The defense did put out a strong effort, even if nobody stood out statistically. They only recorded one sack, but did get pressure up the middle on Tom Brady at times. They also held Stevan Ridley to under 70 yards rushing, and personally under 4 yards per carry. They weren’t spectacular, but did enough as a group to keep the Jets in the football game.
These guys didn’t play terribly either, but they get a lower grade due to the performance of the New England tight ends. These guys needed to bump the tight ends off their pass routes, but didn’t do a good enough job of it. Bart Scott and Calvin Pace looked as slow as ever at times, and allowing 11 catches for 132 yards and 2 TDs to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez is just not going to cut it. Whether it is the young guys, or the veterans, they have to be physical against a team like that, and they didn’t do a good enough job. Again, the team was in the game, so they do get some credit, but less due to the play of the tight ends.
This group gets an average grade as well, but slightly better than the linebackers due to the play on the outside receivers. Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd combined for 2 catches for 15 yards, which is a credit to the coverage on the outside. Other than Wes Welker, the Patriots’ wide receivers did nothing all game long. The grade goes down, however, due to the play of the Patriots’ tight ends as well. Despite the fact that LaRon Landry contributed 12 tackles, they weren’t physical enough over the middle to make the difference that was necessary.
Nick Folk was clutch with the field goal, and Joe McKnight played as gutty of a football game as you will ever see, averaging 29 yards per kickoff return, with a high ankle sprain. The grade comes down because of that kickoff return. All they had to do was tackle Devin McCourty, and the momentum stays on the Jets side, but they couldn’t do it. That was too big a play to overlook.