by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
The final score might make this win over the Jets look easy, but until Laurence Maroney bolted through the line for the 31-14 final with five minutes left, few in Foxboro felt that way.
When the Patriots led 24-0 with under a minute left in the first half, their punt from deep in their own territory seemed inconsequential. Maybe that was the problem. The home team allowed a blocked punt return for a touchdown, giving the annoyingly scrappy visitors some momentum for a hard-fought second half.
Some other notes on this closer-than-comfy contest…
Big Apple Turnovers: It looks like a bit of the shine has come off the rookie. Quarterback Mark Sanchez had a rough day, throwing four interceptions and fumbling once. Sanchez completed eight of 21 passes for 136 yards, 62 of those coming during New York’s only offensive scoring drive that began the second half.
Special Teems With Problems: The aforementioned blocked punt. Two penalties on Brett “Special Teams Are My Living” Lockett. A missed 40-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Allowing an average of almost 30 yards per kickoff return (five for 148). No, it didn’t affect the final outcome, but all that stuff adds up. Now it needs some fixing.
You hear me, Coach Scott O’Brien?
Tom Delay: Hard to watch Tom Brady have two delay of game penalties called against him. Considering he played at home, we don’t consider crowd noise an issue. But, hey, if that’s our only complaint about his day (28 of 41, 310 yards, TD), we’ll just shut up now.
Bodden Paid For: This off-season, when free agent defensive back Leigh Bodden got signed, many questioned his pedigree (from Cleveland through 2007 to winless Detroit in 2008). After three picks Sunday, his first one returned for a TD (you can watch the clip here), Bodden seems to feel at home in New England.
Jet-Throw Tully: Remember how old friend Tully Banta-Cain seemed like an underdog to return to the roster over other pass-rushing linebackers? Yeah. Well, Banta-Cain’s two sacks of Sanchez (including a forced fumble late) raised his team-leading total to five, one more than Derrick Burgess and Adalius Thomas combined.
Phys. Edelman: With about five minutes left and leading by 10, the home team needed a first down. Rookie receiver Julian Edelman caught the ball three yards short, ricocheted off two would-be tacklers and spun past a third for a six-yard gain. New England scored five plays later to seal the win.
And now, the best for last…
All’s Well That Ends Welker: Boy, that Wes Welker sure knows how to procure the ol’ pigskin, don’t he? The hyper homunculus snatched 15 passes for 192 yards Sunday. For reference, consider that this lone performance would make Welker the Pats’ sixth-leading receiver in 2009 behind himself, Randy Moss, Edelman, Kevin Faulk and Ben Watson.
Email Chris Warner at [email protected]