Nov 14, 2011, 6:13 PM EDT
THE LONELIEST KICKER
Before every Sunday Night Football game I talk with each team’s kicker on the field to get an idea of their range and how the weather might impact the kicking game.
Before New York took on the Patriots, Jets kicker Nick Folk told me his range was 53-yards in both directions. The conditions were ideal. Really no wind to speak of.
In fact, Folk told me in general, 1 PM games are pretty windy; 4 pm games are a bit better; and night games are the least windy.
So when the 5-year veteran out of Arizona missed a 24-yard attempt on New York’s opening drive Sunday night against the Patriots there was a reason to wonder…
Was this a sign of things to come?
During that opening possession Jets QB Mark Sanchez made some terrific throws, including a 16-yard completion to Santonio Holmes on his first attempt. There was also a 27-yard reception by Holmes that put the Jets in great position.
But this otherwise perfect opening drive ended with a missed “chip shot” on a windless night at MetLife Stadium. Jets fans might have seen that as a bad omen.
This is not to say the opening drive determined the outcome of the game, but you could say it was the first in a series of missed opportunities by the Jets.
Conversations with both C Nick Mangold and LT D’Brickeshaw Ferguson before Sunday night’s game indicated the Jets offensive line was healthy and ready.
Mangold talked about how O-Line coach Bill Callahan was working with his charges on the smallest details.
Who would have predicted Sanchez would get sacked five times — four-and-a-half by DE Andre Carter alone?
A good number of those sacks game in garbage time after the Pats had taken a 30-9 lead.
Still, the Patriots defensive front won the battle at the line of scrimmage and protected a very thin and suspect New England secondary.
AND YOU ARE…?
Unless you are a Patriots fan you’ve probably not heard of Sterling Moore. Or Jeff Tarpinian. Or Rob Ninkovich.
Gone are the days when the Pats D was headlined by Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel.
On Sunday night the patchwork New England defense rose to the occasion and made some game-changing plays against the Jets.
LB Rob Ninkovich had two interceptions, one a pick-six.
Rookie CB Sterling Moore filled in for the injured Patrick Chung at safety and helped hold the Jets to 268-yards passing.
Getting a performance like that out of a banged up, young defense is Bill Belichick’s specialty.
BUT THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GREAT OFFENSE
Sunday night’s second half was a master class in quarterback play.
Early in the fourth quarter, Brady engineered a 13-play 84-yard drive that lasted 6:51 and resulted in an 8-yard TD pass to Deion Branch.
That drive kept the Pats defense on the bench. It was as though Brady were saying, “I got this, guys. Go get some rest and I’ll give us a lead.”
The defense returned the favor by holding the Jets to seven points in the second half.
STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET TOLD
RB Kevin Faulk is the longest-tenured member of the Patriots. The 13-year vet has been on the team one season longer than Tom Brady.
Faulk told me 2010 was supposed to be his last in the NFL. He told his family as much before last season kicked off.
But in game 2 at MetLife Stadium, Faulk tore his ACL, ending his 12th season.
His son said to him, “Dad, I know you’re not retiring after THAT.”
Faulk didn’t. He went through 13 months of rehab, which he told me was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.
A few weeks ago, Rex Ryan called Sanchez, Burress and Holmes into a meeting. “Are we in trouble,” wondered Sanchez?
Rex wanted his young QB to get to know his two primary targets a little better. “I just wanted to bring us together,” said the coach. “I think there’s a special connection with quarterbacks and wide receivers.”
That connection got short-circuited this season with the lack of mini-camps, OTA’s and the rest.
So Ryan initiated the Thursday afternoon meetings to facilitate closer relationships between the three teammates.
Sometimes the meetings are about football, sometimes not. There is usually laughter… and often ice cream.
“Now it’s one of the things we do every week,” said Ryan.
And Sanchez said every time he walks out of one of those Thursday meetings he is excited about whatever is going to happen next.
