FOXBORO – The New England Patriots didn’t allow an offensive touchdown while beating the New York Jets last month. But New York didn’t have Sam Darnold at the time, so New England isn’t taking the Jets lightly when the two AFC East teams meet again on Monday night in New Jersey.
The Patriots (6-0) will be looking to defeat New York for the eighth consecutive time and are largely dismissing the Week 3 victory in which they held a Jets’ squad quarterbacked by since-released Luke Falk to 105 total yards in a 30-14 triumph.
New York (1-4) finally recorded a victory on Sunday when it beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 as Darnold, back from a bout with mononucleosis, passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s a good quarterback,” New England coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call. “We saw him at the end of the year last year. He can make all the throws. Big, strong kid. He can run. Short, intermediate, deep. He’s got good weapons.”
Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, isn’t ready to proclaim that the Jets have turned the corner even though they scored more points against the Cowboys than in the three games (23) he missed.
“I think, for us, we have to continue to work out the details,” Darnold told reporters. “Obviously, we got the win, which was awesome. Our defense played great, we (the offense) played good at times, but there are a lot of things we can clean up.
“I think we left a lot of points on the field. We just have to clean up the details and get back to work.”
Part of the challenge for the Jets will be moving the ball against the New England defense. The Patriots lead the NFL in scoring defense (8.0 points per game) and total defense (234.7).
New England limited Le’Veon Bell to 35 yards on 18 carries in the first meeting, when the Jets had just six first downs. New York was 0-for-12 on third-down conversations and also failed to convert a fourth-down attempt.
So while the Patriots are tipping their hats to Darnold as a difference-maker, the players also feel you can’t take a division foe lightly. Especially when the contest is a prime-time affair.
“It’s a division rivalry game, ‘Monday Night Football.’ Everybody’s tuned in watching you,” running back James White said. “They’ll be fired up; we’ll be fired up. We beat them once, so they’re going to come out ready to play. So we better come out ready to play from the start of the game to the end of it.”
On the other hand, the Patriots lead the NFL in scoring offense (31.7) and have recorded five victories by 16 or more points.
Veteran quarterback Tom Brady has been his typical solid self with 1,743 yards and 10 touchdowns while being intercepted three times.
While Josh Gordon (knee, ankle) might not be available, fellow receiver Julian Edelman has been a force with 38 receptions for 449 yards and two touchdowns.
Demaryius Thomas was part of that wideout mix earlier this season before being traded to the Jets on Sept. 11. The four-time Pro Bowler raised a ruckus this week by referring to his short stint with New England as a waste of time and said the team was disrespectful to him by cutting him, re-signing him and then trading him.
“It was insulting, for sure,” Thomas told the New York Daily News. “Once I got cut, I could have just come here (to the Jets) and not stayed there and re-sign. When they re-signed me, I was thinking that I was good. Two weeks later, I was gone. So it’s like, ‘Why did I waste my time?’ Because at the end of the day, it was kind of a waste of time for me.”
New York could have linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) on the field for the first time since he was injured during a season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8. Mosley insisted to reporters that he will play, although the team has yet to make such a declaration.
–Field Level Media