on-one jump ball. I think sometimes you've just got to give the man his credit, understand that [Revis] was the better man that day.

"That doesn’t take from the fact that Randy Moss is a great receiver in this league. But give the kid his due. Next time it'll [be] another chance to go out and do it again so [Moss] can't say the same thing.

"[Revis] shut him down. He intimidated him. Randy was coming across that middle real slow. Tell him to man up next time and come across the middle like a man if he wants to be a complete receiver."
The Patriots' next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, won't be sending Scott any thank-you cards.

Revis limited Johnson to four catches and 35 yards in the season opener. Johnson had 10 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Moss had 12 catches for 141 yards in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


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Falling

1. Miami Dolphins defense: No words were minced in the Dolphins' locker room after the Colts needed only 35 offensive plays and less than 15 minutes time of possession to beat them Monday night in Land Shark Stadium. Head coach Tony Sparano and defensive spokesmen Joey Porter and Jason Taylor each admitted the loss was theirs to bear.

The Dolphins' offense did enough. They turned every possession into a long slog. The Wildcat was purring. Ronnie Brown was shredding. Chad Pennington was his usual efficient self. But the defense leaked all over the place. The Colts averaged 10.3 yards per play, and Peyton Manning barely was unbothered all night.

Galloway
2. Joey Galloway, Patriots receiver: It's so strange to see two veterans such as Galloway and Tom Brady unable to get on the same page after so many weeks of practices, exhibitions and two regular-season games. Galloway looks like he was dropped off on the Patriots' doorstep yesterday and told to play without a peek at the playbook.

Brady has been finding his other receivers. He connected with Randy Moss 12 times in the season opener. Brady found rookie Julian Edelman -- who played quarterback in college -- eight times on Sunday. But Galloway has been a mystery. Through two games, Brady has tried to hook up with him 14 times, but Galloway has five receptions.

Ginn
3. Ted Ginn, Dolphins receiver: I'm hesitant to include Ginn on this list. Statistically, he had a wonderful night. He had 11 catches, tying him for third on Miami's single-game receptions list, for 108 yards.

But Ginn had the chance to win it for the Dolphins. He dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown in the waning moments. Pennington's pass hit Ginn in the hands, in the end zone. The catch wouldn't have been simple, but it's the kind that ninth-overall draft picks should be expected to make.

Rising

Ryan
1. Rex Ryan, Jets head coach: He believed in his team so much he dared to disregard the Patriots weeks before they would meet. His players, energized by their leader's bravado (especially compared to their aloof former coach, Eric Mangini), amped up the pregame rhetoric with some smack of their own.

When the Jets and Patriots finally crossed paths Sunday at the Meadowlands, Ryan and his players backed up their big words with a 16-9 victory. Ryan's dynamic defense was vital to the effort, harassing Brady all afternoon, and hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown through the first two games.

Jackson
2. Fred Jackson, Bills running back: You can't even call Jackson a castoff because nobody really ever wanted him. Bills fans know the story, but the rest of the country still probably has no clue who this guy is. Jackson went undrafted, obviously, out of Division III Coe College. He played in the arena minors, found his way to NFL Europa, the Bills practice squad and the active roster.

Jackson was the NFL's most underrated running back last year and, with Pro Bowl back Marshawn Lynch suspended, has been catalyst for a surprising Bills offense. Jackson ranks fifth in rushing with 220 yards and has added 108 more yards receiving. He rushed for a career-high 163 yards in Sunday's romp over the Buccaneers.

Brown
3. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins running back: Brown might be the NFL's most underappreciated superstar. Rarely is he mentioned in conversations about the best running backs. Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner ... Those are your first-round fantasy football picks. People look at his stats and see a player capitalizing off a gimmick offense.

Fact is, Brown is a stud. He proved it again Monday night, doing just about everything humanly possible to propel the Dolphins to victory. Brown ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a wacky loss. Maybe Sparano should have used Brown on defense, too.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For only the ninth time in 133 career starts, Tom Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

For the first time since 2006, Brady failed to lead the New England Patriots on a touchdown drive.

