EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the second quarter of the Patriots’ road game against the Jets, with New England leading 13-9:
1. The Patriots might ultimately be outmanned, but they’ve come to fight. They’re relying on several role players in expanded roles – one pal texted “I don’t know who half the players are, so many new faces” – but they are showing a lot of mental toughness.
2. If they somehow pull this one off, it will go down as a 2003/2004-type outcome when we were writing about players like Earthwind Moreland, Hank Poteat and a slot cornerback named Troy Brown.
3. The defense is getting it done on third down. The Jets were 1 of 6, which highlighted the Patriots’ defensive effort. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has not been able to get into a rhythm. For the most part, the Patriots are getting to Sanchez.
4. The defense has done its part through the first 30 minutes. The Patriots need more from Tom Brady, the offensive line, and the overall offensive attack over the final 30 minutes.
5. Brady, up until the last drive of the first half, hasn't played to his usual high level.
6. That was a terrific two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter (6 plays, 80 yards, 1:11), sparked by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who continues his Pro Bowl/All-Pro caliber play. Miscues by Jets safety Eric Smith helped the cause.
7. Bill Belichick’s personnel decisions have been scrutinized, with more focus placed on the misses than hits, but this has been a night in which one of his best moves is shining under the spotlight. Defensive end Andre Carter has been one of the best players on the field.
8. Special teams units have tightened up, as they have matched the Jets, who are considered one of the NFL’s better groups.
9. For the second week in a row, the Patriots have had trouble with the center/quarterback exchange in the shotgun. Center Dan Connolly fired a snap to quarterback Tom Brady and it looked like Brady wasn’t ready. The Patriots were fortunate to recover, but on the next play, Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.
10. After winning the opening toss and deferring the choice, the Patriots get the ball to open the second half.