Sunday Night Football TwitterView all »
EJ Manuel says Buffalo's offense is easier than Florida State's http://t.co/m1PZgr29JN
Chargers shielding Te'o from media http://t.co/zwL1Lmz1Fu
Eagles moving on from Miguel Maysonet, which underscores the importance of making a quick impression in OTAs http://t.co/GZlZztIEBS
It's Broncos' Mt. Rushmore nomination time http://t.co/IPM6Ml1dQD
Report: Bills agree to deal with rookie WR Robert Woods http://t.co/pzMOcGyXzn
Peyton Manning's contract didn't change, but the league's treatment of it did, creating $2.5M in '13, '14 cap space http://t.co/j16TlSLR3R
Report: Texans LB Brooks Reed had groin surgery, is "100 percent" for OTAs http://t.co/ymrNoQddvx
Geno Smith says he's learning how to deal with criticism http://t.co/qqdJszLkHg
Broncos still sticking with Rahim Moore http://t.co/UPs6d4jozN
Let's get down to business: Twenty-nine NFL teams holding OTAs this week http://t.co/o5zg353EUh
Charles Woodson interested in Lions, if they're interested in paying him what he wants http://t.co/8AOgJ8OV3D
Patriots hold football clinic in Newtown http://t.co/hiIvATX4vf
PFT's All-Unemployed Team Update: With Freeney gone, John Abraham the best pass rusher left http://t.co/1haFs64s3i
Collin Klein isn't giving up on his NFL dream, yet http://t.co/51mO1EHt3N
Lions 2011 draft class a mess in more ways than one http://t.co/ZOlQaf7qV0
New routine will force Eagles players to be more responsible http://t.co/uENHH7s5yI
Husain Abdullah wanted to return to football in 2012 http://t.co/ehXGGYdZxf
Inside the Super Bowl L, LI voting process http://t.co/gJNAuYBtjV
Greg Schiano says he's "not against" starting Mike Glennon (not that he's sending messages or anything) http://t.co/7ysQbU1aCQ
Larry Fitzgerald: 2012 was most frustrating season I've ever had http://t.co/tLi7abegPj
Jets' Mt. Rushmore may not have many recent faces, but nominate whoever you want http://t.co/ajfA4VxSIW
Report: Jets "really wanted" Brian Hoyer http://t.co/Ao9zESCFwt
Super Bowls L and LI to be awarded Tuesday; one goes to SF or Miami, the other goes to the loser or Houston http://t.co/D0L5vwgZ5a
Nick Saban: Rolando McClain was fair to the Ravens http://t.co/zyOOZwq4jZ
Idzik's 0-for-2 start to free agency has folks taking shots at Jets http://t.co/LCsYXn4G3K
Trent Richardson won't be prosecuted for assault that resulted in lawsuit http://t.co/TtPRdYJn95
Mike Gillislee signs with Dolphins http://t.co/TtGBaqYapK
For Giants rookie Cooper Taylor, heart issue a thing of the past http://t.co/QXBLXO82EE
Sunday morning one-liners http://t.co/e2rVRBsnzm
Six Seahawks have tested positive for PEDs since 2011 http://t.co/7aC15wrRzF
Stephen Tulloch gets motivation from reaction to his spot on top 100 list http://t.co/ZCOZag9dKY
Panthers' offense not necessarily Mike Shula's offense http://t.co/QSn0ZjvtaZ
Roof of new Vikings stadium is "self-cleaning," in the same way leaving a car in the rain makes it "self-washing" http://t.co/2KBOAh47jf
Tebow returns to Jacksonville, but not that way http://t.co/qtMwHrZJzI
Pre-draft Gronkowski injury concerns could be coming to fruition http://t.co/TIK4oaNR2s
League regards possibility of Haslam losing ownership of Browns as "unlikely," for now http://t.co/z99p9ZVuco
Nominate your favorite Patriots for their Mt. Rushmore http://t.co/2LEn8haG4F
Kyle Love passes physical in Jacksonville, with requirement that he receive treatment for diabetes http://t.co/kPef0I3CVc
Chargers announce Freeney deal http://t.co/0IpCbMtCgJ
Willie Colon thinks Jets will dump Mike Goodson http://t.co/fzlyCPJVf7
The signs are coming down at "Cleveland Browns Stadium" http://t.co/IemUrhVmiR
Talks between Cruz, Giants "moving slowly" http://t.co/UHdc7NdQCV
Chargers announce Freeney deal http://t.co/NoTDn3Wg55
Brandon Weeden "surprised" by Browns' decision to sign Brian Hoyer http://t.co/aRXrBkuJOJ
Good luck narrowing the Miami Mt. Rushmore to four http://t.co/NDHn8tIlXN
Eagles have asked Jason Avant to get some work at a new position http://t.co/oI5MJR5fbp
Titans mum on whether they knew about Fokou's DUI charge http://t.co/AHtxzi2mPP
Freeney's base deal surpasses Umenyiora's base deal by $250,000, with more in year one and bigger incentives package http://t.co/1zCQMhYQWX
Two years, $8.75 million for Dwight Freeney, with max value of $13.35 million http://t.co/1zCQMhYQWX
Sunday Night Football Headlines
- Manuel says Buffalo’s offense is easier than Florida State’s
- Chargers shielding Te’o from media
- Milliner makes new agent choice
- Gronkowski canceled Vegas trip
- Eagles move on from Maysonet
- Chris Cook doesn’t think Vikings will suffer without Antoine Winfield
- It’s Broncos’ Mt. Rushmore nomination time
- Report: Bills, WR Robert Woods reach deal
- Manning’s contract doesn’t change, league’s treatment of it does
- Brooks Reed healthy for OTAs after groin surgery
- Pro Bowl
- Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
- San Fransisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
- San Fransisco 49ers at New England Patriots
- Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
- New England Patriots at New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
- New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
- San Diego Chargers as New Orleans Saints
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
- Detroit Lions at San Fransisco 49ers
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
- Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
- Super Bowl