Curran: Uncharacteristic ending for the Pats

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Curran: Uncharacteristic ending for the Pats

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO Jack Brady didnt care his father Toms season had just ended. He didnt care what Antonio Cromartie called his Dad just four days earlier.

What mattered to Jack was the huge green truck with the airplanes on the side that had a huge thing going up in the air.

Daddy, look! Jack exclaimed, pointing at the huge hydraulic lift loaded with Jets equipment rising up to the back of the 18-wheeler. Do you see that?!

Tom Brady saw it. But he didnt share the same enthusiasm.

Tom Brady had seen all he needed to of the Jets on this Sunday their linebackers, their blitzes, their corners, their interceptions, their round and proud coach. He likely wishes he could have seen it all through Jacks innocent eyes instead of his own.

Because at that particular moment, Bradys eyes were moist and red. Hed just spent time with his head on the shoulder of Wes Welker, two tough teammates sharing a good cry while a cadre of close friends and relatives looked at the floor and scuffled their feet.

It wasnt what anyone expected to see by 8 p.m. on this particular Sunday. The presumed 2010 MVP crying on the shoulder of his 5-foot-8 receiver. But few things happened Sunday that anyone expected.

Not the pick Brady threw into the arms of Jets linebacker David Harris on the Patriots' first drive. Not only had it been 339 attempts since Brady threw it to the wrong team, it was the kind of dunderheaded, unanticipatory throw that lesser quarterbacks make. And so ended a drive that until that point felt like a continuation of the Patriots 45-3 dismantling of the Jets in Week 13.

That was the first uh-oh.

The second came when Alge Crumpler dropped a certain touchdown pass on the Patriots' second drive. The Patriots settled for three. Points off the board on their first two drives? And poor plays made by guys whove been in the league 20 seasons combined?

And so it went from there. A third-and-6 play from the Patriots 45 on which Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was flushed from the pocket turned into a 37-yard completion. And an LT touchdown two plays later.

A strange replay challenge on a third-down pass to Santonio Holmes at midfield when there was no clear shot making it seem Holmes dropped it (he didnt).

Punt protector Patrick Chung calling for a fake punt with 1:14 left in the half and the ball on the Patriots 38. Then dropping the snap. And a Jets touchdown four plays later.

An out-of-sync offense. A defense that for once was only able to watch big plays not make them.

What. The hell. Happened?

Was it the Jets crap talk? Did it get into the Patriots heads? Did it make them tighten up, want too much to shut New York up and send them home sniveling and shamed?

No, said Matt Light and Bill Belichick.

Ask them, said Jets center Nick Mangold.

This much is true. For all the speculation that the Jets talk was a smoke screen being used to cover up their own insecurities, they didnt look too insecure Sunday. They looked confident. And every Patriots mistake only served as another log on the fire.

Anytime you take a beating like we did in the last game, it just fuels us, said Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis. We felt like we were totally disrespected the last time. Granted, they ran the score up on us, Brady with his emotions. They were doing our Jet run on certain plays." (Aside: how ridiculous is it for grown men to get angered by someone mocking their team logo or their "Lights out" dance?) "Going into this game, we just wanted to get them back."

To do so, the Patriots would have to be complicit in their downfall. They would have to play unlike they did since Cleveland. They were. They did.

We picked the wrong day to play our worst football," Deion Branch said. "I think today was worse than Cleveland. We just didnt make no plays.

"The Jets have always been a good team, said left tackle Matt Light, a member of an offensive line that allowed five sacks, scads of hurries and plenty of Brady knockdowns. They present some unique challenges and we didn't rise to the occasion. This is a different level when you get to this time period. We all talk about it and everybody says the playoffs are a different beast. I'm just not 100 percent sure if everybody understands that.

It wasnt for lack of care or effort. Or chemistry. Thats what the 2009 team that got waxed by Baltimore was about. It was a lack of . . . on-field cohesion? Self-belief?

We didnt make the plays when we needed to and thats unfortunate, said Light. We got a great team, we got great guys, we had great chemistry throughout the year. Unfortunately in this game it doesnt mean much at the end of it. Its not every day you get an opportunity like this and to fall short, thats a tough pill to swallow.

A pill so tough it can leave a Hall of Fame quarterback choking on tears.

Playoff football comes down to who makes the plays and we made too many mistakes, Brady lamented. Its totally a new season. There is a sign back there that said 0-0 and thats the truth.

And the Patriots who authored an amazing and unexpected 2010 season are 0-1. Oh, one and done.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran