Foxborough, Mass. - Nearly every time David Givens touches the ball, good things happen.
Givens, the gifted third-year receiver, led the Patriots with five receptions for 107 yards in Sunday's 13-7 win over the New York Jets. It was Givens second 100-yard game of the season and also the second of his career. With wide receivers Troy Brown and Deion Branch out with injuries for the fourth consecutive week, Givens' contributions are proving to be even more valuable.
"He's proven to be a very consistent playmaker for us," Quarterback Tom Brady said. "When you don't have Troy [Brown] playing, you don't have Deion [Branch] playing, David [Givens], David [Patten] and Bethel [Johnson] really have to step up and make plays. They did that and they continue to do that. David just continues to get better. He's been a starting receiver for about a year now, so he's doing a great job."
Given's contributions are even more valuable when considering the circumstances. Each of his 20 receptions this season have resulted in first downs. He had two key first down receptions on the opening drive of the game, for 18- and 15-yards, on a drive that ended in a 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri for a 3-0 Patriots lead. Facing a 2-and-10 on the Patriots second drive of the game, Brady found Givens deep down the left sideline for a 42-yard reception. Vinatieri hit a 27-yard field goal four plays later for a 6-0 lead.
"I just try to capitalize on my opportunities," Givens said. "The coaches make a great game plan. All I try to do is make the plays when they come my way."
Givens' effort wasn't lost on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
"He sure did," Belichick said. "He made some big plays. That was a good catch that he had down the sideline. He really went up and aggressively went for the ball. David stepped up. We had a lot of guys make big plays today, and he was certainly one of them."
Gay Replaces Wilson at Safety
Rookie defensive back Randall Gay made his first career start Sunday in place of free safety Eugene Wilson. Gay, an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana State, has seen increased playing time the past several weeks and responded well. He was solid in pass coverage against the Jets, breaking up a deep pass attempt from Chad Pennington to Johnathan Carter during the first quarter, and later making a nice tackle near the sideline after a 3-yard pass to Curtis Martin.
"With [Tyrone] Poole inactive, Gay had a number of snaps out there at both safety and corner, and some in the nickel defense," Belichick said. "It looked like he did a pretty good job. He's done a pretty solid job for us for a rookie."
Wilson, who started 15 regular-season games and all three playoff contests as a rookie last season, had started the first five games of the season. He returned on the Patriots second play in the nickel package, and played much of the rest of the game at safety, finishing with six tackles. Belichick wouldn't divulge his reasons for the switch in the lineup.
"Not any that we're going to talk about," Belichick said.
Best Start Ever
The Patriots improved to 6-0 this season with Sunday's win, the best ever start in franchise history. The only other time the Patriots had started a season at 5-0 was in 1974. The Patriots joined Philadelphia, who defeated Cleveland 34-31 in overtime, as the only remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.
First On The Board
Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal in the first quarter gave the Patriots a 3-0 lead, it was the 11th straight regular-season game and 14th game overall in which the Patriots scored first. The last time the Patriots did not get on the board first was on Nov. 23, 2003 at Houston. The Texans took an early 3-0 lead at Reliant Stadium in a game the Patriots went on to win 23-20 in overtime.
Samuel Gets Starting NodSecond-year cornerback Asante Samuel was in the starting lineup Sunday in place of the injured Poole. It was the second start of the season for Samuel, who also started for Poole against Miami Oct. 10. Samuel finished with three tackles, a forced fumble and two passes defended. Poole, who left last Sunday's 30-23 win over Seattle during the second half and did not return, had also missed portions of team practice during the week.
Chatham Added to Roster
The Patriots added linebacker and special teams aceMatt Chatham to the active roster prior to Sunday's game. Chatham practiced this week for the first time since beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list. He was active on the kickoff team but didn't record any tackles.
Game Day Inactives
The Patriots listed eight players as inactive for Sunday's game: Poole; Running back Patrick Pass; wide receivers Brown and Branch; offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski; and defensive linemen Marquise Hill and Ethan Kelley. Jim Miller was designated the third quarterback.
Sunday's attendance was 68,496. It was the 100th consecutive sellout for the Patriots. ... Brady completed 20-of-29 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. Brady's 7-yard touchdown pass to Patten marked the 12th consecutive game in which he has thrown a touchdown pass. ... FB Dan Kleckoleft the game early in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right knee injury. He was helped off the field. ... Right tackle Tom Ashworth, who was questionable on the injury report with an injured back, played the entire game. ... Rodney Harrison, Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi each recorded 10 total tackles. ... Bethel Johnson and Kevin Kasper served as the deep men on kickoffs Sunday. Johnson returned two kicks for 46 yards. ... Corey Dillon rushed 22 times for 115 yards, his third 100-yard game for the Patriots this season. The Patriots have now won each of their last 11 games in which they had a 100-yard rusher, dating back to the 1999 season.