While most of the attention goes to the referee’s decision to award the New York Jets with a penalty on a call never before made in an NFL game and Nick Folk getting a second chance to pull off the stunning victory, making Tom Brady look worse than he has all season and generally in a very long time.
While Geno Smith has had his rough moments this season, never looking worse than in his first game against the Patriots, he certainly looked like a much more mature quarterback in his second appearance against the usual rulers of the AFC East, throwing one touchdown pass and one interception, also running for one in the third quarter as the Jets took the lead for the first time in the game.
The talking point, however, revolved around overtime, and the penalty called on Chris Jones for pushing an opponent into the opponents’ formation, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, saving the Jets. Nick Folk had just missed a 56-yard field goal, but the Jets got a new set of downs, and a 15-yard bonus. Chris Ivory didn’t get too far ahead, but Nick Folk had a much easier time hitting the game winner from 42 yards, putting the Jets above .500 at 4-3 with the 27-24 win.
Bill Belichick, obviously, didn’t like the call. You can’t push in the second level. I didn’t think we did that. Everyone has to look at themselves and do a better job, because what we’re doing now clearly isn’t good enough.
The New York Jets, upon seeing the penalty flag being thrown, weren’t sure who it was against. Some speculated the Patriots simply had too many players on the field. In general, and especially because of their rivals, the feeling was that they finally caught a break.
The biggest achievement was halting Tom Brady, and bouncing back from being down 21-10 at the end of the half. Brady was limited to only 22-of-46, not throwing a single touchdown pass yet throwing one interception. The talked about fact of Rob Gronkowski being on the field (catching 8 passes for 114 yards) didn’t change anything. Brady looked bad, in a season not filled with great performances from him.
The Jets sacked him four times, rattled him three more, and taking away most of his passing options. Brady kept going for Gronkowski, targeting the tight end 17 times. He was only 14-of-29 when trying to find other receivers, as the problem that’s been plaguing the Patriots from day 1 this season kept popping up.
It wasn’t just about the defense and the excellent play of Antonio Allen, breaking up three passes and returning his interception for a touchdown. Chris Ivory wasn’t explosive, but he took advantage of the opportunity given to him, running 34 times for 104 yards. The Jets don’t have talented enough receivers to make Geno Smith look great, so simply keeping it on the ground worked for them against the Patriots, who have lost both Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo for the season.
Is this the year someone overtakes the Patriots? They’re 5-2, still leading the division, and Miami aren’t going to be the team that comes from behind considering their recent troubles. However, with all the injuries and the growing confidence for these surprising New York Jets, closing the book on the division would be rash and foolish.