The New York Jets fought their hearts out but costly mistakes, inept running attack, and lack of pass-rush played key roles in their loss to New England, 37-16. The Jets kept the game within reach up until last six minutes of the game when the Patriots scored two touchdowns in a one minute span.
New England took the lead on the opening possession as they marched 65 yards in 10 plays to get seven points ahead of the Gang Green. The Jets responded with a quick three and out, and then the teams exchanged empty possessions. The Jets, however, did manage to get inside the Patriots’ territory on their second drive, just not close enough for a field goal try. The Pats took over on their own 14-yard line and fumbled the ball on the very first play from scrimmage. New York was given a golden opportunity to even the score but failed to gain a single first down. PK Mike Nugent scored a 28-yard field goal, cutting New England’s lead to 7-3.
As the second quarter began, the Gang Green found themselves with the ball again and on the second play of the quarter QB Chad Pennington connected with WR Jerricho Cotchery on a 77-yard touchdown pass. The Jets took a 10-7 lead, their last lead in this game. The Patriots answered on the ensuing drive, as they once again drove down the field and got inside the Jets’ 10. Only this time stingy Jets’ defense was able to hold on, limiting the Pats to just a field goal, 10-10. Four minutes later, following another empty Jets’ possession, New England got the ball back and sustained a 7-minute, 15-play drive that culminated with a touchdown, just before the first half expired, 17-10.
The Gang Green came out swinging in the second half and Chad Pennington quickly moved the ball inside New England’s territory and inside the 15-yard line. The Jets had yet another golden opportunity to equal the score but failed again and settled for a field goal, 17-13. The Pats answered with a field goal of their own, 20-13, and then the Jets began what happened to be the deciding drive of the game. The Gang Green started the drive from their own 13-yard line and RB Leon Washington, who was limited to only 12 yards on 6 carries in the first half, got them inside the Pats’ territory with his 11 and 19-yard runs. That’s when Chad Pennington threw a backward pass that was ruled a fumble and returned by New England to the Jets’ 15-yard line. The defense held off but even with a field goal this became a 2-score game, 23-13.
The Jets shortened the Pats’ lead to 23-16 early in the fourth quarter and then New England sustained yet another long drive – 13 plays in almost 10 minutes. Tom Brady connected with Kevin Faulk, as the score became 30-16. The game was pretty much over with just a bit over five minutes left on the game clock. The Jets did try to do move down the field but Pennington’s pass was picked off and returned for a touchdown, setting the final score 37-16.
QB Chad Pennington finished the game 23 of 40 for 300 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. He played pretty well but without any support from the running game it was close to impossible to beat the Pats. RB Leon Washington gained 50 yards on 11 carries (30 of those yards on just two runs in the second half). TE Chris Baker caught 5 balls for 68 yards. WR Laveranues Coles also made 5 catches for 45 yards. WR Jerricho Cotchery made 4 grabs for 100 yards, 1 TD.
The defense once again was unable to stop the run and pressure the quarterback without blitzing. They allowed 158 yards on the ground and sacked Tom Brady only once. SS Erik Coleman lead the team with 10 tackles (4 solo). DT Dewayne Robertson made 8 tackles (4 solo) and forced a fumble. LB Eric Barton and DE/LB Bryan Thomas combined on the only Jets’ sack of the game. CB Hank Poteat recovered a fumble.
The season is over and the Jets will have a long offseason ahead of them. Hopefully, $28M of salary cap space will be enough to improve the pass-rush, the right side of the offensive line, get better cornerbacks and a solid every down runningback.
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J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS!