To quote William Shakespear, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
This is the best way to describe the New York Jets game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez started off on fire in the first drive of the game, hitting Jeremy Kerley with two pass for 50 yards. The run game did the rest to move the ball and Shonn Greene finished it off with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Jets a 7-0 lead. This was only the second time in twenty-three tries that the Jets were capable of scoring an opening drive touchdown against the Patriots. You would think it was a good sign. Key word being THINK.
Well, Patriots kick returner Devin McCourty ran back the following kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to bring New England right back. The Jets special teams, who are ranked the best in the NFL in kick coverage, had a terrible day. The special teams struggled with blocking too, as they had two big penalties on a punt return by Kerley and a kick return by Joe McKnight that brought both returns backs.
Sanchez made some superb plays, especially in the second half, where he went 16-of-20 for 190 yard and a touchdown. However, he also made three major mistakes, the first being the fumble that led to the safety early in the second quarter. The second being an inexcusable lob that was supposed to go to a wide open Stephen Hill in the end zone, but was instead throw short and intercepted.
“Yeah, it was just a little late,” Sanchez said. “I’ve got to get rid of the ball sooner and give Stephen a chance. I tried a little too hard there and just missed it.”
The final killer mistake was the big sack that he gave up and fumble to end the game. That was the worst play of them all. That play is what ruined everything else Sanchez had done for his team up to that point. The Patriots never gave up and Sanchez should know better than to give up a turnover in that situation.
‘The whole time I’m thinking, ‘Hey, this can’t happen again. We’ve just got to fight all four quarters, hold them to a field goal at the end,”’ Ninkovich said. ”In overtime we said, ‘Hey, it’s overtime. We know we’re going to get a chance, so let’s go out there and finish this game.”’
Even though Sanchez made some clutch throws he also was afraid to pull the trigger to Kerley in the end of 4th quarter when he instead was sacked. The Jets were then forced to kick a game tying field goal and give the Patriots back the ball with a little more than two minutes remaining. Sanchez also missed a wide open Konrad Reuland on a play where he threw it away. He did however redeem himself with a bullet of a throw to Dustin Keller for a 7-yard touchdown later in the drive.
Keller had a big game for the Jets with seven catches for 93 yards and his big time touchdown. Jeremy Kerley had the best game of his career with seven catches for 120 yards.
“Each year he keeps getting better and better, and he’s one of those guys who wants to work,” Sanchez said. “I thought he had a heck of a game.”
After the Jets scored the touchdown to Keller, they kicked the ball off to McCourty with about 2:00 minutes left in regulation, and Antonio Allen stripped the ball and recovered it. This gave the Jets hope as they started with the ball on the Pats 25, but they could not finish.
‘Our emotions were high and everyone was full of energy,” Allen said, ”but they took it right back.”
Hill who was quiet all game, had four catches for 55 yards in the 4th quarter, but he had a crucial drop that may have cost the Jets the game. It was on 3rd down and 9 on the Patriots 25, and Hill, who was wide open, just dropped it. Sanchez was then sacked and the Jets were forced to kick a field goal and not burn any time off the clock.
Tom Brady and the Patriots offense proceeded to march down the field with ease. He hit Danny Woodhead for a 20-yard pass that put Stephen Gostkowski in range for a 43-yard field goal to tie it. Then, in overtime it was the same thing as Brady got Gostkowski into range for yet another 43-yarder to take the lead and on the Jets following drive Sanchez fumbled the ball to end the game.
The Jets beat themselves this game. Not trying to take anything away from the Patriots, but the Jets’ mistakes are the reason they lost. Even with their lack of a run game due to all the injuries to their running backs they still should have won this game.