…How did RB Shane Vereen get so open on his first touchdown catch? QB Tom Brady was in an empty backfield shotgun, with WRs Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman to the left, TEs Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright to the right, and Vereen split wide right between the numbers and the Patriots sideline. New York was playing zone D. At the snap, Wright ran a 5-yard out pattern and Gronk, lined up next to RT Sebastian Vollmer, a 7-yard curl. CB Phillip Adams, who was initially covering Vereen, let Vereen go by him so that Adams could account for Wright. LB Calvin Pace also stayed put to guard Gronk. Edelman was running a crossing pattern into the right side flat, while LaFell had run a slant into the middle of the field. So, all of Brady's targets, save Vereen, were amassing up within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage on the right side. Adams assumed he had safety help in the form of Antonio Allen, but Allen decided to move up to provide coverage in that heavily trafficked area to the right when he saw Brady scramble out of the pocket in that direction. Allen should have realized he was responsible for the deep ball, especially when Vereen went racing down the sideline just a few feet away from him. Brady, though, very nearly overthrew the uncovered Vereen, who did a marvelous job sprinting ahead and extending fully to make the diving reception and roll over the goal line for the score.
…New York's offensive line was doing a good job of handling New England's front 7, both in pass pro and run blocking. One exception was the holding penalty by LG Oday Aboushi that wiped out QB Geno Smith's TD toss to WR Jeremy Kerley. Aboushi blatantly grabbed LB Dont'a Hightower by the left shoulder and tossed him to the ground as Hightower was bearing down on Smith in the pocket. Right call by the officiating crew.
…In addition to the near miss to Vereen, Brady was off-target on a short out-pattern to a wide open Gronk on the first play of the next New England possession. Just fired the ball over Gronkowski's head and out of bounds.
…CB Darrelle Revis, facing his old team for the first time as a Patriot, was tasked mostly with shadowing New York's best receiver, Eric Decker. Revis got beaten on the second Jets drive by a great throw by Smith. He arched the ball over Revis' outstretched arm to Decker, who was running a corner route to the sideline. Revis had good position to make the play, and nearly did, but Smith's throw was pin-point accurate. Decker made a nice catch and stumbled out of bounds for the 24-yard gain. Not much else Revis could have done better there.
…A Chandler Jones sack of Smith was wiped out by a holding call against CB Brandon Browner, who was making his first regular season appearance for New England. Jones had beaten LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson with a speed rush and good hand-fighting technique. Jones got behind Smith, who didn't see the DE coming as Smith tried to move out of the pocket to the right. But Browner had made contact with tight end Jace Amaro, who was Smith's first read on the play. Smith had to look elsewhere, though, because of the grabbing that Browner did to slow down Amaro.
…Brady's deep incompletion to LaFell at the start of the second quarter was a bit overthrown, but the bigger miscue may have been going to LaFell on that play in the first place. It appeared that Wright would have been a better option, running a post pattern in the middle of the field. All of Brady's other targets were well covered, but Wright had the most space between him and his nearest defender, who was a deep safety. Wright's route was underneath the safety, but Brady wasn't looking his way. Could have been a big gain and an easy first down.
…The holding penalty against Revis on New York's first drive of the quarter was a bad call by the officials. Decker merely stumbled on his own feet. Revis may have had a hand graze Decker's back in the process, but that wasn't what caused the receiver to fall. Should not have been a penalty, and it negated an otherwise nice pass defense by CB Logan Ryan on WR David Nelson.
…Hightower was credited with a sack of Smith on the next play, but it wasn't a sack in the traditional sense. Smith had taken a very deep drop on his play-action fake, and when he decided to tuck and run because Jones was pursuing him up the middle, he barely made it back to the line of scrimmage and was wrapped up by Hightower as Smith attempted to slide. Hightower got the credit, but it was really Jones who caused the play to happen.
…The one time Brady was sacked Thursday night was similar to the Smith play. Brady, on a designed rollout to the right, found no suitable options to throw to down field and was trying to run back to the line of scrimmage. Several Jets defenders converged and he gave himself up a yard short of the line. LB David Harris was closest to him and two-hand touched Brady to get credit for the sack. Not really a fault of the Patriots' o-line on that one. They actually did a fairly good job protection Brady on the night.
…Vereen's second touchdown catch came on a 3rd-and-goal from the Jets' 3-yard line. Once again, he was split wide, this time to the left, but motioned back toward Brady, who was in the gun, and settled next him on Brady's left. LaFell was also lined up wide left, while Gronk, Edelman, and WR Danny Amendola were his receivers to the right. New York was playing zone again, and Vereen found a small pocket between two defenders at the goal line and sat in it. Brady made the quick throw – a bit behind Vereen, to which the back again did a nice job of adjusting and hauling in the pass. Vereen saved Brady on both of those scoring tosses.
