Nine points won't cut it today.
The New York Jets, who dropped a 10-9 decision to the Baltimore Ravens just six days ago to open their new stadium, remain in New Jersey today against the Patriots to complete their first two-game homestand to start a season since 1960. With Super Bowl aspirations, the Green & White don't want to start out 0-2 and fall two games behind the defending AFC East champions.
"We're ready to go. We're ready to have a breakout game," said QB Mark Sanchez. "I think there's no better week to do it. We'll get a win in our new stadium and get things rolling again."
There was no roll Monday night as the Green & White totaled 176 yards and six first downs. They did run for 110 yards, but Sanchez passed for just 74 yards and the "O" converted on just one of their 11 third downs.
"I wouldn't say I'm concerned," Sanchez said as the Jets prepared for the Pats. "I've said it before — it's way too early to hit the panic button with the guys we have in this room on the offensive side of the ball. They're some studs and we can rely on them. We have some go-to guys and we'll play a lot better this week. I know that. I know it for a fact."
The facts are the Jets were a below-average team in the division last year, going 2-4 on the way to a runner-up finish in the AFC East and a wild-card berth. They split with the Patriots and the last time these two teams played — Nov. 22, 2009 — the Pats handed the Jets a 31-14 defeat as Sanchez completed eight passes to Jets and four to Patriots.
And Wes Welker totaled career highs in both receptions (15) and yards (192). Rookie corner Kyle Wilson figures to see a lot of Welker this afternoon and he'll often be receiving some help over the top.
"If he's going to catch that many passes, we've got to hit him," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "We've got to get our hands on him and not give him free releases. All those kind of things, we're going to try to do, but he and [Tom] Brady are a tough combination. He's going to get his catches, but we've just got to limit the run after the catch."
The Patriots were very impressive in Week 1, racing out to a 31-3 lead over the Bengals at Foxboro and then coasting home. Brady was close to flawless out of the gates, completing 71 percent of his passes with 3 TDs and no turnovers.
"He's the best quarterback out there. He's seen it all," said Jets OLB Jason Taylor, who has sacked Brady more than any other active player. "He's very patient and a very smart quarterback. He takes his time and makes the right reads. He has playmakers around him and he just gets the ball to them and lets them do their job. He's very difficult to defend, but like any quarterback in this league, you have to put pressure on him and give him as many different looks as you can even though he's seen just about everything."
Jets Nation hopes Brady will see a 100 percent Darrelle Revis locked up with Randy Moss for four quarters. Revis, a dominant defender who was slowed a little by a tight hamstring this week, has held the Pats' vertical threat to under 35 yards in each contest the past two seasons.
While positives are often hard to find in a loss, the Jets' defense was physically dominant against the Ravens and Mike Westhoff's special teams lived up to their name. But the Week 1 contest, an emotional knock-down-drag-out affair, is over and it's time to step up once again.
If the Jets can remain disciplined — 14 flags were just too much laundry — and get a competent showing from their offense, there is not a game on their schedule they cannot win.
"I think when we're relaxing, having fun and just playing, like a kid's game, when we play it that way, we feel great. Good things happen for us," Sanchez said. "When we do push and stress about stuff, it makes things harder. I think part of that is we started getting penalties, things started happening and it was like nobody wanted to be the one to mess up."
LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene have the ability to mess the Patriots up, churning out yards on the ground and keeping Brady off the field in the process. Ryan also wants the Jets to get the ball into the hands of his wideouts more and both Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will have two young corners marking them in Devin McCourty and Darius Butler.
"I think everyone has to approach this with more of a sense of urgency, have fun with the game and not press," Edwards said. "I think we're all in the same boat. And as we get up, Mark will get up and as he gets up, we'll all get up. We'll work together."
The Jets held the Patriots to nine points last year in Week 2, pressuring Brady from every angle and receiving a boost from a raucous home crowd in 16-9 victory. That was the first time the Patriots were held without an offensive touchdown since Dec. 10, 2006 and also the Jets' first home win over the Pats in nine tries.
If the Green & White are to defend their turf for a second consecutive season, the onus is on the offense to step up and put some points on the board.
"Twenty-four should get it done," said Edwards. "Our defense is a good defense. As long as we don't give up touchdowns on offense, 24 should be a good number."