Sunday was atypically tough for Brady. The New York Jets harassed him all afternoon and beat the Patriots 16-9 at the Meadowlands.

The Jets didn’t sack him, but they had him off kilter with different looks throughout the game.

"Sometimes, you let it go sooner and sometimes you’re able to hold it," Brady said. "There were times when I had plenty of time and just missed. There were times when they came with just their pressure package, and I held onto it a little too long. You have to recognize the blitz and get the ball out quickly. We got it out quickly. We just didn’t complete them."

ESPN Stats & Information charted the game and found that when the Jets rushed five or fewer defenders, Brady completed 17 of 26 attempts for 154 yards, a respectable 81.3 passer rating.

But when the Jets sent six or more he was 6 of 21 for 62 yards and an interception. That's a 19.7 passer rating.

"This defense allows you to give so many looks and unconventional looks," Jets safety Jim Leonhard said. "If you come up with something he knows or has seen before, he has no problem identifying who's blitzing and who's coming.

"It really helped us to play him this early in the year, so we could come with stuff he hadn't seen before."

ESPN Stats & Information also noted Brady struggled on third down. He was virtually automatic against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, completing 9 of 11 passes. But versus the Jets he was 4 of 13 for 40 yards. All four completions attained first downs, though.

"Just the pressure got him off his game a little bit," Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said. "It made him start throwing off his back foot, and you can't do that in this league."
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Jets defenders Shaun Ellis and Kerry Rhodes followed through on their promise to play the Patriots tough.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One good drive, three plays really, is all the New York Jets needed.

Leon Washington opened the second half with 43-yard kickoff return. On the next snap, Mark Sanchez found Jerricho Cotchery for about 15 yards, but a missed tackle turned the play into a 45-yarder. Two plays later, Sanchez feathered a pass to Dustin Keller for a touchdown.

The game's only touchdown was the difference in a 16-9 victory Sunday over the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands.

"We didn't play those three plays very well, and they did," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "That's what the Jets do. We gave them an opening, and they took it."

It was enough because the Jets' frenetic defense has yet to yield a touchdown this season. It's been phenomenal, suffocating the Houston Texans in Week 1 and following up with an equally convincing performance against a perceived Super Bowl contender.

Through eight quarters, two respectable offenses haven't breached the Jets' end zone. The last time the Jets went consecutive games without giving up an offensive touchdown was 1993.

"We're a football team that should be respected," said Rex Ryan, the Jets' head coach and defensive mastermind. "Sometimes, you know, we talk a little bit, but only because we have confidence in our football team. We believe it to be true that we're an outstanding football team."

Ryan and his players refused to speak softly and still carried a big stick. They clobbered the Patriots, just as they proclaimed they would.

Kerry Rhodes' objective "to embarrass" the Patriots didn't materialize. The game was too close, and the 78,312 fans were silent a few times late in the game, when the Patriots would make an occasional play.

The Jets, however, made good on their threats to give Tom Brady fits.

"You might say we talk too much, say that maybe it's time to put up or shut up," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said. "I think we showed up like we said. We're going to show up to all 16 of them, and we'll see how it goes from there.

"We fear nobody. I'm not afraid of anybody. This is football. This ain't life or death here. It's a game. You can't be afraid to be great."

The Jets snapped an eight-game home losing streak to the Patriots. The vaunted Patriots offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a shutout loss to the Miami Dolphins in December 2006.

A look at the box score shows the Jets failed to sack Brady. That doesn't mean Mr. Everything was comfortable in the pocket. The Jets registered seven quarterback hits, with David Harris given credit for three. They chased him around, bashed him as he threw, forced him to hurry.

"We're great as a defense," said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had an interception and -- one week after bottling Andre Johnson -- held Randy Moss to four catches for 24 yards.

"We put a lot of pressure on him and confused him."

Brady completed 23 of 47 passes for 216 yards and an interception. He took the Patriots into the red zone three times, but they came away with field goals. Rattled?

Brady was flagged for delay of game three times, including back-to-back plays in the third quarter to take them out of field-goal range.

Scott was asked if the Jets made Brady uncomfortable.

