Carter continues to thrive in New England

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Carter continues to thrive in New England

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andre Carter has said before how happy he is to play for the Patriots. He did, again, on Sunday night.

"It's just such an honor and opportunity to play for such a great franchise. I take advantage of it every day I step onto the field."

The feeling is undoubtedly mutual.

Carter set a franchise record with 4.5 sacks in New England's 37-16 win over the Jets. Some will look at the score as Mark Sanchez's failure against a weak defense and not entirely be wrong. But to do so is to discount Carter.

Sanchez completed 20-of-29 pass attempts for 306 yards and one touchdown. Some of the poor decision-making that led to two interceptions was typical of Sanchez, but his incoherence was inspired by New England. Carter gave the quarterback hell, bringing unrelenting pressure that started early.

On the Jets' second drive of the game, Sanchez took the snap on third-and-8 at the New York 42. Carter found him and dropped him for a loss of seven yards. The quarter ended with an exclamation point when Sanchez, in shotgun on second-and-6, found himself being chased again by Carter.

Lie down, Sanchez. Eight-yard loss.

Its one of those games Ill definitely remember. Im still shocked, still soaking it in," Carter said. "But regardless, Im very happy that we just came out here and won. That was the most important thing. Like I said, we came off two tough games back-to-back and this was definitely a must-win.

Carter's nine sacks in nine games lead all Patriots and only four players in the NFL have more. It's like the 32-year old has somehow turned back the clock to his days in San Francisco. His career-best is 12.5 sacks, recorded with the 49ers in 2002. It was his second year in the league.

Nine years later, he's on pace for 16.

It's no wonder Carter is so constantly grateful. Think about where he was last season: Washington, drowning as an outside linebacker in the new 3-4 Redskins scheme. Carter's 2010 campaign, 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks in just five starts, was one of the worst of his career. To ask for a release off that kind of season, at his age, was a risk. But Carter says he knew what was best.

He knew he could thrive with his hand in the dirt; New England gave him that chance.

"I thank God for the performance, for my family for constantly driving me, and the men that I play with every day and that practice with," he said. "Those people have been such a big influence on my life.

"But regardless, I'm just happy we came out there and won. That was the most important thing in general."

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”