]()We've been waiting since April and our patience paid off. Randy Moss made his Patriots debut and the hype didn't even live up to the results. Moss had nine catches for 183 yards (the third highest game total in his career) and a touchdown to lead the Patriots to a 38-14 rout of the New York Jets. Moss's yardage was also the third highest for a receiver in a game in Patriots history.
Tom Brady was equally magnificent. With Moss his leading receiver, he finished 22 of 28 for 297 yards and three touchdowns along with a gaudy 146.6 passer rating.
Between Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris, the Patriots had a decent ground game as well. Maroney finished with 72 yards on 20 carries while Morris had 54 yards but a 4.9 average.
It was a good indicator of the potentially explosive Patriots offense and a perfect way to start the season with a division win on the road.
]()Meanwhile, the Patriots defense made things rough for Jets QB Chad Pennington. He was sacked five times and eventually left the game with a bad leg. Mike Vrabel had 2.5 of the sacks while Jarvis Green has 2 of his own to go along with 6 tackles in his stint replacing the injured Richard Seymour.
With Ellis Hobbs' historic (see below) kickoff return on special teams, it was a three-way contribution to a win.
The Patriots first drive of the 2007 season couldn't have gone any better. Maroney opened the proceedings with three runs totaling 21 yards and then Brady started mixing things up. He hit Welker three times for 9, 10 and 11 yards, that last one a touchdown. Moss was in on the fun as well, going across the middle for 18 yards into the Jets red zone. It was a scoring drive made to look easy as the Patriots never even had a third down on the 91-yard drive until the third and 8 touchdown pass to Welker from 11 yards out.
As the first half progressed, a couple of mistakes kept the Patriots from adding to their lead. On a third and 2 from the 47 Welker was all alone in the flat, Brady found him but Welker took his eye off the ball and dropped the sure first down. Later, in the second quarter, Stephen Gostkowski was lined up for a 43-yard field goal but Matt Cassel mishandled the snap, never giving Gostkowski a chance to kick.
The Jets made the Patriots pay for the last error by driving 66 yards and tying the game at seven. Pennington dunked his way down field, going 6-6 for 68 yards with his longest pass being a 17-yarder to Laveranues Coles. Coles also caught the touchdown from 7 yards out.
]()New England regained the lead on the next drive. Just prior to the two-minute warning, Brady floated a ball down the right side and Moss simply ran under it, beating Justin Miller. That play went for 33 yards down to the Jets 28. On the next play, Moss lined up wide on the other side of the field against David Barrett. This time, Brady rifled a ball that Moss reached up and snared over Barrett's head for 22 yards. Three plays later Brady hit Benjamin Watson over the middle for the touchdown from 5 yards out.
Moss's first half numbers were 4 catches for 87 yards, an early indicator of how effective he could be with Brady.
The Jets had 1:07 left in the first half to try and gain some ground but a sack by Green had New York working from a hole and the clock ran out with the Jets netting minus 1 yards.
Hobbs opened the second half by going 108 yards for the Patriots longest kickoff return in team and NFL history. Normally when a player fields a kick 8 yards deep in the end zone, the wise choice is to take a knee for a touchback. But Hobbs never hesitated, starting out on the right and weaving his way to the left and down the sideline.
Things got a lot worse for the Jets on their next drive. Green had just stopped Thomas Jones for a loss of 2 setting up second and 12 from the 41. Pennington dropped back but his pocket totally collapsed. As Green took him down for an 8-yard sack, Pennington's leg got caught underneath and from that moment he knew he was in trouble. He hobbled over to the sideline, slammed his helmet to the ground as Jets fans moaned. The Jets punted two plays later.
Showing no pity, Brady went for the kill. He hit Moss for 19 yards to on the first play of the new drive. Then, four plays later and from 51 yards out, Moss went from right to left deep. With three Jets in the vicinity, Moss simply glided past them and underneath the perfectly thrown ball for a touchdown. Just like that it was 28-7 Patriots.
Apparently, Pennington's injury looked worse that it was because he was back on the field -- albeit limping -- for the Jets next possession. He went right to work, hitting a series of mid-range passes to Coles and Chris Baker, eventually winding up on the Patriots 1-yard line. From there, Coles lined up in the slot against Asante Samuel. Pennington lofted up a ball as Coles headed for the back left corner and Coles hauled it in to make the score 28-14 with 2:19 left in a wild third quarter.
The 17-play drive by the Patriots that followed ended with a 22-yard field goal and made the score 31-14. The extended drive left only 6:51 to play and looked to be a back-breaker. A steady dose of Morris and Maroney kept the clock ticking.
To make the situation more dire for the Jets, Pennington was no longer able to go and was replaced by Kellen Clemens. Forty-nine seconds later, the Patriots had the ball back.
The Patriots looked to run the clock out with Maroney. He ran three times for 12 yards. On second and 9, Brady hit Welker for 9 yards with an additional 15 yards tacked on for a Barrett face mask. Two plays later Brady found Moss yet again for 13 yards to the 1. Evans got the call from there and appeared to have the touchdown but the ruling on the field was that he never got in. The play was challenged but the ruling stood.
That brought up second and goal and with Junior Seau as the lead blocker. Evans leaped over the pile for the game's final score.