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Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Be honest homers: How many times did you have to pinch yourself last night?
In a million years, I never would have dreamed that the biggest game of the regular season last night would turn out the way it did.
With likely an AFC East title on the line and a No. 1 spot in the AFC playoffs hanging in the balance, the New England Patriots absolutely destroyed the New York Jets, 45-3 at cold Gillette Stadium on Tedy Bruschi night.
Just like last year where the Jets (9-3) won the first game of the series and then the Patriots (10-2) won the one later in the season that really counted (which help them win the AFC East), Bill Belichick's squad showed up when it mattered.
Nothing changes more than the NFL from week to week so I'm not going to make too big a deal of this result (taking a cue from my beloved Patriots) since after all, it was only Week 13.
That being said, hot damn. This was the first complete game the Pats have played all season and possibly the best performance (in the regular season) that I've ever seen from them given the stakes.
Tom Brady continued to play at an MVP level, coming through with his second straight game of four touchdowns and no interceptions. He was 21 of 29 for 326 yards.
Mark Sanchez looked like the second-year quarterback that he is, throwing three interceptions and going 17 of 33 for 164 yards.
More shocking than that was how easily the Patriots' picked apart the Jets' excellent defense and conversely, how New England's bad defense completely flummoxed Sanchez and his head coach Rex Ryan.
Not to pile on here (but if not now, when?) but Rex looked way over his last night from the start. He challenged a spot on fourth and 1 (lost it), got the first down but eventually had erratic kicker Nick Folk try a 53-yard field goal in swirling winds. How do you think that went? Not so well friends.
Other than Brady, would you guess who was the biggest star for New England? Danny Woodhead, the pint-sized ex-Jet. He had four catches for 104 yards and two carries for 11 yards. Wes Welker (7 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD) and Deion Branch (3 catches, 64 yards, TD) also shredded the Jets' secondary despite Brady never throwing in the direction of Darrelle Revis.
The Patriots received the opening kickoff and moved down the field until stalling outside the Jets' red zone. Shayne Graham's 41-yard kick gave the Pats a 3-0 lead.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (18 carries, 72 yards) increased it to 10-0 with a 1-yard run later in the first quarter.
When Branch had a 25-yard catch and run for a score, making it 17-0 New England late in the first quarter, it was clear the Jets were rattled (and they never recovered from there).
Folk hit a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter but that turned out to be New York's only points in the miserable night for Gang Green.
Brandon Tate hauled in a 4-yard touchdown from Brady in the second quarter and strangely enough, Ryan didn't challenge it even though Tate looked to only get one foot and one arm down. 24-3 Patriots.
After halftime, the Jets moved the ball down field and looked like they might make it competitive but Sanchez threw a bad pick on the goal-line to rookie linebacker (and amateur porn star) Brandon Spikes.
Welker's 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter (where he hauled a Jets defender the last five yards or so) was proof that this might be the same old big talking but no substance Jets.
The blowout was complete in the fourth quarter with Aaron Hernandez (3 catches, 51 yards) adding a 1-yard touchdown catch and Green-Ellis notched another touchdown, this time from five yards out.
Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty had his sixth interception as this one started to get ugly and James Sanders wrapped it up (sound familiar Peyton) with one last pick.
Part of the reason you have to move on fast from this one is that the Patriots have two very good NFC teams up next: at Chicago on Sunday and hosting the Packers a week from Sunday night.
Not to get all footie pajamas on you but that's why you have to feel good with Belichick and Brady on our side. They're still the best in the business and there's no debate.