…The o-line has gotten considerable scrutiny so far this season, and often rightly so. However, Jordan Devey's personal foul penalty, if not entirely unfair, should have at the very least been an offsetting penalty on New York. Devey had come to defend his QB, who was knocked down by LB Antwan Barnes after Brady had thrown the ball away. Barnes wasn't flagged for the shove after the fact on Brady, which he should have been. It was clearly a late hit and a cheap shot by Barnes. That's why Devey reacted the way he did, and it's hard to fault him for sticking up for his teammate.
…Decker was a key component to New York's touchdown drive to start the second half. He caught one pass for 14 yards, on a rare occasion when Revis wasn't guarding him. He then had an 18-yard pick-up against Revis by virtue of a well-run route on 3rd-and-12 from the NE 26. Decker sold Revis, who was playing Decker to the inside, that he was going out, then quickly cut back to the inside. Revis didn't get a good jam on Decker at the line of scrimmage because the Jets had stacked another receiver with Decker, and Revis was playing a little off the line to compensate for a potential pick play by the offense. He then bit on Decker's out-move momentarily and was forced to swivel clockwise to recover, but Decker already had enough separation and Smith fired a precise pass. Decker picked up extra yards after the catch to secure the first down.
…RB Chris Ivory's 1-yard touchdown plunge was aided considerably by his "fullback" on the play, d-lineman Sheldon Richardson. Hightower shot the B-gap and would have possibly stopped Ivory short, but Richardson swallowed him up with a nice block and Ivory dove over the top of them. LB Jamie Collins came flying in a little too late to stop Ivory's momentum.
…Casey Walker got his first sack as a Patriot late in the quarter. He was playing nose tackle and had engaged the right guard at the snap. Walker drove him back a bit, but not far enough, so, Walker backed up and the guard took his eyes off Walker, looking for someone else to block. Smith, feeling pressure from both sides of the pocket, stepped up and hesitated. An unblocked Walker ran straight at him and was met by several other Patriots teammates, but Walker got there first and got credit for the sack.
…Jones got a sack that counted against Smith at the start of the quarter. He made it look easy by speed-rushing Ferguson and simply shoving him out of the way as he proceeded to Smith on 3rd-and-5. A good individual effort by Jones coupled with terrible technique shown by Ferguson on that play, which forced the Jets to punt.
…Browner's second holding penalty of the night came a short time later, and it was similar to Revis', in that Browner barely breathed on WR T.J. Graham, who slipped on the turf. Bad call, but Browner's reputation for physical play may have preceded him on that play. Unfairly so, in this instance.
…DL Chris Jones, meanwhile, was lucky not to have had a flag thrown against him when he hit Smith on the left knee while the QB was delivering a pass from the pocket. NFL rules stipulate that a defender cannot strike a passer in that area when he's in such a position (you may recall it has become known as the Tom Brady Rule), but no flag was thrown. Smith missed just one play, but it looked worse initially.
…On 3rd-and-goal from the Jets' 19, Amendola finally snapped out of his pass-catching drought with a phenomenal touchdown grab. He was lined up slot left with Brady in an empty backfield shotgun. Amendola ran a short curl route, but just then, Brady began scrambling and Amendola improvised by turning back and heading for the sideline. With his defender a step behind him, Amendola cut up-field and raced for the end zone. He said later that this is something they practice at least once a week. Brady, running to his left, fired a pass that was behind Amendola, who was forced to leap and spin clockwise to make the catch in mid-air between the 2- and 3-yard lines. His momentum carried him over the goal line as he fell back to the ground. A third example on this night of Brady's receiver's bailing him out of a less-than-perfect throw.
…Smith's o-line protected him well on the final scoring drive, though he wasn't facing a whole lot of pressure from a New England defense that was mostly sitting back to avoid a big play. His TD pass to TE Jeff Cumberland was nothing more than a slant route on which safety Patrick Chung was just a step too slow to make a play on the football. Smith's ensuing two-point conversion pass attempt to Amaro would have tied the game had Smith thrown a better ball. Amaro easily got open behind the secondary, but the pass floated over his head and out of the back of the end zone.
…Chris Jones' game-clinching block of a Nick Folk 58-yard field goal was more a product of Folk's low trajectory, but credit Jones with doing what his responsibility called for: getting as much penetration as possible in the middle of the line and making himself as big as possible by jumping and reaching up with his arms. Jones got a hand on the football to knock it to the ground and end the game.
DO YOUR JOB:
Danny Amendola – Though he hasn't been much of a factor on offense thus far in 2014, Amendola has been healthy and doing whatever is asked of him. Thursday against New York, he was mostly asked to return kickoffs, which he did four times for 105 yards. He also caught just one pass, but it was a highlight-reel one for a touchdown, and recovered a crucial onside kick in the fourth quarter.