Game notes: Jets-Patriots

Let’s talk AFC playoffs. Five things that stood out from the Jets’ 28-21 upset win over the No.1 seed Patriots in Foxborough.

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1. Consistent pressure: The Jets rolled up five total sacks today. We saw some edge pressure in their zone blitz schemes and examples of winning up front when the secondary forced Tom Brady to hold the ball. The bottom line here: for the first time in months we saw Brady on the ground. It disrupted the flow of the New England game plan and forced the Patriots’ QB to press—which I haven’t seen all season. Get to the quarterback and good things happen from a defensive perspective. And the Jets were on Brady for the majority of this game.

Mark SanchezICONSanchez made the big throws on the playoff stage for the Jets.

2. Sanchez shows up: Made the big throws. That’s what stood out from my perspective. Forget about total numbers, because the 7 (flag) route to Bryalon Edwards once he escaped pressure and the quick, one step fade to Santonio Holmes are playoff level throws. Sanchez can throw the 3-step slants and the inside breaking routes all day, but if you want to go into Foxborough and knock off the 14-2 Patriots, he has to make those two big throws. Give him credit—because he showed up on the biggest stage.

3. Jets’ win the matchups: All week long, we discussed how the Patriots play a brand of “matchup” football. Use the TEs; get WR Wes Welker the free release at the line of scrimmage, Woodhead vs. a linebacker, etc. Today, however, it was the Jets winning these matchups by playing man coverage, using a form of Cover 1 “Robber” (drop defender between hashes) to take away the inside routes schemes and re-routing receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the release. Rex Ryan drew up a plan to beat the Patriots offense system and showed us how it worked. Revis. Cromartie, Ellis, etc. carried it out on the field. That’s just great coaching today from New York.

4. The Patriots’ fake punt: Let’s revisit this, because I viewed it as a “panic move” from New England. Given the situation (down 7-3 in the 2nd quarter), I don’t understand the idea behind giving away possible field position if you can’t convert on the fake. Punt the ball, play defense and get that field position back for Brady and the offense. But don’t try a gadget play as the No.1 seed to win at home in the playoffs. Very questionable move by the Pats.

5. Breaking down Sanchez to Holmes: As a DB, there are two routes you play for in the end zone from a press position: the slant and the fade. Take away the hard inside release for the slant and then react to cut off point on the fade. In this situation, Sanchez puts the ball on the up field shoulder of Holmes—away from the defender. Perfect throw for the fade route and nothing the DB can do playing with that inside leverage. Tough spot to be in.

Check back to the NFP tomorrow morning for some early NFC Championship game thoughts.

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