Curran: Five thoughts from Jets 28, Patriots 21

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Curran: Five thoughts from Jets 28, Patriots 21

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

The Toe Sucker is headed back to his second straight AFC Championship game. So is the tirelessly classy LaDainian Tomlinson, Sanchise, Bart Scott and Fireman F&& Ed. It is every bit the gut punch to Patriots fans you figured it would be. This Patriots' season that was a crossbreed of 2001 and 2007 ends instead like 2009. Snuffed. Out. A little look at five of the key occurrences from Sunday. 1. THIS TAKES THE FAKEThe fake punt with 1:14 left in the first half and the Patriots on their own 38 facing fourth-and-4? Patrick Chung called for it. Punter Zoltan Mesko told NESN's Jeff Howe. "We trust the decision Patrick makes. It just didnt work out in that particular occasion. Thats why the coaches trust him to run it, and that's why they give him the green light, if he has it." Chung had the snap ricochet off his leg and onto the ground. He picked it up and picked up. Zero yards. Four plays later the Jets were in the end zone with a 14-3 lead. Bill Belichick wouldn't reveal the particulars of the call after the game saying only, "We just made a bad mistake." Kinda.Even if everything aligned itself perfectly for Chung to make the call, the field position and time remaining made it a massive risk. A stupid risk. If he converted, the Patriots were still 55 or so yards from the Jets goal line with 1:10 left.I asked Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Fergusonwhat thePatriots decision to run that play told him. "I don't know what it told me. I'm just happy they did it."2. LACK OF URGENCYAfter the Jets went up 21-11 on a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 13 minutes left, the Patriots embarked on a 15-play, 7:41 second drive that yielded. Nothing. The glacial pace of that drive - one on which the play clock routinely dwindled into single digits - seemed to fly in the face of the urgency required at that moment. "I felt like the operation was the operation," said left tackle Matt Light. "I didnt realize that being anything much different than what weve done in the past. You still have to communicate, do what you do... and in a mode like that where its pretty much desperation, its all about getting your best plays out there and hopefully let the situation run itself." The situation ran itself aground when a pass behind Deion Branch that would have been good for a first down sailed through the receiver's hands. The Jets went three-and-out butwhen the Pats took over they were still down 10 with 3:19 remaining. Asked about the slow pace and frequent running playsBill Belichick said, "It was a two-score game. We're trying to get the ball down and get it in position. They were playing a lot of DB pass coverages and ... we thought we had some good opportunities to run it. Some worked out and some we could have handled better."3. WIDE RECEIVERS ON THE OUTSYou could tell the Patriots were laboring toget the ball to their playmakersby the number of wide receiver targets and catches in the first half. Four passes were thrown to wideouts (2 each to Wes Welker andDeion Branch) one was completed (a 10-yarder to Welker). In the second half, Tom Brady threw 17 passes tohis wideouts but the results were relatively meager. Welker wound up with seven receptions for 57 yards and Branch had five catches (on a team-high 10 targets) for 59 yards. "Tommakes his decisions where he throws the ball," said Branch. "There were times when we were covered, there were times when we were open and didn't get the ball. But you never know what it was. I can't sit back and say, 'This is what happened on this play or that play.' That's his job and he'sdoing his best." Brady seemed to labor to find someone openenough to pull the triggerto for long stretches. And when he did find someone toward the end of plays, harried throws were skipping in off target or floating to spots unoccupied. Brady finished 29 for 45 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and a pick but this was not his finest hour. At all. Said Jets' corner Antonio Cromartie, "That was the whole point of the entire week. ... make sure we got our hands on them and were physical with the huys. When we play our game on the outsides, it makes things very difficult for the quarterback with the timing routes and things that he does."4.LIGHT'S OUTMatt Light is one of several players whose contract is up.Askedwhat he foresees, Light said, "It is what it is and this game...I've had a great 10 years here, man. This has been a great organzation and a great place to come play. I hope like hell to be here and continue to do what I've done but we'll just have to see how that works itself out." Fred Taylor, Jarrad Page, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, Gerard Warren, Quinn Ojinnaka and the big one, Logan Mankins, all have expiring contracts as well. So that will be the Patriots' next order of business along with preparing for the draft.5. JETS ON TO...PITTSBURGHAntonio Cromartie's feelings about Tom Brady were well documented during the week. He didn't hold forth on them further Sunday night. He did however say, when asked about Ben Roethlisberger, "I love Ben. Ben's a competitor, man." Meanwhile, Rex Ryan was more than happy to hold forth on the next Jets' challenge. "They are a great football team. The only way you're going to get to the Super Bowl is you've got to be playing some great teams to get through there."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran