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New York Jets' Jay Feely (3) reacts after hitting a 39-yard field goal during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 16-9.
Anyone who’s seen “Reservoir Dogs” — and even those who haven’t — know the line: “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” It’s almost as if Quentin Tarantino wrote it with this Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game in mind.
During the past seven days, the Jets kept barking at the Patriots. You figured come Sunday that they’d bite. You just didn’t know how hard.
Well, on Sunday the New England Patriots went 60 minutes and didn’t score a touchdown. They lost a regular-season game started by Tom Brady for the first time since December of 2006. The Jets had plenty of bite to back up that bark.
You can stack up reasons or excuses for the Patriots. They were playing without middle linebacker Jerod Mayo and receiver Wes Welker. They had a short week after a Monday night game. Brady was playing just his second game since coming off last year’s knee surgery. The Pats were on the road. Rex Ryan leaves better voice mails than Bill Belichick.
The “why” doesn’t matter. The “what” does. And the “what” is that the Jets beat the Patriots at home for the first time since 2000.
After walking the plank with their lips this week, the Jets backed it up. And in the end, that’s going to mean a lot more to them than the Patriots. New England doesn’t need validation that they are good (though they might soon). The Jets, after a dominant performance in their opener against the Texans, did. Normally, you don’t say “losing is not an option” in Week 2. The Jets were pretty close.
The temptation is to mythologize the Jets' performance. To make it seem a downtrodden band of football misfits got together and rose up against the tyrannical Patriots. Anyone doing that will be conveniently forgetting that, through 11 games last season New York was 8-3 and coming off a dominating win over the previously unbeaten Titans. A Favre-led collapse took the shine off of them but they are in fact, a good team.
The Jets were validated Sunday. Yeah, this Mark Sanchez kid is as good as we hoped. Yup, we are playing just like Rex said we would. And absolutely, we can not only play with and stay with the Patriots, we can shut them down.
More thoughts on Patriots-Jets, with the rest of Week 2 to follow:
Texans potent, but can't stop anyone
All the morons that lined up to say the Houston Texans were going to break through in 2009 (I was third in line) weren’t feeling real positive when Houston fell behind Tennessee 21-7 in the first half. But the reason we bought into Houston — offensive talent — finally showed up.
Quarterback Matt Schaub got rid of the ball on time. Andre Johnson made an absurd juggling touchdown catch and finished with 10 receptions for 149 yards and 2 scores. Tight end Owen Daniels and wideout Jacoby Jones combined for 8-145-2. And even though Steve Slaton found nowhere to run against the Titans defense, there will be better days.
Bad news for those of us who think Houston’s good. They still can’t stop anybody on defense, witness Chris Johnson’s 16-carry, 197-yard, two touchdown performance.
Can Favre even throw downfield?
Captain Checkdown was at it again in Minnesota. Brett Favre’s longest completion of the day went for 16 yards and he completed 23 of 27 for a modest 155 yards and two touchdowns. Again, we cannot criticize Favre for doing what everyone says he has to — take what’s given him and not make stupid forced throws. Still, is it wisdom or concern with protecting that torn rotator cuff that’s keeping Favre from going downfield with regularity? If it’s the former, someone he should have frayed that thing years ago.
Raiders' Russell is regressing
How do you figure Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell? On Sunday, he went 7 for 24 for 109 yards against the Chiefs. Through two games, he’s 19 for 54 for 317 yards with two picks and a touchdown. He's completing 35 percent of his passes.
On Sunday, 67 of those passing yards and four of those completion came in a 45-second span of game time during the Raiders game-winning drive. That Raiders won despite being outgained 409 yards to 166 will no doubt muddy the waters and lead people to believe that Russell had a heroic day. No. He’s not close to where he should be in season three. He’s not even in the same time zone.
Chiefs can't catch a break
The Chiefs got their hearts broken Sunday by Oakland. And the loss hurts doubly bad because they hung in so well on the road against Baltimore last Sunday before losing. They’re trying to rebuild from past scratch. They needed a frickin’ bone. Didn’t get it.
Silver lining in Kolb's day
If you’re an Eagles fan, you see that 48-22 score hanging out there and you start thinking to yourself, “If Donovan can’t go what’s the harm in letting Vick go next week? Or at least Jeff Garcia? Kevin Kolb threw three picks.”
Yes he did. And all three came in the second half. But two of them came in the final three minutes when the horse was out of the barn, down the street and drinking at the Horsehead Inn.
For the day, Kolb went 31 for 51 for 391 yards with two touchdowns to go with the three picks. Garcia is not the quarterback in Philly in 2011. Neither is McNabb nor, quite likely, Vick. Kolb could be. And he showed enough — despite the loss — to earn a little rope in a city that isn’t known for giving it.
Green Bay's bumming day
Speaking of limited patience, after sitting through a 6-10 season in 2008, Packers fans aren’t going to show a lot of patience for their hyped-up team if it keeps on like this. After being handed a win last week in Chicago, Green Bay figured to come back to Lambeau and go upside the head of the visiting Bengals. Didn’t happen. A third-and-34 conversion late in the second half when Green Bay had Cincy backed up in its own end gave the Bengals life.
By the end of the day, Packers fans would be handed the indignity of Chad Ochocinco executing a Lambeau Leap and watching as their team couldn’t get lined up properly for a final play from inside the Bengals 10.
Hasselbeck hit hard, and cleanly
You might wonder why an East Coast sportswriter would feel at liberty to guess at an injury suffered by a quarterback on the West Coast. Well, I was an English major. And I know how to drive a forklift. Plus, when Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got slammed in the back by 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis at the goal line, it looked precisely like the same hit that broke ribs on Donovan McNabb.
Only harder. And the look on Hasselbeck’s face — like he couldn’t breathe — leads one to believe that he is going to be on ice for a while. And while the burrowing hits on players already down have got to be stopped, this was not one of those. It was at the goal line and Hasselbeck was sliding head first, not feet first making him capable of crawling into the end zone. There was nothing dirty about it.
Antwan Odom of the Bengals rolls up five, count ‘em five sacks on Sunday against Green Bay. Coming into 2008, Odom had 15.5 career sacks. His high for a season was eight set in 2006. He’s now got seven in 2009. … It would absolutely not surprise me to see Matt Ryan playing in February. I’m just saying, the kid rolls out of bed every Sunday, goes out, goes something like 21 for 27 with three touchdown passes as he did against Carolina on Sunday and then heads home. … Serious bounce back from Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme. After looking old and ragged last week against the Niners, Warner completed 15 in a row to start the game against Jacksonville and went 24 for 26. Jacksonvillians fans will be happy that one was blacked out. Meanwhile, Delhomme who started throwing picks from the time he got off the bus last weekend, only threw one this week against Philly. Baby steps.
After having only three passes thrown his way in a Monday night loss to New England, Terrell Owens made sure everyone knew that Bills quarterback Trent Edwards missed some reads” down the field. So Sunday, as the Bills were stomping on Tampa, Edwards went up top to Owens who was burning down the left sideline. The perfectly thrown pass … went directly over Owens’ shoulder and dropped through his hands. We’ll see if Edwards mentions how T.O. missed some opportunities down the field.
And the intruiging
Watch the dynamic between Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and his coach, Todd Haley. On Sunday, Cassel had to burn a timeout on fourth-and-2 and, as he went to the sideline, he began unloading to (or at) Haley. Haley appeared to loudly answer Cassel. There are no indications yet that it’s anymore than two fiery guys getting caught up in the course of the game.