For the last week or so we have seen endless streams of copy coming from New York, Jets coach Rex Ryan in particular was his own endless supply of glib quotes. The basic theme was, this Patriots/Jets game was like Ron Bergundy, kind of a big deal. Meanwhile, all week long the Patriots kept their mouths shut. Last night they let their football do the talking.
The Patriots hammered the Jets 45-3 in a game that was not even that close.
The key moments came in the third quarter. The Jets opened the second half with a good drive that looked like it might get them back in the game. Instead, Patriots rookie Brandon Spikes pulled off a huge interception. Brady and the Pats them embarked on a 93 yard drive that effectively killed the game. The stunning 35 yard catch and run by another rookie, Aaron Hernandez was basically the final nail in the Jets proverbial coffin.
The turn around from the week two meeting was epitomized best by Jets mouthy, annoying receiver Braylon Edwards. In the week two Jets win, Edwards was called not once, but twice for ‘taunting’ penalties, acting like a five year old after scoring. Do you think Wes Welker will ever be caught taunting after a touchdown? Last night, on four of the passes directed towards Edwards, two were pathetic drops on easily catchable balls, and two were intercepted by Patriots rookies. Nice night’s effort, Braylon. No fancy, taunting dances last night, eh?
The crucial aspect to this game was the battle for the AFC East crown and potentially home field advantage in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots now have the inside track on playing at home in the playoffs, assuming they keep their focus and finish the job. Meanwhile the Jets are left licking their wounds with road games against Pittsburgh (9-3) and Chicago (9-3) looming later this month.
The game has dramatically changed the NFL MVP voting too. Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning are fast becoming after thoughts in the wake of Tom Brady’s recent showings. Last night he was almost flawless, leading a balanced Patriots attack in a complete beat-down of a divisional rival. Brady has now thrown 228 consecutive passes without an interception. Poor old Peyton Manning, who some were touting as an MVP shoe-in earlier in the year, has thrown almost as many interceptions as passes completed the last three or four weeks. Last night Brady also set a new NFL record for consecutive home wins by a QB, passing up Brett Favre with his 26th straight win at The Razor. The long and the short of it is, on a freezing cold wintry night, against the self anointed ‘best’ defence in the NFL, Brady's final numbers were nothing short of spectacular, 21-of-29 for 326 yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 148.9. MVP type numbers.
On another note, there is a new Superbowl favourite this morning. Up to last night, the Falcons were the bookies chosen ones, at roughly 6/1 depending on the bookmaker. Well, no prizes for guessing who is now top of the pile at 5/1. That’s right, The Brady Bunch. Of course this means nothing really, the road to the Lombardi Trophy is littered with the rotting carcasses of failed favourites, it’s just an interesting side note when you consider the Patriots were as long as 25/1 earlier in the season.
The Jets have really set themselves up for the ridicule and questioning they are undergoing from the calm, cool and collected New York media (The headlines of the NY Post; ‘’FLAME OUT; Brady and Patriots rout Jets!!’’). From the start of the season they set their stall out, loudly articulating that their season would only be a success if they won the Superbowl. Foolish talk for a relatively young team with so many new parts and a second year quarterback who is still learning his trade. Rex Ryan and his coaching staff have put his team under back breaking pressure allowing themselves to be self proclaimed Super Bowl favourites.
Meanwhile, in New England, the mantra continues, one game at a time.
And last night, what a game.