By Jack Sitt
Pats offense vs. Jets defense-
The strategy for both teams defensively was to not give up the big play. The Jets often played two deep safeties and they only brought blitzes in third down situations. The Pats reacted by taking the short yardage pass plays the entire game.
In the passing game, Tom Brady utilized his tight ends. They accounted for more than half of Brady’s passing yards. This was able to happen because they were often matched up with linebackers and safeties that were not equipped to cover them (no offense to David Harris or Laron Landry). The athleticism of the tight ends were just too much for the Jets to handle.
Here was an example of Brady utilizing his tight end: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game highlights/0ap1000000083095/Gronkowski-17-yard-touchdown-catch.
The fact that Antonio Cromartie aligns in the slot to cover Brandon Lloyd indicates that this is a man defense (you can check out the preview of this game for more detail on this alignment http://www.nflgridirongab.com/2012/10/20/a-look-at-the-jets-game-plan-vs-the-patriots-heading-into-sunday).
The alignment of the safeties indicates that this is specifically a cover one defense, and as a result Brady knows he will have Rob Gronkowski in one on one coverage with Landry. Brady recognizes this mismatch and he hits Gronkowski on a corner route for a touchdowns. Brady finished with 259 yards passing and two touchdowns, both of which went to Gronkowski.
In the running game, the Jets front 7 did a good job considering that they were playing their safeties back. The Pats 131 yards rushing, however, were just enough to keep the defense honest. They used the 3-headed attack of Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead to run the ball on the Jets.
Jets offense vs. Pats Defense:
The Pats played a Chicago Bears type of defense in this game, mixing in cover 2 man and cover 2 zone. Against the zone, Dustin Keller was able to get open across the middle, as he was able to record 93 yards on 7 receptions. Against man, Jeremy Kerley was able to get beat the defensive backs while staying in front of the safeties. He finished with 7 receptions for 120 yards.
Mark Sanchez was efficient passing the ball down the field to his receivers. When he saw that there was nothing there, he knew to check the ball down to his backs. Shone Greene finished with a rare 6 receptions. We would probably be talking about Sanchez’s game as a spectacular performance if it were not for a few key mistakes made by the offense.
The receivers dropped many passes, including one by Stephen Hill on a crucial third down at the end of regulation. In addition, Sanchez committed two key turnovers. The first one came on a long pass intended for Stephen Hill that was intercepted. The Jets had called a perfect cover 2 zone beater. Stephen hill ran a corner and go and Keller ran a post route down the middle.
The plan was that Keller would attract the safety attention down the middle while Hill would be able to get behind the defensive back for a big gain. The problem was that the pass from Sanchez did not get in fast enough. He gave the defensive back to much time to break out of his assigned zone in the flats to make a break on the football. As a result of the cheated assignment, Sanchez had Shone Greene wide open in the flats, but he just did not see it.
Sanchez’s second mistake came on their last possession of the game, in overtime. They had a chance to drive the field to tie or win the game, but a costly fumble by Sanchez ended the game for the Jets.
The lack of production in the running game did not help the cause of Sanchez either. After pounding the Colts the previous week, the Jets only managed 3.4 yards per carry in this game. They had some success early on when the Pats basically started off with a 5-2 defense (which is what the Jets had played against the previous week), but the Pats made adjustments as the game went along.
They switched to more 4-3 and 3-4 looks and this proved to be effective for them. They also made sure to set the edge with their defensive ends so that they could force the backs to run inside. I thought the Jets could have been more efficient in the rushing game if they did not make their run calls so obvious. Many of their rushing plays came out of 1-receiver sets, so the Pats were prepared defensively.
In the end, the Pats were decent in the passing and rushing game, and they did enough to not loose the game. They got the win, however, because the Jets beat themselves. This was a game the Jets should have won because they had multiple chances to capitalize. The costly mistakes that they made, however, were too much for them to overcome.