For those who thought the Patriots would be in for a 2008 fall post-Tom Brady, they were frustrated by the events of the first 1½ quarters of today’s Jets home opener at the Meadowlands.
Matt Cassel looks calm, cool and collected — dare we say Bradyesque — in leading the visitors from Massachusetts to two time-consuming field goal drives and a 6-0 lead. Cassel, making his first start as we all know since high school, completes seven of his first eight passes, four to Wes Welker for 57 yards.
The Jets defense, which seems to be covering more than pressuring early on, stiffens in the red zone both times, so Stephen Gostkowski, who brought his big leg to North Jersey, booms 21- and 37-yard field goals at the end of drives that lasted 5:57 and 3:38.
The Green & White offense has some moments early on but still shoots itself in the foot, first on Jay Feely’s 31-yard FG try, his first as a Jet, that he pushes wide right toward the west end zone goal posts on the game’s first drive, then on Laveranues Coles’ third-down drop of a Favre out pass on their second series.
But Coles atones big-time on third-and-9 by snaring a Favre roll-left-and-throw-right against Patriots CB Deltha O’Neal and, behind TE Chris Baker’s trailblazing in front of him, rolling 54 yards to the Pats 25.
From there Chansi Stuckey plucks a 6-yarder off the turf on third-and-5, then Leon Washington darts this way and that for 11 yards and a first-and-goal at the 3.
And from there, the Jets are unsuccessful at punching the ball in, as three Thomas Jones runs netted 0 yards as Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour rose up to make stops. This time Feely drives one down the middle of the east end zone from 21 yards out to cut the Pats’ lead to 6-3.
The Jets again aren’t perfect, but they are taking their toll. Patriots featured RB Laurence Maroney, who has 17 yards on his first seven carries, leaves with a sore shoulder. And after a shanked Ben Graham punt, the Jets finally do send some heat in the form of a five-man rush with Bryan Thomas off the Jets’ right edge. No one blocks BT, who rocks Cassel as he throws, and Cassel comes up limping.
Favre gets one of those two-minute drives that head coach Eric Mangini is so fond of ending his practices with. The Jets are at their 25 with 1:06 on the clock and no timeouts left. The first play is a 9-yard Seymour sack of Favre. Even though Washington gets loose on second down for 17 yards to the 33, the Jets will left the clock run out and take a 6-3 deficit into the locker room.
Dare I say with the Patriots receiving the second-half kickoff, the last time that happened here at the Meadowlands, Ellis Hobbs and his return team executed an NFL-record 108-yard runback that signaled the Pats’ pullaway in last year’s Jets home opener. The Green & White need to be on their guard to prevent a potentially game-changing play from hitting them at the start of this year’s second half in less than a half-hour.
Here are the eight longest completions of the Mangini era of Jets football, from 2006 to present:
|2006-PO1||Jerricho Cotchery||Chad Pennington||at NE||77t|
|2006- 2||Jerricho Cotchery||Chad Pennington||vs. NE||71t|
|2006-15||Leon Washington||Chad Pennington||at MIA||64|
|2006- 6||Laveranues Coles||Chad Pennington||vs. MIA||58|
|2007- 7||Laveranues Coles||Chad Pennington||at CIN||57t|
|2007-10||Laveranues Coles||Kellen Clemens||vs. PIT||56|
|2008- 1||Jerricho Cotchery||Brett Favre||at MIA||56t|
|2008- 2||Laveranues Coles||Brett Favre||vs. NE||54|
Tags: Brett Favre, Jay Feely, Laveranues Coles, Matt Cassel, Stephen Gostkowski, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »