Green-Ellis leads Patriots past Jets, 30-21

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Green-Ellis leads Patriots past Jets, 30-21

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- A look at the stats leaves you wondering: How was the game this close?

The Patriots had 446 total yards to the Jets' 255. Twenty-six first downs to the Jets' 14. A 50 percent efficiency ratio on third down, compared to 27 percent for the Jets.

Scoring, summary, statistics

But the Pats left points on the board. ("A lot of points," said Tom Brady ruefully.) They twice settled for field goals instead of touchdowns when they couldn't convert third-and-shorts (once stalling at the New York 3). They missed a TD when Aaron Hernandez, in the end zone, let a pass from Brady slip through his hands and into the arms of Antonio Cromartie on the last play of the first half .

That's why, instead of being comfortably ahead, they found themselves with a precarious 27-21 lead with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. They took possession of the ball at their own 22, wanting to score but needing, more than anything, to run down the clock.

Enter BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

"It's always the challenge," the Pats' main running back said of the need to gain yards and use up time when the game's on the line, "and you always want to be able to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park."

Home run? This was a grand slam.

Green-Ellis carried the ball 10 times during a 13-play march, gaining 59 of his career-best 136 yards. He started the drive with an eight-yard run, gained 15 yards two plays later, and would later take a direct snap and run for 14 yards on third-and-four, pretty much slamming the door on New York's comeback hopes. The Pats took 6 minutes and 12 seconds off the clock, and when Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 28-yard field goal with 1:06 left, the Patriots had themselves a crucial 30-21 victory over their suddenly reeling division rivals.

Green-Ellis' heroics helped the Pats seal a deal that could have been sealed a lot earlier if not for . . .

Failure to convert a third-and-four on the Jets' 28 early in the second quarter. A pass from Brady to Deion Branch only gained two yards, and New England instead settled for a 44-yard field goal by Gostkowski and a 10-0 lead.

An inexcusable Hernandez flub of a perfectly thrown Brady pass on the last play of the second quarter. Instead of a touchdown and a 17-7 halftime lead, the ball caromed directly to Cromartie and kept the score at 10-7.

Inability to punch it in from the Jets' 6 early in the fourth quarter, again getting a field goal instead of a touchdown and only increasing their lead to 27-14 instead of 31-14.

"Yeah, I thought we could have done a lot better offensively," said Brady.

But no one could have done better than Green-Ellis at the end.

"Benny ran well, of course, like he always does," said coach Bill Belichick. "Runs hard, gets a lot of runs after contact."

"He ran great, he always does," raved Brady. "He's a tough runner, he's a real smart runner, he's patient, he sees the holes . . . When we call upon him, we need him and he makes the plays. That was great."

It was a measure of the final drive's importance that the two touchdowns Green-Ellis scored in the game were almost an afterthought.

His first came in the first quarter, capping a five-play, 64-yard drive and giving the Pats a 7-0 lead. They increased it to 10-0 with Gostkowski's second-quarter field goal, but the Jets -- finally getting their offense untracked after a dismal first quarter -- went 78 yards in 13 plays and cut the Pats' advantage to 10-7 when Shonn Greene ran it infrom the 3 with 3:21 left in the half.

Hernandez' drop kept the score at 10-7 heading into the second half. But the Patriots came out in the third quarter and bookened the period with a pair of long scoring drives, taking a 24-14 lead.

The first drive went 80 yards, and they covered the ground quickly as, on the first play of the half, Wes Welker slipped behind the defense and reeled in a bomb from Brady. He was caught from behind by Darrelle Revis, but the 73-yard play gave the Pats a first-and-goal at the 7.

The drive seemed doomed when Branch lost the ball after catching a Brady pass at the 2, but the replays showed he was down by contact before the ball came loose and the referees overturned their on-the-field fumble ruling. On the next play, Brady received outstanding protection from the offensive line, allowing Branch to slip free from Cromartie and catch a pass in the wide-open corner of the end zone for a 17-7 advantage.

Joe McKnight took the ensuing kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone and ran it out 88 yards to the New England 20. Three plays later, Mark Sanchez passed 11 yards to Jeremy Kerley for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-14. But late in the quarter, the Pats ran their no-huddle offense to perfection during an 11-play, 77-yard drive that gave them their 10-point lead back, 24-14. They converted two third downs during the march -- including a 17-yard, Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski pass on a third-and-13 -- and got to the 3 on a 13-yard swing pass from Brady to Green-Ellis. On the next play, Green-Ellis ran it in for his second touchdown of the game.

A 24-yard field goal by Gostkowski early in the fourth quarter put New England in front 27-13, but the Jets made it 27-21 with an 11-play, 85-yard drive capped by Mark Sanchez' 21-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.

That drive, and the earlier one for their first TD, was pretty much all the offense the Jets could muster.

