FOXBOROUGH — This is what you can call an ugly win for the Patriots.
The team didn’t get any lucky bounces. Instead, the defense earned the win after momentum halting sack shared by Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham in overtime.
The 29-26 victory over the New York Jets was an anomaly compared to the Patriots’ other three wins, which were marked by mostly one thing: A 100-yard rusher. Stevan Ridley finished with 65 yards on 17 carries. With Shane Vereen’s 49 yards and Danny Woodhead’s 17, the team totaled 131.
Here are some thoughts from Sunday’s game:
1) Mark Sanchez had a good game — Or did the Patriots secondary have another poor outing? With Devin McCourty playing safety for Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson in for the injured Steve Gregory, Alfonzo Dennard starting at corner in place of McCourty, and Ras-I Dowling seeing renewed playing time in sub packages, the secondary was more garbage pail than lunch pail as usual. Sanchez tallied 328 yards on 28 of 41 passing, throwing only one spectacularly ugly ball, a gimme interception for Dennard. But he also had a key drive where he was a cool 9 of 10 passing before hitting Dustin Keller for a 7-yard touchdown. The Patriots gave up six pass plays of 20 yards or more, good for 39 in the NFL. That’s the most in the league. It’s tough to give Sanchez the credit for his seventh career 300-yard game (53 starts) when he was facing one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.
2) Jermaine Cunningham is becoming an every-down player — This is Cunningham’s year. He has the speed and now it appears he has the strength to deal with tackles on a regular basis. His overtime sack with Ninkovich was just a matter of who got to the quarterback first. In this instance, it was Cunningham. He was providing pressure all game and has shown that he’s tough to handle for opposing tackles. He’s certainly come a long way from last season’s healthy nine-game appearance in which he recorded a total of one tackle.
“Jermaine worked hard, he had a good offseason, he was one of our offseason award winners,” said Bill Belichick. “I think that’s indicative of his work ethic. We’ve played him at several different positions this year, both outside and inside, both ends, both tackles. He’s been a versatile guy for us, as well as some plays in the kicking game. He’s been productive for us. We’ve asked him to do a lot of different things and he’s done a good job.”
For more of this post, visit the original on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.
After coming off a 24-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots are now up against the New York Jets. Everybody in the AFC East is 3-3 and there’s considerable hype, as always. Here’s my Patriots midweek report that I do for CineSport and Boston.com.
Dallas Cowboys - First and foremost, let’s get America’s Team and God’s Team, which by no coincidence happen to be the same team, into the playoffs. If Arizona can make it, and either San Diego or Denver can make it, I feel like the Cowboys deserve to make it. And I deserve it. I’ve been good this year. If they don’t beat the Eagles, at least they’ll have ripped my heart out early this year and I can enjoy the playoffs.
Detroit Lions - To lose. It’s more accurate to say I’m rooting for the Lions to lose than I am for the Packers to win. I want to see the first 0-16 team; I couldn’t care less how many wins the Packers finish with. After Detroit completes the worst possible season, I’d like them to be in the playoffs next year, cause man that sucks. I’d also like to demand a trade for Calvin Johnson. If he’s not going to say it, I will. He might have been my most reliable fantasy player, and I can only wonder what he might’ve done on a real team.
San Diego Chargers - I hate the idea of an 8-8 team winning their division and going to the playoffs. The winner of the AFC West should be irrelevant to the playoffs. But since somebody has to “win” it, I’m going with the Chargers. They’re more talented and could do more damage in the postseason, and they’ve had a few unlucky breaks along the way coughEdHochulicough. Denver, meanwhile, started 3-0 and should’ve clinched the division midway through the season. There’s no way it should’ve come down to a week 17 winner-take-all. Screw em. They don’t deserve it.
Miami Dolphins - Again, any team that wants to give their playoff ticket away as badly as the Jets do, I want to let them. Seeing Chad Pennington keep Brett Favre and the Jets out of the playoffs while leading his team in will just be icing on the cake.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I just think it’s funny every time a coach that Al Davis fires (or trades I guess) comes back to beat him and the Raiders. I’m praying they let Tom Cable go and he wins the Super Bowl with the Lions next year.
Minnesota Vikings – I just hate the Giants. God I hate them so much.