The Patriots have been outgained by the Jets through the first half of their matchup at the Meadowlands, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of building an 11-point lead over the Jets.
They have a Geno Smith interception and poor punt coverage to thank for help on their way to the lead. Logan Ryan picked off Smith in the first quarter and took the ball 81 yards for a touchdown followed by a celebration that could lead to a fine from the league. Smith stared down David Nelson before throwing the ball, giving Ryan all the time he needed to step in front and sprint to a score.
The poor punt coverage came in the second quarter when Julian Edelman returned a 37-yard Ryan Quigley punt 38 yards to the Jets’ 28-yard line. Stevan Ridley ran for a 17-yard touchdown a bit later and the Patriots had the 21-10 lead they’d take into the half.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski’s return has led to four catches for 54 yards, two of which set up the first New England score of the game, and a lot of attention from the Jets defense. A holding penalty before Ridley’s touchdown and a couple of good pass breakups by Antonio Allen has been the result of that attention. Overall, it’s been a mixed bag offensively for the Patriots, who moved the ball well on their first drive and fitfully from then on.
The interception by Smith was a poor play, but he looked sharp to open the game and finished the half 10-of-18 for 159 yards. The Jets didn’t move the ball as well once the game hit the second quarter, something that will need to change if they’re going to pull off a comeback.