November 22, 2012

Jets face a crash and burn scenario

At 4-6, a loss to the Pats would all but eliminate New York from playoff possibilities.

By J.P. Pelzman,The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - LaRon Landry was asked Tuesday whether the Jets were in a must-win mentality for Thursday night's crucial game against visiting New England.

PATRIOTS (7-3) at JETS (4-6)

WHEN: 8:20 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TELEVISION: NBC

SERIES RECORD: Patriots lead 54-52-1

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Jets 29-26 OT, Oct. 21

LAST WEEK: Patriots beat Colts 59-24; Jets beat Rams 27-13

PATRIOTS OFFENSE: Overall -- 1, rush -- 5, pass -- 4

PATRIOTS DEFENSE: Overall -- 28, rush -- 10, pass -- 30

JETS OFFENSE: Overall -- 29, rush -- 15, pass -- 29

JETS DEFENSE: Overall -- 14, rush -- 30, pass -- 4

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Patriots playing on Thanksgiving for fifth time, going 2-2 in previous appearances. Jets playing on holiday for second time in three years and are 1-3 on Thanksgiving -- but were 3-0 from 1960-62 as New York Titans of AFL. ... In last meeting, Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich forced and recovered fumble by Jets QB Mark Sanchez to seal OT victory. ... Bill Belichick needs one victory to become eighth NFL coach to record 200 wins. ... QB Tom Brady 17-5 overall vs. New York, including New England's playoff loss in 2010 postseason. ... Brady needs one TD pass to extend streak with at least one to 43 straight games - third-longest behind Drew Brees (53 and counting) and Johnny Unitas (47). He has 51 career 300-yard passing games in regular season, and one more would put him into tie for fifth place with Kurt Warner. Needs 86 yards passing to move past Dan Fouts (43,040) for 10th place on NFL's career list. ... WR Wes Welker has caught at least one pass in 104 straight regular-season games, including franchise-record 87 in row with Patriots. Needs one 10-reception game to break tie with Marvin Harrison and Andre Johnson and match Jerry Rice for the most in NFL history with 17. ... K Stephen Gostkowski has two FGs of 50 or more yards this season, and needs one more to tie Adam Vinatieri's Patriots career mark with eight. ... Jets snapped three-game skid Sunday, putting them 4-6 for first time since 2009 -- when they went on late run to AFC title game. ... Sanchez broke out of slump with efficient performance vs. Rams, going 15 of 20 for 178 yards and a TD - and no turnovers. ... Since top WR Santonio Holmes was lost for season in Week 4, Jeremy Kerley leads Jets with 30 catches and 13.1 yards per catch. ... Backup QB Tim Tebow has been used only in limited role this season, seeing just three snaps on offense last week. ... Backup RB Bilal Powell, back from concussion, ran for first two TDs of two-year career in win vs. Rams. ... Since joining Jets in 2010, CB Antonio Cromartie has 10 INTs, tying him for second-most in AFC with Bengals' Jason Allen -- two behind Patriots' Devin McCourty.

-- The Associated Press

The hard-hitting safety looked at the questioner as if he were sizing up a wide receiver daring to cross the middle against him.

"For me, it's been like this since week one," Landry said.

Well, OK then. Still, an occasion such as this one should be enough for Landry to raise his ever-present intensity to an even higher level of focus.

There's no avoiding the fact that this game could be remembered as the most important one of the Jets' 2012 season. If they win, another magical run to the playoffs, similar to the one they executed in 2009, is very possible. In fact, some might consider it almost likely, considering after Thursday night, the Jets will not face a team that currently has a winning record.

Four of those teams are 4-6, the same as the Jets, and the other, Jacksonville, is 1-9.

The flip side is that a loss to New England would give the Jets a 4-7 record and put them in desperate shape for a playoff run. Even running the table against those faltering opponents might not be enough to salvage their season.

The Jets won five of their last six games in 2009 to qualify as a wild card, then reached the AFC title game. Sixth-year defensive end Mike DeVito was a key player on that squad, and he sees the same attitude now that he did then.

"You can see it in this locker room," DeVito said. "Guys are confident. There's nothing but confidence in here. We've been through a lot of different situations before. We do well (dealing) with adversity."

A national television audience, many of whom may have just pushed away from their Thanksgiving tables, will judge for themselves whether this Jets team has a miracle comeback in them.

DeVito said the day adds to the excitement.

"I love it. I love it," he said of playing on Thanksgiving. "There's not a better day to play. It's a really fun thing."

But for DeVito and the rest of the players on the Jets' defense, the amount of Thanksgiving fun they have won't be measured in how quickly they can ditch that conversation with an annoying relative, but whether they can disrupt the communication between New England quarterback Tom Brady and his receiving corps. That unit will not include talented and punishing tight end Rob Gronkowski, out with a fractured forearm.

Still, although Coach Rex Ryan said he certainly wasn't sad Gronkowski will miss this game, he knows No. 12 still is the key to the Pats' offense, as he has been for over a decade.

"When you look at him, you can almost say he's a machine back there," Ryan said, but quickly added there's much more to Brady. "The thing about him is he's a machine, yet he's passionate and a fiery leader and all that type of stuff, so you wish he was just a machine. His competitive side elevates his team as well. That's what you get in those once-in-a-generation-type quarterbacks, that he's just a special guy."

The Jets' defenders "just have to be sound in coverage and try to disguise well and execute," Landry said. "He's going to be Brady. He's going to complete passes and he's going to be great out there."

"I think the biggest thing for us," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said, "is trying to make sure every single guy (on defense) is on the same page."

Or else Brady and the Patriots may put an end to the Jets' 2012 comeback narrative.

 

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