No rest for the newly rejuvenated. The New York Jets, eight days after their stimulating 24-22 home win over the Dallas Cowboys, return to action tonight, on Monday Night Football, and their opponent is no less than their AFC East nemeses and the undefeated leaders of the division, the New England Patriots.
Do the Jets have it in them to post a second consecutive win to set the NFL world atwitter?
The Jets have struggled in recent years against the Patriots, but since 2013 the rule has been, logically, that they play the Patriots a whole lot better at MetLife Stadium than they do at Gillette Stadium. In fact, five of the last six games in the Meadowlands have been decided by seven points or fewer and the Jets have won two of the six, both in overtime, in 2013 and '15.
Helping the Green & White tonight, one week after the quarterback of the offense, Sam Darnold, returned to action vs. the Cowboys after missing three games with mono, the quarterback of the defense is back in action. MLB C.J. Mosley, who had a brilliant Jets debut in the opener against the Bills only to come away with a groin injury that cost him the last four games, is ready to return in the middle of the D against Tom Brady and company.
Also active tonight will be CB Nate Hairston, who started two games at LCB but was unavailable vs. Dallas with a knee injury, was limited at Saturday's practice and listed as questionable for the game.
However, injuries have landed five starters from recent weeks on inactive duty, including LB Neville Hewitt (who had been playing MLB in Mosley's absence), DL Henry Anderson, TE Chris Herndon, T Kelvin Beachum and G Kelechi Osemele.
See the Green and White Arriving for Monday Night Football
New England had a much shorter injury list than the Jets this week, but two of the players declared out bruised the Jets in Game 3, the Patriots' 30-14 win at Gillette. WR Josh Gordon (knee/ankle), who had six catches for 83 yards, and rookie TE Ryan Izzo (concussion), who had a 41-yard catch-and-run from Brady, are both inactive. So is RB Rex Burkhead, who ran for a TD in that September game.
Can it hurt the home team that the Jets tonight will be honoring Kevin Mawae for being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Mawae, their perennial Pro Bowl center from 1998-2005, will be presented with his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence by HOF president & CEO Dave Baker during a special halftime presentation. In his Jets career, Mawae gave the Patriots as good as he got, winning seven of his 14 games against the Pats.
He told reporters before the game that playing New England on Monday night is special. Why?
"It's the Patriots — they're the evil empire," Mawae said with a smile. "I alluded to them in my [Canton] speech. They build a great program there. I've got a lot of respect for [Bill] Belichick and what he and Mr. [Robert] Kraft have done. Unfortunately for us, we were on the losing end of a lot of those games, but you've got to appreciate how they've run their organization and the success they've had.
"Everybody hates the winners," he concluded, "and so maybe we'll walk out of here with a win and it'll be satisfying."
We'll have much more on Mawae's visit on newyorkjets.com Tuesday. For now it'll be up to this year's Jets to follow their center's pulling block one more time, turn their mini-roll into a larger one and even a few scores on national TV tonight.
The Jets' full seven-player inactive list tonight is:
- RB Trenton Cannon
- LB Neville Hewitt
- LB Albert McClellan
- T Kelvin Beachum
- G Kelechi Osemele
- TE Chris Herndon
- DL Henry Anderson
And the Patriots' inactive list tonight:
- WR Josh Gordon
- S Patrick Chung
- RB Rex Burkhead
- OL Korey Cunningham
- DL Michael Bennett
- TE Matt LaCosse
- TE Ryan Izzo
The Jets are donning their new green jerseys and green pants for this one. It's the first time they'll be in all Gotham Green since getting their new uniforms in the offseason. The last time they went green/green in the old unis was in two games last season, the hard-fought 27-13 loss to the Patriots in Game 11 and the rousing 34-16 win over Denver in Game 5.
Shawn Hochuli is tonight's referee. It's his second Jets game as a ref, following last season's Game 11 Jets-Patriots game at MetLife.