Tuesday, December 07, 2010

New England Patriots 45, New York Jets 3

To be honest, I'm having a little trouble digesting this one...
  • If the Patriots defense had been better this year, that would have been comfortable at the end of the first quarter. As it was, it wasn't until the Patriots scored on the first play of the fourth that it really felt over.
  • There were a lot of indicators that the Patriots would win last night, but many of them are ambiguous, at best.
    • Comments from Tom Brady that he didn't understand the Jets defense before but was confident that he did now.
    • The swagger of the Jets, combined with how quickly and severely their attitude reportedly changed when Leonhard was hurt.
    • The reports of comments from New England players, none made publicly, that they knew that they were going to win.
    • The lack of a single Jet victory over a good team, save for the week 2 win against New England, in a game where Tom Brady kept trying to force the ball to Randy Moss.
    • New England's offensive efficiency since adjusting to the Moss and Branch trades.
    I thought that the Patriots would win, but certainly didn't expect that final score.
  • I didn't think of it as being that big a blowout (42 points!) until hearing commentary late in the game and post-game. There are two reasons for this:
    1. 2007 changed the mental conditioning for many of us as to what, exactly, a football game looks like. I know that teams don't march up and down the field, and win by four+ touchdowns on a regular basis. But while I "know" it, I've seen it happen - I've seen this show before, and it doesn't come as a surprise. And it doesn't feel "historic" or, in some ways, even noteworthy. The Patriots have had long stretches of offensive efficiency so productive that I'm somewhat jaded by it, still.
    2. There have been so many games, in the past couple of years, that looked just like that one, half-way through the third quarter. This team, since Brady's return from the knee injury, has on several occasions gone up on teams, way up on teams, only to see the defense give it back late. Think Indianapolis last year. Or Indianapolis this year. Or Pittsburgh this year. If you don't trust your defense, then there's no lead that you're really comfortable with. If Sanchez throws touchdowns instead of picks on those two red zone drives in the second half, it's a very different game.
  • Tom Brady's last four games: 91 for 124, 1203 yards, 13 TD, 0 INT, 138.6 rating. He may actually be playing better than he did in 2007, and is the clear favorite right now to win his 2nd NFL MVP award. And I hope that Patriots fans understand and appreciate what they're watching, because what we're watching right now is special - it won't last forever, and we're not likely to see it again...

  • One of the reasons that Belichick is a great coach, according to his former players, is that he is able to tell them what's going to happen in a game. "If you do x, y will happen." There's a tremendous amount of trust, and that makes people very coachable. They believe what he tells them. Well, the defensive performance last night was very good, and that young, fast, athletic defense is starting to learn and to trust. A lot of what happened is a result of Sanchez not being very good, but some of it is the defense really starting to come to grips with what they've been taught. There are going to be more bumps along the way, but they're getting better. I expected them to be better in December than in September - I think we're seeing that.

  • There's been a lot of talk, chatter, speculation that the Patriots defense was just not a "championship-caliber" defense, that they couldn't win a Championship this year. With four games to go, which NFL team is better positioned than New England? Who looks more impressive? Who's got a better record, against better competition? They've beaten every other top AFC team already, with the exception of the Chiefs. Is Kansas City a better team? I don't think so. Are the Falcons? We may well find out. I don't see any AFC team more likely to go to the Super Bowl than the Patriots.

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