The rivalry between the Jets and Patriots always brings out the best in both teams. The coaches and players ramp up their preparation. The intensity level rises, and the fans are just a little louder.
It’s a different year and many of the names have changed. But the pride is still there for both teams.
The Jets have reached the portion of their schedule where it’s all about playing for pride. It’s all that’s left in another season which will end without a trip to the playoffs.
It’s not like they’re not used to this. The Jets, after all, are on pace for their eighth straight season without a playoff berth. Futility at its finest.
They returned from their bye week ready to host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. That’s not exactly the first guests you want over for Sunday dinner after a tough couple of weeks.
But, for the first 30 minutes of this game, it looked as if the Jets were up to the task of hosting their division rivals. It was New England looking like the team with a 3-7 record, not the Jets. They were using MetLife Stadium to host a flag party. They committed seven penalties for 75 yards.
The Jets, with the help of New England’s flag marathon, managed to stay afloat. Jason Myers nailed a 55-yard field goal, with eight seconds left, that helped send the game to halftime in a 10-10 tie.
Then, as expected, the Patriots woke up. They outscored the Jets, 17-3, in the second half to pull away with a 27-13 victory, Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets have now dropped their last five games, their record is now 3-8.
New England is now 35-16 against the Jets since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.
There was no Sam Darnold in this one for the Jets, the rookie quarterback was held out as he continues to rehab a sprained foot. There was, however, plenty of Tom Brady for New England. The 41-year old, with a troublesome bad knee, was his usual history-making self at quarterback.
Brady completed 20 of 31 passes for 283 yards, with two touchdowns. He averaged 9.1 yards per pass and, at times, made it look easy.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 25, 2018
It was on one drive, in the middle of the third quarter, with the game tied 13-13, where Brady did his most damage.
The Jets’ defense failed to get to him with a pass rush, big mistake. The secondary also left too many holes in their coverage, an even bigger mistake. Brady hit Chris Hogan for 27 yards, then running back James White ate up another 27 yards on the ground. One play later, Brady hit Julian Edleman on a 21-yard pass for the go-ahead touchdown.
Four plays. Easy peasy.
The difference in this game wasn’t just Brady’s performance. Pride played just as big a role in this game, for both teams.
Adams said, during the practice week, to be the best the Jets need to beat the best. New England is now 8-3 and destined for another division title. It would be their tenth straight. When it comes to the AFC East, the road still goes through New England.
The Patriots stumbled their way through the first half of this game. They were also coming off a bye week. This gave them an additional seven days to think about their last game, a 34-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
If the loss to the Titans, along with their penalty-filled first half this week, was going to be proof for New England’s critics their decade of divisional dominance is over — the Patriots once again stomped all over that theory.
“Certainly, there are plenty of things we need to work on, and things we could have done better today,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “But overall our guys competed hard.”
The Jets put forth a better effort than they did against Buffalo, two weeks ago. They looked like a team this week, they competed like a team with pride. At times, however, they tried to do too much. Sometimes when this happens you end up making a tough situation tougher.
This was especially the case when Brady took New England into the end zone on that explosive four-play drive.
“Some people trying to do too much,” Bowles said afterwards. “And over-jumping their gaps and miss-fits.”
Two teams headed in two completely different directions. But pride still plays a key role for both, as it should for every professional sports team.
It’s the one component to this rivalry which hasn’t changed.