"I don't know," Scott replied. "Maybe he liked people around his feet, people hitting him in the chest, throwing people in front of him on the ground. Some people might not be uncomfortable in that situation."

Broached a different way, Scott smiled and answered a little less sarcastically.

"Every time I've played Brady, we rattled him," Scott said, referring to his days with the Baltimore Ravens, where Ryan was the defensive coordinator. "That's not nothing new for me. That's a rerun."

Even more remarkable is the Jets have seemed so amazing without playmaking outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who's serving a four-game suspension. They also went without defensive end Shaun Ellis last week because of a one-game suspension. He started Sunday.

While rookie quarterback Sanchez had an impressive game in his NFL debut at Houston last week, the Jets' defense carried him Sunday. Sanchez was 3 of 5 for 15 yards at halftime. Take away that one scoring drive and he was 12 of 20 for 109 yards.

"We really played bad in the first half," Washington said. "They really held it down for us in the first half. I can't thank those guys enough."

If the Jets' defense keeps playing like this, no amount of thanks will be enough.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez emerged from the locker room at halftime a different man.

Actually, he looked like the same New York Jets quarterback as last week, but totally different than he did in the first half Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Sanchez completed 3 of 5 passes for 15 yards in the first half and lost 17 yards on a sack and fumble on the Jets' first play from scrimmage. Yet the rookie bounced pack with a solid performance to beat the Patriots 16-9, the first time the Jets have beaten them at the Meadowlands since 2000.

It wasn't the embarrassment Jets safety Kerry Rhodes had prophesied, but it's a W.

With the help of a 45-yard Jerricho Cotchery catch-and-run, Sanchez drove the Jets for a touchdown on their first post-halftime drive. Sanchez made a perfect 9-yard toss to Dustin Keller, who deftly dotted his toes inside the end line for the game's only touchdown.

Sanchez finished 14 of 22 for 163 yards.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan has shown off his team twice, and both times they looked impressive on both side of the ball. Their defense held Tom Brady and the Patriots to zero touchdowns.

You can't even say Wes Welker's absence played a significant factor because his replacement, rookie Julian Edelman, had eight catches for 98 yards -- both game-highs.

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down another elite receiver, holding Randy Moss to four catches and 24 yards. He let the Texans' Andre Johnson catch only four passes for 35 yards last week.

The Jets' defense simply played well. They harried Brady all day. Although they failed to record a sack, they were all over him.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez is 3-of-5 for 15 yards.

Not on this set of downs. Not on this drive.

For the entire first half.

Of all the halftime numbers, Sanchez's are the most striking. The New England Patriots lead the New York Jets 9-6 at the Meadowlands.

Even if Sanchez hadn't raised expectations with last week's performance over the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium, 15 yards for an entire half is startling.

JaMarcus Russell is having an awful day (3-of-12 for 42 yards), but still has as many completions and more yards. Sanchez also sacked and fumbled (the Jets recovered) for a 17-yard loss on his first snap of the game.

That means Sanchez has accounted for minus-2 yards.

Sanchez became the fourth rookie quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger to win on the road on opening day. He completed 18 of 31 passes for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Texans.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets had to be pleased to see the New England Patriots scratch slot receiver extraordinaire Wes Welker before the game.

Another nice sight has been Patriots strong safety Brandon Meriweather, standing on the sideline with his helmet off.

Meriweather suffered an ankle injury on Leon Washington's 40-yard kickoff return late in the first quarter. Meriweather's status has been announced as questionable.

He's one of the Patriots' best defenders, maybe one of its best two in Sunday afternoon's starting lineup with linebacker Jerod Mayo already out with a knee injury.

Meriweather had a team-high eight tackles, including one for a loss, in Monday night's victory over the Buffalo Bills. He made the initial hit that stood up kick returner Leodis McKelvin on that fateful fumbled inside the final two minutes.

Brandon McGowan, a hard-hitting safety formerly of the Chicago Bears, has replaced Meriweather.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has taken the early lead in his marquee battle with New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss.

Four plays after Moss outmuscled him for a 4-yard first-down reception, Revis made a splendid catch for an interception late in the first quarter.

