Game Recap: Roller Coaster Ride

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

Yesterday was an emotional rollercoaster.  Going into the game, I had some legit hope that the Jets could stay in the game against a wounded Patriots team and for much of the game they did just that.  Many thought it would be a blowout by the Patriots, but I thought that in the end the game would be close and if the Jets played their cards right, they’d get a chance to shock the world.

Of course the Jets had more than their fair share of opportunities to beat a Patriots team that looked very beatable, and I think that is what will make Jets fans so irate this week.  If the Niners game was maddening for most Jets fans it was because they quit.  If yesterday’s game was maddening for Jets fans it was because they never quit but couldn’t string together enough good plays to actually beat a very mortal Patriots team.

Maybe this bodes well for the Jets matchup back in the Meadowlands in a few weeks, but the Jets could have been in control of the division today if they don’t make some terribly boneheaded plays yesterday.

McKnight in Shining Armor — For right or wrong since coming into the league, Joe McKnight has had a lot of obstacles to his public perception, but yesterday was the best showing of how much a changed man he is from his college days.  McKnight played much of the game on a bad ankle and played well.  While going off the field, you could see McKnight limping.  McKnight had over 100 yards on returns and had a key 41 yarder when the Jets needed it most.  He chipped in with some carries as well, but only broke one play for 13 yards.  While he still might have lacked some burst normally seen from him, he had his mind up to play and he was able to play well.  Credit has to be given to McKnight of course for his toughness as well as his one of his mentors, Bart Scott.  Scott has taken players like Wilson, Ducasse and McKnight under his wing in his offseason training and their toughness is proving out.

D-FENSE– I really liked what I saw from the defense.  Yes the Jets let up 130 on the ground, but I still think that most of the yards the Pats gain on the ground stems from opposing defenses fear of the pass.  While the Jets didn’t get many sacks, they did pressure Brady at times, forcing bad passes, passes out of bounds and the coverage was decent.  The Jets had a tough time in dominating on defense, but they still kept Brady from scoring more than he should have … forcing punts six times.  I don’t think many thought Brady would struggle as much as he did to get things going.  The Jets use of Trufant was a fantastic wrinkle, but stopping Gronk proved to be the tougher challenge and one the Jets still haven’t mastered.

Kerley’s Big Day — He might not have gotten into the end zone, but Kerley had an otherwise flawless day with 120 yards on seven catches and eleven targets and averaging over 17 yards per catch.  Kerley is quickly becoming one of Sanchez’s key targets and while he definitely took advantage of a bad secondary this week.  Kerley is on pace to flirt with a 1000 yard season if his targets stay steady now that Santonio Holmes is out of the lineup.  Note, Santonio Holmes number of 1,000 yard seasons?  One.

Room for Improvement — The Mark Sanchez – Stephen Hill mindmeld is not yet in full effect.  First Sanchez had that woefully underthrown ball to Hill in the first half that ended up in an interception, then there was the unconscionable drop that Hill had in the closing minutes of the game that would have either been or set up a chance at a touchdown for the Jets and thus a regulation win.  Sanchez has to know that he essentially *can’t* overthrow Stephen Hill, so that interception is extremely troubling as it’s evidence that Sanchez doesn’t have the arm strength to effectively use a target like Hill.  On the second play, the Jets receiver dropped a catch while wide open.  Hill simply has to catch that ball and there’s no excuse for him not to.  What I’ll say about Hill is that those two plays are proof to exactly why the Jets went and got him where they did in the second round.  His physical skills are amazing.  To have gotten as wide open as he did on both plays and the routes he ran were impressive.  But as we saw on the second play, his skills are still raw and those plays are going to happen all the same.

The Sum of All Sanchezes — The way the game ended was maddening.  With Shonn Greene getting what looked very much like a concussion, the Jets were struggling to run the ball at the end of the game and so the onus was put back on Sanchez.  Sanchez had some great throws to keep the chains moving, like in that crossing route to Kerley, but it’s as if Sanchez does just enough to keep fans hoping, then never enough to truly deliver on a routine basis.