Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Deeper Look into the Jets-Patriots Rivalry: 2000-Present

New Jets head coach Al Groh led the Jets to a sweep of the Patriots in 2000, the last time the Jets have accomplished this feat. After being 9-4, the Jets collapsed to 9-7 and finished 3rd in the AFC East, while the Patriots finished 5-11 in Belichick’s first season as head coach. The next season, Herm Edwards replaced Groh as the Jets’ head coach. In their first matchup of the season, Jets’ linebacker Mo Lewis gave quarterback Drew Bledsoe a hard blow to the chest, knocking him out of the game. This would end up being one of the worst things to happen to the NFL in the 2000s. Backup quarterback Tom Brady would enter the game for the Patriots, who would lose this game to the Jets. Brady and the Pats would catch fire after this game and finish the season 11-5 on a 6-game winning streak, which would continue into the playoffs and end with a Patriots Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams. In the 2002 season, new Jets quarterback Chad Pennington would lead the Jets to an 8-7 record going into a week 17 matchup with the Green Bay Packers. At the time, the Dolphins were 9-6 and held a 1 game lead in the AFC East, but did not have the tiebreaker over the Jets and Patriots, who were also 8-7. The Jets had the tiebreaker over both teams, who happen to be playing each other in week 17. The Patriots would defeat the Dolphins in overtime, while the Jets would crush Brett Favre and the Packers 42-17 to win the AFC East. The Jets would win their AFC Wildcard matchup against Peyton Manning and the Colts, 41-0, but would be defeated by the eventual AFC Champion, Oakland Raiders. After splitting the 2002 season series, the Patriots would win their next 7 games against the Jets and would win the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls. Jets head coach Eric Mangini would lead the Jets to a victory on November 12, 2006, in New England. The Patriots would go on to beat the Jets in the playoffs that year, 37-16.

In week 1 of the 2007 season, the Patriots would beat the Jets in Giants Stadium by a score of 38-14. After the game, Eric Mangini accused Bill Belichick and his staff of illegally videotaping the Jets defensive signals from an on-field location, which Belichick admitted to two days later (Spygate 2.0). Belichick was fined $500,000 by the league, the Patriots franchise was fined $250,000, and the Patriots were forced to forfeit their 1st round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Pats would finish the regular season 16-0, only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

The Jets signed future Hall Of Fame quarterback Brett Favre before the 2008 season and had to cut Chad Pennington to make room for him. In the first game of the 2008 season, Tom Brady would tear his ACL against the Kansas City Chiefs and be placed on IR. Matt Cassel would hold the Pats victory against the Chiefs that week and would then defeat the Jets in week 2, 19-10. Brett Favre would lead the Jets to a 6-3 record going into a Thursday night rematch in New England. The Jets would have a 24-6 lead at one point in the 2nd quarter, but would end up blowing a lead in the last few seconds of regulation. The Jets would win 34-31 on a Jay Feely field goal in overtime. The Jets would beat the undefeated Titans the next week to improve to an 8-3 record, but would lose 4 of their last 5 games and fall short of the postseason. This led to the firing of head coach Eric Mangini. The Patriots would manage to finish the season 11-5 behind Matt Cassel, but would lose the division title by a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins and would fall short of a wildcard spot to the 11-5 Ravens and the 12-4 Colts.

Before the 2009 season, the Jets would hire Rex Ryan as their new head coach. Ryan promised to bring a new attitude to the New York Jets and start a new era for the team. The Jets traded up in the 2009 NFL Draft to pick quarterback Mark Sanchez out of Southern California with the 5th overall pick. Under Sanchez and Ryan, the Jets started the season 3-0, including a victory over the Patriots in week 2, 16-9. The Jets defense was resurged under Rex Ryan’s lead and held Brady and the Patriots to 0 touchdowns. We all know how this season would turn out. Sanchez had his struggles and his flashes of brilliance. The Jets would back into a wildcard spot after beating the previously undefeated Indianapolis Colts in week 16 after Peyton Manning and many starters were benched and the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 17 to finish 9-7. The Patriots won the AFC East with a 10-6 record. The Jets would win their first two games in the postseason over the Bengals and Chargers, making Mark Sanchez the second rookie quarterback in two years to lead his team to the AFC Championship. The Patriots were knocked off at home by the Ravens in the AFC Wildcard round. The Jets would lose their halftime lead over the Colts in the AFC Championship, and their impressive run would end that day.

And here we are in the 2010 season. The Jets and Patriots are both 9-2 and are tied atop the AFC East. The Jets won the first matchup in week 2 by a score of 28-14 after the Jets outscored the Pats 18-0 in the second half. Mark Sanchez outplayed Tom Brady with his 3 touchdowns and no interceptions to Brady’s 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. The Jets and Patriots will face each other tomorrow night in what could end up deciding the AFC East. Check back tomorrow for my preview of the game. 

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