2008 NFL Football Season: Week 11, Patriots Miscues Lead to Loss Against Jets

Jabbar Gaffney Drops a 1st Down Pass

Jabbar Gaffney Drops a 1st Down Pass

New York Jets over New England Patriots, 34-31 (OT)

For much of this game both offenses pretty much moved the ball at will against the opposing team’s defense (third quarter excepted). The key difference in the game was superior special teams play on kickoff returns by the Jets, poor red zone offense by the Patriots, and three miscues on offense by the Patriots in the third quarter that cost them scoring opportunities. Even though the Patriots got down 24-6 late in the first half, they didn’t lay down and made a real game of it. But in the end, the Patriots, as they did against the Colts, lost a game they could have, and should have won. It is very unusual to see the Patriots beat themselves. For Patriots fans used to better, it’s also disheartening.

The first half of the game was a disaster defensively for the Patriots. The Jets scored on every single drive they started: two touchdowns, a field goal, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Meanwhile the Patriots were in the red zone twice and traded field goals for touchdowns with the Jets until a nice last minute drive to close the half with a touchdown to close the gap 24-13. Matt Cassel seems to have a lot of trouble in the red zone, and in fact has the lowest percentage in the NFL for red zone touchdown passes. He threw a terrible pass to Randy Moss in the end zone that forced us to settle for three instead of six. Cassel had a decent first half but he was often inaccurate with his throws toward the sideline.

The third quarter was one of the most frustrating quarters of football I have watched. The Patriots defense finally stepped up and stopped the Jets and the offense was moving the ball well. But miscues by the Patriots offense turned a quarter that could have been a sterling come back into an embarrassing and uncharacteristic series of mistakes. First, during a nice drive Ben Watson fumbled the ball and he wasn’t even hit! Missed scoring opportunity. On the next drive Dan Koppen snaps the ball in shotgun formation when Cassel wasn’t ready resulting in a 23 yard loss and eventual punt. Missed scoring opportunity. Then, on another nice drive, on third and short, Jabbar Gaffney (maybe he should shorten his name to just GAFF), drops a nicely thrown pass that would have resulted in a first down. Missed scoring opportunity. There are a lot of reasons the Jets won the game, but those three plays really cost us a good chance to pull out a win. We finally scored a touchdown late in the third quarter and a two point conversion turned it into a 24-21 Jets lead. Game on!

The fourth quarter reverted back to pretty much what the first half looked like. The Patriots were able to tie the game at 24-24, but lousy kickoff coverage on a short kick gave the Jets good field position and the defense once again let the Jets march down the field on a long scoring drive that ate up the clock and left us in a 31-24 hole. And what do we do on our possession? End up taking a sack and having to the punt the ball. But miracles of miracles we stopped the Jets and Matt Cassel lead a desperation drive with no timeouts with less than two minutes to go which resulted in an amazing touchdown catch by Randy Moss. After the extra point the game was tied 31-31. OVERTIME.

I knew going into overtime that whoever won the coin toss would win the game barring a turnover. So it was a 50-50 chance. Too bad. The Jets got the toss, ran the ball down our throats, and won on a short field goal. A friend and fellow Patriots fanatic who I was watching the game with suggested we should go for a two point conversion at the end of the game to win it instead of taking the 50-50 chance on the coin toss (we both agreed whoever won the coin toss would win the game). Given the results and the way our offense was playing, I wonder. I wouldn’t have gone for the two-point conversion but what do you think:

 Other Observations about the Game

Jets Fans: My “friends” – and I’ll use that term loosely this week – who happen to be Jets fans, were unusually obnoxious leading up to this game. I guess because it has been a long time since they have had something to cheer for. I dread to hear their gloating this week and their praise of Eric “Traitor” Manweenie and Brett Farve, who has made a joke out of his career with the Packers with his actions this year.

Holding Penalty on Mike Vrabel on Jets Last Touchdown Drive: On third and short for the Jets in the fourth quarter the Patriots appeared to stop the Jets and force them to settle for a short field goal. Instead they got first and goal from point blank range. I am not suggesting bad officiating costs us the game, well maybe I am. I saw the replay several times and that was an egregiously horrible call that all but gave the Jets a touchdown instead of a field goal. That could have been the deciding factor in the game. I saw the replay several times and if that was defensive holding then the NFL should just fold and disband all the teams because you would have to call holding on almost every single short passing play. I am sick of seeing refs make such stupid bad calls in critical situations.

Matt Cassel: Matt Cassel has demonstratively improved as the season has progressed and played an excellent ball game for the most part. He did struggle with accuracy at times, especially on sideline passes. And his deep balls were way off target and that really takes away from our advantages on offense with Randy Moss in the mix. He clearly has an NFL caliber arm as his deep balls are mostly overthrown not underthrown. It’s the timing and accuracy that are off. His red zone passes are also a bit problematic and an area the team needs to improve on. Cassel still has a way to go in these areas, but overall I am very impressed with his improvement over the year. He showed a great deal of leadership in the second half and his last touchdown drive was, well, Brady like.

Game Plan: This game, unlike the Colts game, isn’t on Belichick or his coaching staff. They abandoned the running game when they got behind and had a game plan that allowed us to move the ball up and down on the field with ease for much of the game. It was the aforementioned mistakes by players that nixed us in this game.

Defense: If our defense could play like they did in the third quarter all the time we would really have something going. But for the most part they were just eaten up by the Jets offense. I don’t know if it is injuries, our weak defensive backfield, or something else, but we have to do better than we did against the Jets! Jerrod Mayo, our rookie linebacker out of Tennessee was phenomenal. I read an article that said he was overrated. That is laughable. This guy may turn out to be a dominant defense player barring injury.