Tom Brady tried Moss deep down the right sideline. Revis had perfect coverage and twisted to snag the pass over Moss' outstretched hand.

Revis has been showing why he was sent to the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season. He essentially shut down Houston Texans star Andre Johnson in last week's season-opening victory. He limited Johnson to two catches.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets have caught a break before their grudge match with the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands.

Wes Welker, the NFL's leading receiver over the past two seasons, will not play for the Patriots because of a knee injury. Welker hasn't missed a game since his rookie season in 2004, when he played one game for the San Diego Chargers and 14 for the Miami Dolphins.

Welker's absence opens the door for rookie receiver Julian Edelman to step up on the big stage. Edelman, a converted quarterback drafted in the seventh-round out of Kent State, will make his NFL debut. He became a fan favorite in the preseason for looking like a Welker knockoff -- a gritty slot receiver and punt returner.

Also of note on the inactive list is the Jets' designation of Kevin O'Connell as their third quarterback ahead of Erik Ainge. The Patriots waived O'Connell at the end of training camp. The Detroit Lions picked him up and traded him to the Jets, who had said he would be the fourth quarterback.

Here are all of the inactives:

New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC East: Final Word

September, 18, 2009
9/18/09
4:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend's games:

Rich Kane/Icon SMI
Rex Ryan has helped add a little extra spice to the Patriots-Jets rivalry.
Sunday's showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Jets will be more electric than some playoff games. Thank you, Rex Ryan. Let's waive the waiting period and put the Jets head coach in the Sports Talk Hall of Fame right now. It's not only the stream of sound coming from Ryan, but also the trickle down that has turned his players into trash-talking demons. Jets safety Kerry Rhodes wants "to embarrass" the Patriots on Sunday at the Meadowlands. Eric Mangini never would have stood for this. And that's why the media and the Jets players love Ryan all the more.

Tom Brady versus the Jets defense will be entertaining and educational. The Jets gave a fine demonstration of what they want to be on a weekly basis by dictating pretty much every snap in Sunday's season-opening victory over the Houston Texans. The Jets' defense didn't give up a point and throttled a respectable offense without two of their top players: defensive end Shaun Ellis and outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Ellis returns Sunday, giving the Patriots that much more to consider. Brady overcame a shaky start Monday night and looked every bit the quarterback who won two Super Bowl MVPs in a stunning comeback over the Bills, who were without top tackler Paul Posluszny. Can Brady decipher a significantly more dynamic defense on Sunday?

The Miami Dolphins likely will start the season 0-2, but they did the same thing last year. The reigning AFC East champs have another difficult assignment on both sides of the ball Monday night, when the Indianapolis Colts visit Land Shark Stadium. It's early in the season, so maybe we'll look back on the Dolphins' flat-line, opening-day performance against the Atlanta Falcons as an aberration. Maybe Chad Pennington will unlock the Dolphins offense, which looked dull in the preseason, too. Even so, Peyton Manning Inc. isn't the best outfit to have an emphatic bounce-back game against.

Sunday should look like Home Run Derby for the Buffalo Bills' offense. The Patriots stymied Terrell Owens and Lee Evans on Monday night, holding them to five catches for 71 yards. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers demonstrated ineptness in controlling the Dallas Cowboys' passing game in Week 1. The Cowboys averaged 8.9 yards per play -- not just passing plays, but every snap. Tony Romo threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns, feeding big-play targets Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten all afternoon.

Mark Sanchez isn't going to face a prototypical Bill Belichick defense. One of the story lines not dealing with pregame smack involves how the rookie quarterback will fare against defensive mastermind Belichick. But let's face it: whatever defenders the Patriots field on Sunday will barely be indicative of what they will be two months from now. Even before stud linebacker Jerod Mayo went down with a knee injury, the defense was a work in progress. The Patriots are developing their own identity without veterans Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison. Then Mayo, the new centerpiece, gets hurt. Sanchez will be facing a patchwork crew. Belichick certainly will have them coached up, but the talent level and depth has dissipated considerably in the past few weeks.

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