New England Patriots fans held their breath as someone besides reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady started under center for the first time since September 30th, 2001. Cassel managed to best Brady’s debut passer rating by ten points. Matched up against the Colts in ’01, Brady hit 12-23 for 168 yards and no tds/ints with a passer rating of 79.6. On Sunday, Cassel eclipsed that by making 16 of 23 passes for 165 yards with no tds/ints for a rating of 89.9. Cassel effectively managed the Patriot offense, balancing a lighter-than-usual passing game with an effective running attack.
After the Jets turned an opening drive into a missed field goal, the Pats marched 76 yards down the field to get on the board first with a Stephen Gostowski FG.
Of the 9 times the Pats had the ball, they scored 5 (4 FG, 1 Sammy Morris rushing TD) and were within field goal range while running the clock out on their final drive. The Patriot defense showed up big, keeping the Jets out of the end zone in their only trip into the red zone in the first half. New England stuffed the run three times in a row and held the Jets to a field goal.
The Jets threatened in the 4th quarter, putting together a 80-yard touchdown drive to get within 6 points. The Pats fired right back with a clock-killing 70-yard drive that ended in another field goal, making it a 2-posession game. The Jets couldn’t make anything out of their next drive, and the Pats held on to notch their 21st consecutive regular season win.
Next week the Pats host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. 1:00pm kickoff on CBS/WBZ 4, and WBCN 104.1 FM.