The Patriots had plenty of opportunities to snatch victory from the Jets on Sunday afternoon; they simply failed to properly seize any of them. Tom Brady looked less than sharp at the Meadow Lands as he put together a forgettable 22 for 46 passing performance with 228 yards, one interception, and zero touchdowns. Brady looked mediocre at best against Rex Ryan’s tough nose Jets defense. The future Hall-of-Famer left more than one missed opportunity out on there on Sunday. Brady missed several open receivers throughout the game, especially on key sitiuations. His one interception came on a ball grossly underthrown to Rob Gronkowski, that looked completely out of character for Brady.
Something was up, as Brady was visibly not on his game. It wasn’t just tight windows that Brady missed on Sunday, rather he missed wide-open receivers on balls that resembled nothing of a Tom Brady thrown ball. The guy…just looked flat. One would think that the return of a game-changing weapon like Gronk to the lineup would light a fire under Brady, thus elevating his game. The Patriots offensive captain did no such thing. Truth be told, Brady laid an egg out there on Sunday. It wasn’t the receiver’s fault this time, or the defense, or the special teams…it was Brady. He had the chances to win the game, on more than one occasion, and he just didn’t do it.
On offense, only Rob Gronkowski stood out. In his return, Gronk hauled in eight grabs for 114 yards on 17 targets. Julian Edelman was behind Gronk with five catches for 44 yards on seven targets. It was fairly obvious that Gronkowski was not quite himself yet. Although he posted impressive numbers, he didn’t appear willing to go exactly full tilt just yet. He seemed to be a bit reserved, especially at the point of contact. He wore noticeably large pads over both his forearm and elbow. No doubt a precautionary step, it certainly lends itself to the uneasiness Gronkowski is experiencing upon returning from such a hiatus away from football. Gronk will certainly get better as the weeks go on, but on Sunday, it was clear he has a long way to go.
On the defensive side of the ball, the boys held things together in the midst of the walking wounded that has become their locker room. New England played on Sunday without a substantial amount of their starters on defense. Aqib Talib sat out Sunday, thrusting Kyle Arrington in the starting lineup at corner aside Alfonzo Dennard. Arrington struggled out of the slot and in the starting lineup. His game is much better suited covering slot receivers, than trying to hang with the big boys on the outside. Arrington was taken advantage of in man-to-man coverage by Geno Smith on a number of occasions.
Chandler Jones is a beast. It’s official. Jones is taking his game to another level right in front of our eyes. He appears to be truly figuring out how to best take advantage of his freakish athleticism and long frame in the NFL. Jones finished Sunday with team-high 11 tackles along with two sacks. Don’t’a Hightower and Brandon Spikes also registered 11 tackles as they both did a nice job helping to control the line of scrimmage.
It was obvious however; as the fourth quarter rolled on that the defense was losing their wind. The Patriots offense simply could not sustain a drive, resulting in the New England defense playing significantly more snaps than Bill Belichick and company would have preferred.
The Patriots offense started off the second half with an interception and three consecutive three and out drives. Without the ability to sustain a drive, the Patriots defenders became visibly wore down as the game pressed on. Late in the game, the Jets were able to just lean on the Patriots defense with a heavy dose of the run. The run game late took all that was left of the Patriots defense, and kept the game out of reach for Tom Brady. He got his chances, but Brady just couldn’t deliver game winning drives two weeks in a row. In Week 8, the Patriots host the Miami Dolphins.