The Patriots, its coaches, players and fans couldn't ask for anything more in this early, early game against the Jets. That's because Matt Cassel did everything he needed to do to pull out a 19-10 win. Cassel went 16 of 23 for 165 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown but more importantly, he didn't throw an interception. Meanwhile, Lamont Jordan pitched in with 62 late yards on 11 carries. Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk provided Cassel with dependable safety valves throughout. Welker was good for 7 catches and 72 yards while Faulk caught 4 balls for 50 yards.
The Patriots defense did its job, sacking Brett Favre twice and Brandon Meriweather picking him off early in the second half to give his team the momentum swing it needed. It was a total team effort on that side of the ball with Rodney Harrison leading the way in tackles (8) and Jerod Mayo nipping at his heels (7).
The win keeps New England on top of the AFC East at 2-0, tied with the Buffalo Bills.
The first half was a defensive struggle.
]()New England won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Jets the ball first. On that drive, Favre converted a third and 4 from the Patriots 31 with a 13-yard pass to Leon Washington and then faced a third and 8 two plays later from the 17. This time, finding no one open, he kept up the middle but misjudged his slide and wound up well short of the first down marker. Jay Feely was wide right on the gimme 31-yard field goal and the Jets came up empty.
Cassel and his offense took over on the Jets 21. After a 2-yard run by Laurence Maroney to open the drive, Cassel hit Faulk out of the backfield for a 14-yard completion. Welker scampered for 18 yards to the Jets 43 and three plays after that, caught a short pass on a well-designed play and went 26 yards down to the Jets 5.
From the 5, Cassel threw his first incomplete in five attempts out of the end zone, Faulk was stopped at the 2 and Maroney was stuffed on third down. That brought out Stephen Gostkowski and he was good on a 21-yard field goal to give the Patriots an early 3-0 lead.
It was an encouraging start for Cassel, going 4 of 5 for 61 yards in his first-ever starting drive.
New England got the ball back in good field position after holding the Jets to only 1 yard on their next possession. Faulk took Ben Graham's punt to the Jets 38. Cassel picked right up where he left off on his first drive, hitting Welker for 9 yards on a quick pass to the left. It was Welker again for 4 yards to the Jets 30 as the first quarter ended.
The teams switched ends and the Patriots miraculously converted a third and 4 as Cassel's pass was batted up in the air at the line of scrimmage by Calvin Pace and traveled 9 yards downfield into the arms of Faulk. That moved the ball to the 21 but New England's drive stalled there with two Cassel incompletes. Gostkowski was good from 37 yards to make the score 6-0 with 13:16 left in the first half.
It looked like New England might stop the Jets three and out again on the Jets next possession but Favre bought time on third and 9 and found Laveranues Coles as the Patriots coverage broke down. James Sanders tracked Coles down but not until he gained 54 yards to the Patriots 25. Favre converted a third and 5 with a 6-yard pass to Chansi Stuckey and then Leon Washington ripped off an 11-yard run to the 3.
The Jets played it ultra conservative on three straight plays, running right into the middle of the Patriots run defense. That defense held all three times with stops by Sanders and Tedy Bruschi on first down, Harrison on second and Richard Seymour on third. Feely hit his 21-yard attempt to put the Jets on the board.
With 2:12 left in the half, New England got the ball back at the Jets 48 after a disasterous series for New York in which it lost 8 yards on its first two plays. Graham's punt was equally ineffective, traveling only 29 yards.
]()The Patriots didn't look much better. Cassel's first down pass bounced off Welker and Sammy Morris lost 2 yards on a broken play on second down. Randy Moss got into the action with an 8-yard catch over the middle, 4 yards short of a first down and the Patriots were forced to punt with 1:14 left.
The Jets had burned all their timeouts earlier in the half. That coupled with a Seymour sack on first down, dropping Favre 9 yards in his backfield, doomed any chance the Jets had of a quick score before time ran out and the teams headed to halftime with New England up, 6-3.
Both teams opened the second half with ugly drives. New England's first attempt was sack-filled while the Jets comitted three penalties in six snaps. On the seventh, Favre looked downfield on third and a mile to Chris Baker but Brandon Meriweather had it read all the way and picked off the pass, returning it to the Jets 31.
The sacks continued for the Patriots as Cassel was dropped on first down by Kris Jenkins for a loss of 5. Faulk bailed out his team yet again with a catch for 5 back to the line of scrimmage and then a 22-yard screen pass down to the 8-yard line. After Morris, who was in the game for an injured Maroney (shoulder) carried for no gain, Cassel found Welker in front of the goal line for 7 yards. On third and goal, Morris went airborne for the score and a 13-3 Patriots lead.
The Patriots defense held the Jets to three and out after the score and Faulk came up big again with a 24-yard return of Graham's punt to the New York 39.
Jordan provided a spark with five carries down to the Jets 14. The Jets held on from there, hitting Morris for a 2-yard loss on second and 6 and then getting to Faulk after a 7-yard run. Gostkowski hit his third field goal of the day, a 28-yarder, to make the score 16-3 with seconds left in the third quarter.
With play moving into the fourth quarter and the Jets with the ball, suddenly, Favre and his offense showed some life. On the ground and through the air, New York was picking up chunks of yardage. At New England's 39, Dustin Keller pulled down a pass for 19 yards to the 20. Favre then saw Ellis Hobbs with loose coverage, audibled at the line and threw a quick pass to Coles for 10 yards. Thomas Jones was next, blasting up the middle for 8 yards. The scoring play was a floater to Stuckey to make the score 16-10 with 10:18 left to play.
It was time for Cassel to earn his stripes and he looked ready, hitting Moss for 14 yards on first down from the 20 and then David Thomas for 14 more on the the next play. On first and 10 from the 48, he went for it all. Cassel play-actioned to Morris, the Jets bit and Moss was running downfield with at least two steps on Darrelle Revis. But Cassel's pass hung up long enough for Revis to catch up and do enough to keep Moss from getting a handle.
Cassel brushed off the missed opportunity and came right back. After Jordan picked up 8 yards setting up a third and 2 from the Jets 44, the call was pass and Cassel found Morris for 4 yards, getting decked in the process as flags flew. Pace was called for roughing Cassel and with the penalty, New England had a first and 10 at the Jets 25. Jordan picked up another 9 yards to the Jets 13 two plays later but the Jets kept the Patriots out of the end zone and Gostkowski hit his 27-yard field goal to make the score 19-10.
At this point the clock was New York's enemy. With the Patriots defense expecting pass, Adalius Thomas was set loose and he sacked Favre for a loss of 20 on second down, slinging the Jets QB down at the 7-yard line on New York's next possession.
New England got the ball back with 3:45 left and was content to keep the ball on the ground. Jordan did most of the work although Maroney returned to action with a carry for a loss of 1. Despite that, it was New England third a 6 at the Jets 32 with two minutes left to play.
Morris carried for 3 yards when play resumed. On fourth and 3, the Patriots went for it. Cassel hit Welker for 5 yards on a quick pass to the left for the first down and the game was the Patriots'.