This was the game the Patriots have not been winning, the game that has exposed them, the game that inspired Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain to call the Patriots a “finesse” team. This was the game the New York Jets played last January and the one the Patriots could not. Maybe, in retrospect, it was the game the Patriots simply would not.
There is still a great deal of football to be played in this 2011 NFL season, but let there be no doubt about what took place Sunday on the turf at Gillette Stadium. For the first time in a long time, the Patriots imposed their will on an opponent. New England lined up and smashed heads with the ground-and-pound Jets, emerging with a 30-21 victory that was part passing, part rushing, part defense and part special teams.