New England Patriots  

 

Tom Brady, Patriots reinforce superiority by outlasting N.Y. Jets

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- What sets the Patriots apart are theories and execution.

While opponent after opponent tries to figure out who they need to be or what to do to defeat New England, the Patriots simply beat their foes. Sure, strategy, scheming, planning and all that factors in for New England.

Yet, at their most basic points, the Patriots complete passes, pressure the quarterback and do everything other teams want and try to do to them.

Against a very good Todd Bowles-coached Jets team, with the Patriots boasting just two healthy running backs and backup personnel across their battered offensive line, Tom Brady operated efficiently from the pocket, Danny Amendola delivered a standout performance and the defense stopped the Jets from doing what they do best -- running the ball.

Result: Patriots 30, Jets 23.

New England moved to 6-0, while New York dropped to 4-2. Now, a surging Miami team (3-3), which on Sunday might have put its second coach on the Green Mile to unemployment -- this time not its own, but Houston's Bill O'Brien -- will theorize how to beat the Patriots on Thursday in Foxborough.

"We've lost two division games. We really needed this week," Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said after his team mopped up the woeful Texans 44-26. "We're capable of beating [New England]."

Miami is capable. So were the Jets. So are the Bills. So are a lot of other teams.

They have to do more than theorize, though. Teams have to execute better than New England. Week after week, it doesn't happen. Some team might beat the Patriots, and in all likelihood, more than one will.

When it matters most, though, can they pull it off?

For more than three quarters, the Jets went toe-to-toe with the Patriots -- physically, mentally, execution-wise. Then, New England scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns while New York kicked two field goals in the final period. The Jets made it interesting but didn't show the poise the Patriots did.

And that was that.

Every game, all season

There's nothing to indicate that's how things will play out over the course of the season and through the playoffs. Really, is there another team in the AFC that does what the Patriots do? Cincinnati looks legit, but that whole one-and-done in the playoff thing. ... Denver? Pittsburgh?

New York entered the game with the NFL's top defense and the league's top rushing attack.

Both were checkmated by the diminished Patriots, who didn't play a great game, but instead made no excuses for why it would be OK to lose.

The Jets' fantastic defensive front was neutralized fairly early when the Patriots went to a spread offense, and Brady started tossing the ball to whomever got open -- and that wasn't easy, with Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and crew rarely yielding.

However, Brady wasn't under a ton of pressure, and that allowed Amendola to come up with timely plays. And when New York took its eye off tight end Rob Gronkowski to pay even glancing attention to Amendola or Julian Edelman, Brady found his tight end, who finished with 11 catches for 108 yards and one touchdown (which was the decisive score).

Oh, and the two healthy running backs? LeGarrette Blount and James White really weren't needed. Brady threw the ball 54 times, completing 34 for 355 yards. He also led New England in rushing -- for the first time in his career -- with 15 yards and a touchdown run.

Before New England knocked off the Jets, New York offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said his team had to be perfect, for the most part -- no penalties or mental blunders and no minor slip-ups. It's a theory just about every team takes into a game against the Patriots.

"We have to make sure we don't make mistakes," Ferguson said Friday. "New England is very good at waiting for an opponent to break. If they turn the ball over or miss an assignment, they strike. They stay consistent with that. Every game. Every year."

New York is a solid team that isn't going away. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is making throws and plays he has been very reluctant to make in the past. The Jets host the Pats in Week 16, and they'll feel they owe New England for snatching this victory from them.

Miami might feel the same in the regular-season finale, when the Patriots come to town. Then again, it could be New England wanting to exact revenge. The Dolphins have become very intriguing since sacking Joe Philbin and putting Dan Campbell in charge.

Buffalo is 3-4 in the increasingly competitive AFC East, but they've become far less of a factor on the field than they've become off of it.

Back to New England's next opponent, the Dolphins. Although they've waxed two bad teams from the bad AFC South since Campbell was inserted, the Dolphins are playing with salsa in their shorts. They're acting like they want to be a part of something special.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is rolling, and wide receiver Jarvis Landry has become arguably the most dangerous and fun player to watch in the NFL. And the defense has woken up.

They're hot, and they have a shot Thursday in New England.

In theory.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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