"I think every week we've been getting better and better and better," Vince Wilfork said of the defense. "Is everything perfect? No. There's a lot of things we could do better. We have to continue to grow, continue to get better, but we definitely did a good job tonight."

The Jets have now lost three in a row and fell to 2-3this season. The Pats, conversely, are 4-1 and remain tied with Buffalofor first place in the AFC East.

"Definitely a great win," said Hernandez.

And, as much as anyone in what Belichick (correctly) called "a good team win," they have Green-Ellis to thank.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

The New England Patriots have announced that they've released defensive tackle Darius Kilgo. 

The move creates an opening for wide receiver Griff Whalen, who they have reportedly signed to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Kilgo, a sixth-round pick out of Maryland in 2015, did not make an appearance for the Patriots after being claimed off waivers from the Broncos last week. He played 81 snaps for Denver this season.

Whalen, 26, played in two games for San Diego in 2016 where he caught two passes for a total of 22 yards. 

The former Colts wideout is perhaps best remembered in New England for his part in Indianapolis' disastrous against the Patriots last season.

 

 

 

John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

FOXBORO – John Harbaugh explained on Thursday the difference between the rules loophole his Ravens exploited recently and the one the Patriots exploited in the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game that caused him to cry, “Foul.”

What it boiled down to? Everyone knew about the loophole the Ravens took advantage of when they committed an en masse holding penalty at the end of the game against the Bengals. 

Nobody had seen what the Patriots successfully pulled off when they made eligible receivers ineligible and vice versa and went on a touchdown drive that changed the tenor of the game.

“You’re right. I don’t want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said when I asked what the difference was. “That’s all been hashed out. I believe what I believe and I think it’s all been proven to be right.

“The point about [the punt hold] is, it’s been talked about, it’s been looked at, it’s been something that’s been used for 20 years so it’s nothing new,” he explained. “It’s nothing that hadn’t been addressed before by officials or the competition committee.”

Harbaugh said that, in Super Bowl 47, his Ravens used the tactic and his brother Jim, coach of the Niners, took it up with the Competition Committee. John Harbaugh supported the change, he said. The league declined.  

“Everybody knew about that so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody,” said Harbaugh.

LISTEN: New Quick Slants podcast w/ more stories of Ravens antics

After the Patriots beat Baltimore in a tremendous game, Harbaugh was in a snit in his postgame press conference alleging the “nobody’s ever seen that [eligible-ineligible trickery] before.” He said the play was “illegal” and “deceptive.”

I mentioned that Alabama had run the play in a nationally televised game against LSU and that the Titans had done the same thing on a game-ending play against the Jets a few weeks earlier.

Aside from whether or not the information was accurately communicated by the officials, the tone of Harbaugh’s comments left little room for interpretation. He indicated the Patriots were underhanded and that his comments seemed to discredit New England.

“That was not the intent and if you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way,” said Harbaugh. “That was not the point of it at all. You had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such. The official had no way to identify that for the defense so there was no signal or any other way that they could do that. That was something that was addressed the very next week. If somebody wants to look at it some certain way, that’s not my concern.”

When I offered that referee Bill Vinovich not only identified Shane Vereen as being ineligible but added, “Don’t cover 34…” over the stadium mic, Harbaugh wasn’t having it.  

“That’s not something that had ever been gone over,” he insisted. “Players were never taught don’t cover that player. When you’re on the field, you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can even hear or are listening for. The next week there was a tweak.”

Indeed there was. And not just with the officials then being on the hook to make more detailed announcements. The further tweak, perhaps spurred by the formation chicanery and Tom Brady’s recommendation that Baltimore “study the rules” came when the Ravens passed on intel to the Colts for the AFC Championship Game. One of the recommendations from Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was to watch that the Patriots’ sideline staff didn’t monkey with the kicking balls. That was included in a letter to NFL Operations man Mike Kensil along with an allegation that it was “well known around the league” that the Patriots deflate footballs before the game and that the league needed to keep an eye on that.

Harbaugh hasn’t hidden from the fact he found Brady’s comment offensive.

"I was pissed off," he said this past summer. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed...So yeah, that should never have been said."

He has, however, disavowed any talk by his staff about the Patriots allegedly deflating footballs. "Any conversation that was had with the Colts had nothing to do with deflated footballs, which is what we've been saying since the very start," Harbaugh said in 2015. "I know that we've answered the questions from the beginning to the end very simply. Our yes is yes. Our no is no. We've answered questions directly and honestly and straightforward from the start."

Whether the Patriots’ formation plays and the Ravens response to it led to a $30M investigation that hijacked the NFL’s attention for 20 months and resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady is still not definitively known. Could Rosburg and the Colts equipment man have possibly discussed kicking ball chicanery without sharing notes on the belief the Patriots deflated footballs? Rosburg and former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Ravens coach Dean Pees were both spoken to by investigator Ted Wells. What did they offer

Just like everything else between Ravens and Patriots, it’s complicated.