EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - After all the trash talk and bulletin board chatter the Jets generated, it was silence that prevailed.
That sound you heard yesterday wasn’t the Jets trash-talking the Patriots into submission. It was them applying a gridiron gag-order to the Patriots’ offense.
The Jets backed up their brash talk and delivered an instant message to the Patriots yesterday at Giants Stadium with a suffocating 16-9 win, snapping New England’s eight-game road win streak against the Jets.
New York (2-0) didn’t embarrass the Patriots (1-1) as safety Kerry Rhodes said the Jets intended to do, but they did leave Tom Brady and Co. befuddled and touchdown-less, forcing them to settle for three field goals on three trips inside the red zone in the first half and holding them scoreless in the second half.
It was the first time since Dec. 10, 2006, when the Patriots were shut down and shut out, 21-0, by the Dolphins that a Brady-led offense failed to find the end zone.
“We believed we could do that. It was you guys who doubted us,” said bombastic Jets linebacker Bart Scott.
All the questions entering the season were about the Patriots defense, but after two lackluster performances to start the season it doesn’t seem that 2007 redux is a fait accompli for the offense, even with Brady back.
The Patriots had fewer than 300 yards of total offense (299) and were 5 of 15 on third downs. The Jets didn’t sack Brady, but Rhodes had promised they’d hit him six times. New York did one better, disrupting the timing of the Patriots’ precision passing game, which was without wide receiver Wes Welker (knee).
“They talked smack and they backed it up,” said Patriots running back Fred Taylor.
Brady finished 23 of 47 for 216 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Rex Ryan’s Baltimore-borrowed defense. Brady’s favorite target, Randy Moss, was blanketed by New York Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis, who intercepted Brady, and was reduced to four catches for 24 yards.
“The defense did their job ... that’s to help the offense,” said Moss. “The offense has a job to do, that’s to put points on the board.”
The Patriots led, 9-3, at the half on field goals of 45, 25, and 29 yards by Stephen Gostkowski. They outgained the Jets, 197 yards to 57, and ran twice as many offensive plays (40 to 20) but were denied entrance to the end zone from inside the 20 on three occasions.
In the second half, Brady was held to 8 of 20 for 66 yards and New England punted four times and turned the ball over on downs in five possessions.
“We threw a couple of new wrinkles,” said Rhodes. “I don’t think they knew exactly where we were coming from. In key situations, he likes to read the coverage, he always like to point out the protection of where they are going. I think he was a little confused.”
Patriots tight end and former Jet Chris Baker said the problem for the offense wasn’t recognition. It was execution.
“We were ready,” said Baker. “We know how multiple that defense can be. We just didn’t execute. It seems like the last two weeks we’ve just been a little bit off. We’re a step away from making a real big play, and we just haven’t made them yet. That’s what practice is for, and we’ll make those plays.”
It was actually the Patriots’ defense that created the first big play of the game.
Vince Wilfork and Gary Guyton, who was filling in for the injured Jerod Mayo as defensive signal-caller, held up Leon Washington and stripped him of the ball. Leigh Bodden recovered at the Jets’ 17.
However, the Patriots only ended up with a 45-yard field goal and a very unusual scoring drive consisting of four plays for minus-10 yards after a pair of holding penalties pushed them back to the New York 37.
While Brady couldn’t take off against the Jets, New York rookie quarterback and Brady-wannabe Mark Sanchez (14 of 22 for 163 yards and a touchdown) scored on their first three possessions of the second half - a touchdown and two field goals - to take a 16-9 lead with 9:48 left in the fourth quarter.
The Jets wasted no time seizing control of the game after the half, doing it in just three plays. Sanchez, who was just 3 of 5 for 15 yards in the first half, hit Jerricho Cotchery on a 45-yard catch-and-run to move the ball to the New England 11.
Two plays later, Sanchez, who was 11 of 17 for 148 yards in the second half, hit Patriots-killer Dustin Keller in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard score and New York led, 10-9.
While the Jets defense deserves a lot of credit, the Patriots did little to help their own cause. The one time in the second half they got inside Jets territory, back-to-back delay of game penalties pushed them back and led to a punt. Another Patriots drive in the fourth quarter came to a halt when Taylor was stuffed on third and 1.
Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins had said earlier in the week that New York planned to play yesterday’s game like it was the Super Bowl. When the game was over they celebrated like it was the Super Bowl, with players waving towels on the bench in the final minute and Sanchez tucking the game ball under his arm.
That image might be more motivation for the Patriots than anything that came out of their loquacious locker room.
When asked if Rhodes hadn’t taken any of his tough talk back, Baker said he didn’t have to and left a message of his own - see you again (Nov. 22 in Foxborough).
“He can say whatever he wants,” said Baker. “It’s freedom of speech, so whatever he felt or whatever he wanted to do he can say it. That’s fine, but it’s a good thing we play twice a year.”