The New York Jets entered week 7 of the NFL season at 4-1 and went into a battle for first place in the AFC East with their long time nemesis, the New England Patriots.  And as has been the case for many of these previous battles, the New England Patriots came out on top.  This edition of the rivalry ended in a hard-fought, 30-23 win for the Patriots.

The Jets played very hard, and even took a lead into the fourth quarter, which was a lot more than most people would have thought.   The Jets came into the game anywhere from a 7.5-9 point underdog But as the old saying goes, there are no moral victories in the NFL, and if you are good enough to be in that type of battle late into the fourth, you have to find a way to win it.

The Jets made some mistakes in this game that you just can’t make if you are going to try to beat the best.  The first turnover on the first drive of the game was crucial.  Giving Tom Brady “free points” is never what you want to do.  But mainly to me, there were two plays that turned this game:

Play 1– Jets up 17-16 with a 3rd down in the red zone.  Fitzpatrick threw a great back shoulder throw to Marshall in the front of the end zone, and he dropped the ball Granted this would be a somewhat difficult catch to make, but a player of Marshall’s caliber should make it.  And more importantly if you want to beat the best, you HAVE to make the catch.  Instead the Jets settle for the field goal and take a 20-16 lead instead of a 24-16 lead.

Play 2– The ensuing Patriot drive after the Marshall drop.  3rd down and 17 for New England on their own 25, down 20-16.  The Jets aren’t able to get pressure on Brady, and they leave the middle of the field open in a poorly played zone, and Brady converts for the first down.  This continued the drive, that led to the go ahead touchdown, which was scored on yet another 3rd down and 6 from the 12.

In my eyes this game was very simple to understand and breakdown.  For the past 15 years, ever since Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe out of the game back in September of 2001, and unknown sixth round draft pick named Tom Brady walked out onto the field to replace Bledsoe the Jets have been chasing the New England Patriots.  Don’t get me wrong the Jets have had their moments against Brady and Belichick, none bigger than the 2010 AFC divisional playoff victory, but those type of wins have been few and far between in this rivalry.  And since September of 2001 the chase has been on, and at times it seems like a never-ending chase.  But for some reason, as I watch this version of the New York Jets play, it seems they are on the right path.  Maybe the gap is a touch closer than it has been in years past between them and the Patriots.  The problem has always been that New England has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the Jets do not.  I know that sounds simple, but that’s what it comes down to.  Tom Brady won that game yesterday with nothing around him, 11 passes dropped and absolutely no running game to speak of.  That is why he is the best, and that is why it has been a 15 year chase.

As I have come to realize and have said many times though, you are going to have to beat the New England Patriots if you are ever going to be the champion.  And the best quote I have come up with, that I say to my friends and family over and over, “You’re going to have to win at Foxboro to go to the Super Bowl, might as well wait until January to do it.”  I hope we get to see it.  On to Oakland.

– Rob DiToma