Carter sets franchise record with 4.5 sacks

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Andre Carter and Mark Anderson (95) celebrate during Sunday's win over the Jets.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In a way, he is the anti-Haynesworth. Oh sure, Andre Carter and Albert Haynesworth pretty much arrived together in New England this summer, both set free by the Washington Redskins. But it was Haynesworth who drew all the headlines, while Carter was merely a supplemental part of a beefed up defensive line.

While Haynesworth’s time in New England ended with a thud this past week when he was released after eight underachieving weeks, Carter only cemented himself as the Patriots best defensive player of the 2011 season.

On Sunday night, Carter set a franchise record in registering 4.5 sacks to highlight the Patriots’ dominant defensive effort in a 37-16 thrashing of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s one of those games that you’ll definitely remember,” said Carter. “I’m still shocked, still soaking it in. But regardless, I’m very happy that we just came out here and won. That was the most important thing. Like I said, we came off two tough [losses] back-tp-back and this was a must-win.”

You could forgive Mark Sanchez if he was looking over his shoulder at the postgame podium in fear that Carter might come looking for another sack. He hit Sanchez early and often Sunday, setting the tone for New England's defense.

Carter dropped Sanchez for a 7-yard loss to force a punt midway through the first quarter, then got to the quarterback again for an 8-yard loss on the final play of the frame.

After splitting a sack with Mark Anderson in the second frame, Carter capped his sackapalooza on back-to-back plays on the fourth quarter.

Carter doubled his season sack total, giving him nine of the season. Suddenly, the 32-year-old Carter is creeping up on his career-high 12.5 sacks set his second year in the league, and making everyone forget about Haynesworth.

The defense finished with five sacks overall, but put constant pressure on Sanchez.

“Andre, he’s a great leader,” said Anderson. “We all feed off each other, that’s what we did tonight. Everybody executed the game plan. It was a hell of a performance.”

Defensive line coach Pepper Johnson would agree. After Carter capped his impressive night, the fiery assistant gave Carter the familiar bicep-to-bicep celebration that the players often celebrate with. And as quarterback Tom Brady stepped down from the interview podium after Sunday's game, he paused to shake hands with Carter and praise his effort.

"It's such an honor and opportunity to play for such a great franchise," said Carter. "And I take advantage of that ever time I step onto the field."

That's something Haynesworth never did here.