Special Teams Play: Our kickoff coverage was horrible all game long and constantly gave the Jets good field position and handed them one touchdown. This late in the season I just don’t understand that. That was the one key area were we clearly lost this game. Thus I give you the MVP of the game.

MVP: Leon Washington, KR/RB, New York Jets

ONE MORE NOTE: LAST NIGHT WAS TROY BROWN NIGHT, ONE OF THE ALL TIME GREAT PATRIOTS. You can read my tribute to Troy Brown here:

https://cdbaker.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/tribute-to-troy


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15 thoughts on “2008 NFL Football Season: Week 11, Patriots Miscues Lead to Loss Against Jets

  1. Those trickery plays the Jets managed to intermittently run were pretty amusing (judging from the highlights). I wish I would have watched the game in its entirety, though, but I opted to watch my Virginia Tech Hokies be. . . be. . . be. . . um, yeah, by the Miami Hurricanes.

    I want to know if Jets fans will be harping in the same tone in January. Favre wins games, but he also gives you the same chance to lose them. Sort of reminds me of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns style of play (run n’ gun, but that style also lost you games). Not the greatest comparison by any means, but it’s functional.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Funny, being from Bristol, even though I was on the Virginia side, I wound up a Tennessee Volunteers fan. Of course when I grew up Virgina Tech didn’t have a very good football team. Now I’d say the fans are about half/half between the Vols and Va. Tech.

    As far as Farve goes you are definately right. He’s an interception machine in the playoffs. This year though he’s been forced (I presume by coaches) to tone down his gunslinger mentality. They played a pretty controlled game at the QB position. Where Farve’s abilities and gunslinger mentality come through is when the team gets down and they need scores fast, and he can pull those off too. The only thing I can hope for is the Patriot don’t wind up losing games they shouldn’t and just get to the playoffs. The way the AFC is going, it’s a wide open. Even with Tennessee being so dominant, they are beatable. I’d love to see the Jets implode. I don’t have a lot of dislike for many teams, but I loathe the Jets these days.

  3. I have a small portion of my soul that’s invested into the Vols, but maybe that’s because I was born in Johnson City. Don’t know. Just wondering: how did you develop an affinity for the Patriots? I remember when they beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI — everyone in Richlands about had a heart attack over Mike Compton.

    Gotta loathe those Jets since you’re a Pats fan. Especially when the whole handshake maneuver developed, and Mangini and Belichick started spewing hateful thoughts-turned-comments at each other, either silently or implicating them. Then the whole spygate thing. Then the rest is pretty history.

    I mean, hell, it’s fun to watch, but ESPN should be a little more lenient with media coverage in the like.

  4. Being from Johnson City I am shocked you’re not a Vols fan.

    As to how I became a Patriots fan that’s a good question. My answer will date me but here goes. I started paying attention to football in 1976 when I was 10. The NFC channel always showed either the Redskins or the Falcons and for some reason I just never cared for either team. The AFC channel tended to show AFC East games, more so Miami and New England when they were winning teams, less so the Jets or the Bills. I loved the old New England Patriots helment. Cheesy as some people think that helmet is, I still love that helment. Being 10 years old, those kind of things matter. So, I became interested in the Patriots. Also, 1976 was the year Darryl Stingley was paralzed from the neck down in the preseason after a vicious hit by Jack Tatum and I felt sorry for him. Also, I loved Steve Grogan, the Patriots QB back then. I even got a Steve Grogan jersey to wear. So from that point on, I was solidly a Patriots fan and have been ever since.

  5. Well, I was only born in Johnson City, but yet I’ve lived in Richlands my entire life. Not to mention I was raised as a Hokies fan, though I’ve always kept a lookout for UT and such.

    Ah. Speaking of Steve Grogan, my cousin had one of her kids named after him — “Jon Grogan Bordwine.”

  6. Yep, her husband is a big, big, big Patriots fan. They have three kids, and ‘Jon Grogan Bordwine’ was born in 2005. She figured that she would conform to that one wish at least, haha.

  7. Here is a comment a Jets fan sent me via e-mail that that makes some good points. He means Wilfork not Jenkins below:

    This is really great but don’t forget that TE keller dropped a pass in the end zone and Cotchery fumbled, unlike himself. also a missed opportunity to intercept by that rookie and jenkins got on him and got a sack following that.
    Good job

  8. I was a bit peeved ( to put it mildly) at that late game penalty on Vrabel, too. And as you say, like the Colts game, this is one we should have won. But we didn’t, and with Pittsburgh coming up next week, we really have to get our act together. This one was as sloppy as the game against the Chargers-the good news being we didn’t get blown out, the bad news we lost anyway. Although I have to say that Cassel to Moss touchdown with a second to go had me jumping for joy, much to the consternation of my sleeping wife.

    Still, we have to win next week. With the Fins and Jets on a roll, it’s going to be tough winning our division, and we’re going to lose out on head-to-head against Indy and maybe even Miami in the wild-card scheme. If we don’t beat the Steelers, I worry that we’ll have little chance to make the playoffs.

  9. Thanks John. Yeah, that call against Vrabel had my blood boiling. But what can you do? We really, really need to beat Miami next week, badly. I was sooooo hoping the Raiders could pull off the upset today but it just didn’t happen. But the Chargers are getting buried in the playoff race after their loss today and i have I think they are a bunch of whiners so I am glad about thtat. But we are now in the “in the hunt” category because if the playoffs were today, we wouldn’t be in them. We need to WIN! I was looking at the Patriots Web site and everyone seems to be cheery that we are playing well. Playing well and losing isn’t going to get it done this year. I just want to get in the playoffs and have a shot, even if it is a slim one, not take solace in playing well and losing. That attitude is for fans of losing teams. I am not going there.

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