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."