by Scott Benson
The Patriots began life without Tom Brady tonight with a hard fought 19-10 upset win over the division rival Jets at the Meadowlands.
Matt Cassel wasn’t great but he was good enough to lead the Pats on five scoring drives, featuring four Stephen Gostkowski field goals. Gostkowski’s fourth three-pointer, coming at the conclusion of a five minute, seventy yard drive, iced the game with five minutes remaining. Cassel relied on quick drops and short throws, using the Pats screen game to great effect. Kevin Faulk returned from suspension to, as usual, make all the critical plays. Wes Welker added seven catch and runs to lead the Pats.
But the Pats still left points on the field – like Cassel’s underthrow on a fourth quarter bomb to a wide open Randy Moss, which would have finished the Jets with nine minutes on the clock. Still, Cassel minimized his mistakes (no turnovers) and played well enough – on the road – to beat the team that was to be the new power in the AFC East.
Brett Favre moved the Jets at times but was never able to score on the Pats defense, who came up with a big league effort in response to the loss of Brady. Brandon Meriweather’s 3rd quarter interception set up New England’s only touchdown, a Sammy Morris leap that put them up 13-3. New York’s only touchdown came at the ten minute mark in the fourth, when they were already two scores down.
A terrific team win by the Patriots (special teams created an enormous field position advantage, thanks to Gostkowski’s booming kickoffs) and reason to believe that, for now, the Patriots can still contend for the division without their best player.
As usual, Chris Warner will have the full story tomorrow morning. Please tune in then.