The New England Patriots are at 2-0 after beating the New York Jets on Sept. 12. However, the Patriots might as well have started 0-2, given how they got their two wins in the last five days. For the second straight game, New England almost let its lack of receiving depth and offensive production cost it against a rookie quarterback from the AFC East, as Geno Smith fell three points shy of an upset.
The 13-10 victory was achieved mainly from the Patriots’ first drive, as they marched to the end zone on a six-play, 81 yard drive and a 39-yard touchdown catch from Aaron Dobson. With Smith and the Jets unable to get into the end zone in the first half, it should have been the lopsided game everyone expected.
Yet both New York and New England had touchdowns overturned in the second quarter, as the reversal against the Patriots erased what would have become a 20-3 lead and led to a missed field goal. The Jets took advantage after halftime and finally got a touchdown of their own, but it was the last scoring play of the night.
The Jets’ best chance to steal a victory came when they drove to the Patriots’ 27 early in the fourth. However, New England’s Aqib Talib kept New York from at least tying the game by picking off Smith, in the first of three Patriot interceptions in the fourth quarter. Unlike in Smith’s first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he wouldn’t be bailed out by a late out-of-bounds hit.
The Patriots didn’t need a last-second field goal to bail themselves out against a rookie quarterback, like they did against the Buffalo Bills and E.J. Manuel on Sept. 8. Technically, this victory was an improvement in that respect, in spite of scoring only six points in the last 58 minutes.
With no Danny Amendola to go along with no Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady frequently miscommunicated with the receivers he had left. It didn’t cost the Patriots in the end, and they will now get a long rest before hosting the Buccaneers on Sept. 22.
However, with the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints looming in the next three weeks after that, the Patriots may not have much more time to win like this, if they keep winning at all.