Four from the first half


Four from the first half

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey - When you least expect it, expect it. Or that which you can expect least should be expected. Or sometimes things happen you weren't ready for. And the Patriots are doing something not expected. Undermanned on defense, they've unloaded a nastier pass rush on the Jets than we've seen all season. On offense, they look shaky despite the 13-9 halftime edge. Here's your Four. OCHOCINCO GOES OFFChad Ochocinco caught two passes in the first quarter. The first came on a nice route where he turned Antonio Cromartie inside out. Ocho caught the ball on the right sideline with plenty of room to roam and . . . stepped out of bounds. 12-yard gain. On the next Patriots' drive, a coverage miscue by the Jets led to Ocho running alone down the numbers. Brady found him and Ocho reversed field, albeit at a breathtakingly slow rate of speed. A gain of 53. His two catches set up field goals. STAGNANT PATS OFFENSETom Brady continues to look mortal. He finished the first half 12 for 22 for 194 yards but he had some heinous misses and looked indecisive at times. The Patriots took a safety when Jamaal Westerman bulldozed Sebastian Vollmer and Danny Woodhead and forced Brady into an intentional grounding. That happened after a snap by Dan Connolly went back to Brady before he was ready. Word is that Patriots tackle Matt Light lost it after that drive, complaining that the OL was getting its line calls too late and not getting set. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said he wasn't getting the booth calls quickly enough (likely personnel). Tight ends coach Brian Ferentz was seen running to the elevator after the safety. Coincidence or not, the Patriots offense ran smoother after that. Perhaps he was involved, perhaps not. CARTER AND ANDERSON TICKETMark Anderson and Andre Carter have made a bigger impact coming off the edge in the rush game than at any time all season. Carter has two sacks and forced an intentional grounding. Mark Sanchez is playing like the 09 version. It's bad over there. The Patriots also seem to be taking more blitz chances which is a good idea since they are so banged up in the secondary they can't afford to have too long to cover. SO LONG DEVINPatriots corner Devin McCourty got his shoulder dinged good when Sterling Moore sailed in on a pass intended for Plaxico Burress and buried his shoulder in the shoulder of McCourty. The Patriots Pro Bowler then joined Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. The defensive performance without McCourty was surprisingly efficient.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable


Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:


WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)


TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)