EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New England Patriots won the
Super Bowl the hard way last season. This year, they're making
things look easy.
Question on the Patriots: Just how good are they?
They are the NFL's best-coached team. They give opponents a wide variety of looks, offensively and defensively, and QB Tom Brady has looked terrific. They're the real deal.
Question on the Jets: Where's the high-scoring Jets' offense everyone was talking about in the preseason?
There was lots of talk about it, but there's been little action. Curtis Martin seems to be the only real threat, and he's getting older. The receivers are productive, but there's no big-play No. 1 receiver. Until they find someone, Vinny Testaverde will have a tough time.
Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
The Patriots smothered the New York Jets 44-7 on Sunday, as
Tebucky Jones and Victor Green scored defensive touchdowns and Tom Brady threw two TD passes for an offense that totally controlled
the ball until it didn't matter any more.
Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals of 28, 31 and 40 yards as the
Patriots won their eighth consecutive regular-season game, and 11th
straight overall counting two playoff games last season and the
"They're a great team,'' Jets cornerback Donnie Abraham said.
"They really are and I think people have to start giving them
credit. They don't look like they're feeling the pressure of being
the defending Super Bowl champions. To me, it looks like they're
having fun defending their title.''
New England linebacker Mike Vrabel said the team's talent is
clear to see.
"The biggest thing for us, and it really showed today, is our
depth,'' Vrabel said. "We have a lot of good players, a lot of
personnel. It's hard to prepare for that. We're just a lot better
team than people give us credit for.''
Who can argue with that?
This was the second straight week the Patriots entered as an
underdog against a team that was supposed to be a contender. They
beat Pittsburgh 30-14 last Monday night in a rematch of last
season's AFC title game.
It also was a dramatically different second game of the season
than last year, when the Jets knocked out Drew Bledsoe with a chest
injury, paving the way for Brady to take over and lead New England
from 0-2 to the Super Bowl title.
So strong was the Patriots defense, that it held the Jets (1-1)
to one first down until Matt Turk ran 14 yards a fake punt with 4
minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Vinny Testaverde
then hit Santana Moss for 35 yards.
But Green, who spent the first nine years of his career with the
Jets, stepped in front of Richie Anderson on the next play and
returned it 90 yards untouched to give New England a 27-0 lead.
"Vinny's a great guy,'' Green said. "But I can't drop the ball
on purpose and not score a touchdown because he's a great guy.''
The Patriots led just 10-0 at halftime.
But on the first series of the second half, Jones blitzed from
his free safety spot and stripped Testaverde of the ball, recovered
the fumble and returned it 24 yards for a TD that made it 17-0.
New England controlled the first half and led 10-0 on Brady's
1-yard pass to Cam Cleeland with 8:40 left in the second quarter
and Vinatieri's 28-yarder with 1 second left before halftime. The
Jets had just one first down and 4 yards rushing in the half and
were outgained 257-48.
The first touchdown drive was a quickie -- 80 yards in six plays,
including a 39-yarder from Brady to David Patten that put the
Patriots on New York's 4. Brady finished 25-of-35 for 269 yards.
The field-goal drive was just the opposite -- 70 yards in 19
plays, the most plays ever for New England on a scoring drive.
"I came in at halftime thinking, 'We've been out there all
day,''' Brady said.
Just 1:35 into the second half, it was 17-0 on Jones' play.
The Jets went three and out and the Patriots ground out a
65-yard, 12-play drive to set up a 31-yarder by Vinatieri.
The Jets finally scored late in the third quarter on
Testaverde's 11-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Becht
But New England came right back, scoring on a 49-yard pass from
Brady to rookie Deion Branch to make it 34-7.
Vinatieri's third field goal came after the Jets went for it on
fourth-and-6 from their own 24.
Kevin Faulk added the final score on a 2-yard run.
"We've got good players. We've got smart players. We've got
humble players. We've got guys who love to play ball,'' Brady
Anderson has caught a pass in 50 straight games ... Jets
linebacker James Darling got his second career interception in the
second quarter. His other was with the Eagles three years ago. ...
New England's Troy Brown had all nine of his receptions in the
first half for 94 yards, but fumbled as he was about to score a
touchdown in the first quarter. ... Green's 90-yard interception
return was the fourth-longest in Patriots' history. ... The loss
was the biggest for the Jets since a 47-10 loss to Oakland in 1995.
In a driving rain on Halloween night in 1994, Brett Favre led the Green Bay Packers to a 33-6 win against the Bears on 'Monday Night Football.'
The Vikings are in the middle of the pack at forcing turnovers this season, and that's fine with coach Mike Zimmer.
Schaub is now in position to earn $1 million in playing incentives after replacing one of the most durable starters in NFL history.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford trails Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr by 397 yards on the career passing yards list.
Faced with injuries to ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, the Rams have been pleasantly surprised with Matt Longacre's performance.
The QBs of the NFL's lone remaining unbeatens are clear MVP material, and Cam Newton and Tom Brady are putting up numbers with underwhelming casts.