Sunday’s outing against the Jets was the workmanilke example we have all come to expect over the years from the New England Patriots when the comes to the playoffs. Not a flashy effort full of big plays, trick plays, and exciting runs, but an effort that looks championship like, and one that will I think give fits to the San Diego Chargers next Sunday. 37 points, one on a run, two on passes, and one from the defense along with a couple of field goals is all it took for the Pats vs the Jets. They were good enough, and as usual, their execution was just about perfect.
Even when the Jets hit a long pass to take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, you never got a sense that there was any panic in the Pats game plan. That plan was to move Tom Brady around on pass plays to avoid pressure, and to use the solid combo of Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney to pick up chunks of yards running behind a solid offensive line. The Pats recovered after falling behind, and by the end of the half were up 17-10. It was a lead that New England would never give back to the feisty Jets.
The rushing game is what I think is going to give the Chargers problems next Sunday. Versus the Jets they put up 158 yards on 38 carries, a 4.2 yards per carry average. It was a paitent effort, not full of huge runs (their longest of the day was just 13 yards), but it just seemed like everytime the Pats needed 2-3 yards, no matter who touched the ball – they would be able to get it. Now not to take away from Tom Brady, as I thought his game was solid as well in the win over New York. He was 22-for-34 for 212 yards and two TD’s. He did not force the ball the whole game, and with the new turf in New England, he was able to move up and around the pocket without slipping and sliding like the last time the two teams played in Foxboro.
The Jets were a solid first round opponent for the Pats. Better than the Jags a year ago on a Saturday night when the Pats ran them out of town. Give some props to Chad Pennington and the Jets for going 10-7 in a season in which many thought they would only win 4-5 games. It was also nice to see the two head coaches put aside what appeared to be some pretty big differences, as they hugged post game at midfield. By the way, did you see Bill Belichcik throw aside some camera men to get to Eric Mangini? Classic, and by all means, catch it if you missed it.
So it’s on to San Diego for the Pats, a game that will have some great storylines, including can the Pats run defense stop L.T., and will the Chargers crack under the pressure of being the #1 seed in the conference against the team that has basically set the tone in the AFC for the past five years. Should be a fun one to watch between Bill and Marty and some of the best in the league.