This article was originally posted on JetsReport.com.
When the Jets beat the Patriots in Week 2, it was a huge victory at the time for Gang Green.
They were coming off an embarrassing 10-9 Week 1 loss, and had a virtual must-win against New England. No one in the Jets organization would’ve liked starting 0-2 coming off of Hard Knocks with all the hype surrounding the team.
That’s why it was a huge win when they were able to score 21 unanswered points and hold the Patriots scoreless in the second half in a 28-14 comeback victory for their first win of the season.
Mark Sanchez threw a career-high three touchdown passes, a two-point conversion and no interceptions against the young Patriots secondary, silencing the naysayers who overreacted to his poor season debut a week earlier.
One of the memorable things about that game was Darrelle Revis going down with a hamstring injury shortly before halftime. Revis was injured trying to cover Randy Moss streaking down the field after a quick-snap by Tom Brady, leading to Moss’s final catch of the day and final highlight as a Patriot, a one-handed touchdown reception.
Eleven weeks later, the two teams meet again this upcoming Monday night in Foxboro, as the Patriots look for revenge against the Jets on their home field.
It’s going to be a battle of an unstoppable force and an immovable object. The Patriots have won their last 25 regular season home games that Tom Brady has played in, dating back to 2006, while the Jets have been road warriors ever since Rex Ryan came to town.
The Jets are a league-best 5-0 on the road in 2010, and have won their last eight regular season road games and 10 of their last 11 including playoffs dating back to last season.
The Patriots last home loss with Brady was to the Jets. The Jets last regular season road loss was to the Patriots.
Get the picture?
A lot has changed from their last meeting 11 weeks ago. Both teams have new players that will make their debut in this rivalry this week after being non-factors in the first meeting.
The most polarizing figure in the building is Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, the ex-Jet who starred on Hard Knocks in August before being cut in September and latching on with the Patriots shortly after.
The 5’7" Woodhead has been a fantastic weapon for New England following the season-ending injury to Kevin Faulk.
“He’s been great for them—really fits their system,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said of Woodhead. “It’s amazing. Kevin Faulk—he’s done a great job in that role, running the ball with them. I’ve got a ton of respect for Danny Woodhead. I always thought he’s a terrific player.”
Woodhead is averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 64 rushing attempts for 344 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also got 24 catches for 230 yards and a receiving touchdown. He’s accounted for 25 first downs, and is a key part of the Patriots’ third-down offense. Woodhead splits carries with power back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a man aptly nicknamed the Law Firm.
As far as their passing game goes, Randy Moss is gone and replacing him is long-time Patriot Deion Branch, a former Super Bowl MVP receiver.
“They’ve been running the ball a little more,” Ryan said. “Before, everybody would have to play cover-two. You have to roll up to Randy Moss’ side. I think they realized with us that wasn’t the case anymore, that we could actually single Moss, whether that was with Cromartie or Revis. Some of the benefit that they would get with having a Randy Moss, they kind of lose against us anyway. Whether that was one of the factors going into it; why they traded Randy Moss, I’m not sure, but they are doing some different things.”
“They’re still making some big plays in the passing game,” he noted, “but it’s more of a vertical passing game to the inside receivers, a lot of underneath stuff even with the outside receivers. It’s changed a little bit. Again, it’s going to come down to getting after it, and we’ll see what happens.”
Rather than running the offense through the mercurial Moss, the Patriots’ most dangerous pass-catching threats are their two rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. It wouldn’t shock me to see Darrelle Revis and/or Antonio Cromartie matched up with one or both of these guys at times on Monday, but I also expect Wes Welker to see a lot of action on Revis Island.
The Patriots also have left guard Logan Mankins back after he held out for a few weeks trying to get a contract extension. New England has him back in the fold now to solidify that offensive line and create running room for Woodhead and Green-Ellis.
But they’re not the only team that’s changed since their last meeting with the Jets.
The Patriots have not yet seen Santonio Holmes in green and white. The Jets have their own Super Bowl MVP wide receiver to throw into the mix, and Holmes has given the Jets a dynamic duo on the outside, paired up with Braylon Edwards, who had a big game in that Week 2 matchup.
Edwards, Holmes, Dustin Keller and the returning Jerricho Cotchery will try to take advantage of a porous Patriots secondary that has allowed the most passing yards per game in the NFL.
The Jets will also have a healthy Darrelle Revis to play the full game this time, and linebacker Calvin Pace is healthy after missing the Week 2 matchup with a broken foot. Defensive tackle Trevor Pryce joined the team midseason and had a big game against the Bengals last week.
“I know I feel confident with that football team. I know everybody in our locker room believes we’ll win,” Ryan said. “We know what New England represents, how good a football team they are, how well-coached they are, all that kind of stuff. But again, as much as we respect them, we also think we can beat them. I think we proved that this year.”