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Take Two-sday!

Posted Oct 11, 2011

The open-field tackling efforts of New England's two starting tackles may have been a hidden key in the victory over the Jets.

Though they are called tackles, they aren't generally asked to perform the job worthy of their moniker.

But in Sunday evening's big AFC East victory over the rival Jets, Patriots starting left tackle Matt Light and rookie right tackle Nate Solder may just have kept the momentum of the game from swinging the wrong way with their best impressions of Jerod Mayo.

With the Patriots leading by a score of 10-7 and less than 10 seconds to play in the first half, Tom Brady threw to Aaron Hernandez for what should have been an 11-yard touchdown. But the ball deflected through Hernandez' hands (the second-year tight end took full responsibly for Brady's first-ever red zone interception at Gillette Stadium) and to Antonio Cromartie for the interception.

Cromartie took possession a yard deep in the end zone and started sprinting down the right sideline in front of the New York bench. As the former All-Pro corner -- and holder of the longest touchdown return of any kind thanks to a 109-yard score on a missed field goal -- began to pick up speed, a number of Patriots offensive players and fellow Gang Green defensive teammates enter the equation. Logan Mankins makes an effort. Brady himself crosses Cromartie's face as he's blocked off the field by a Jet.

But it's Light and Solder who ended up saving the day for the Patriots. Light dives at Cromartie's feet and forces him to step out of bounds. That play was assisted by Solder -- who came all the way from his back side of the field at his right tackle spot – as Cromartie slowed up a bit when he saw Solder, who was given credit for the tackle, on the play.

With the touchdown having been saved, both teams headed to the locker room. New England, which had deferred after winning the coin toss, took the opening drive of the second half right down the field for the 17-7 lead. The Jets would quickly match, to pull to 17-14, but would never get any closer.

How would things have been different had Cromartie gone 101 yards for the interception return TD to give the Jets the 14-10 lead at the half? Would both teams have still scored to open the second half? Would momentum have swung even more dramatically than it did with just the pick and defensive stop itself?

We'll never really know. But one thing is for sure, both Light and Solder deserve plenty of credit for their hustle and effort in ensuring that New England went to the locker room with the lead. Brady once referred to his linemen as "fat cows" in a fit of practice field anger. Sunday they were saving Brady, Hernandez and the rest of their teammates from a halftime deficit that could very well have changed the outcome of the latest installment of the Border War.

And for that, they deserve a little extra attention and praise as we celebrate another Take Two-sday!

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