The Patriots (14-2) are the AFC’s No. 1 seed led by one of the NFL’s most successful head coach-quarterback duos with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, while the Jets have been one of the league more controversial teams off the field and one of the toughest defenses on it.
New York went into Lucas Oil Stadium last Saturday and eliminated the Indianapolis Colts 17-16 on a final-play 32-yard field goal by K Nick Folk. The Colts had taken a 16-14 lead on an Adam Vinatieri 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. RB LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns, and QB Mark Sanchez completed 18 of 31 passes for 189 yards in the victory.
New England comes into the AFC playoffs on an eight-game win streak. The Patriots have not lost since a 34-14 blowout at Cleveland in Week 9. New England led the league with an 32.4 points per game average and was eighth in yards per game at 363.8. Brady threw for 3,900 yards and 36 TDs during the season, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis led all Pats rushers with 1,008 yards and 13 TDs. Wes Welker continued to be Brady’s favorite target as he caught 86 passes for 848 yards and seven TDs.
The last time the teams met in the regular season, the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 on Dec. 6 in Foxborough. Brady threw for 326 yards and four TDs in the victory. New York won the first meeting of 2010, 28-14 in New Meadowlands Stadium, thanks to three scoring tosses by sanchez.
The last time the clubs met in the playoffs, New England beat the Jets 37-16 on Jan. 7, 2007 in the AFC Wild Card Game. Brady threw 2 TDs and New England CB Asante Samuel had a 36-yard interception return for a score.
Thanks to the game notes produced by the two clubs’ PR staffs and notes provided by the NFL PR staff, here is a look at the key notes for the Jets and Patriots going into the second AFC Divisional Playoff Game.
NEW YORK JETS
HEADLINES: Owners of a 7-2 mark on the road in 2010 and a combined road record of 14-6 under Head Coach Rex Ryan, the Jets travel to Foxborough where they will face a New England team that is undefeated at home in 2010 and owns a 60-12 record since 2002, the best winning percentage in the NFL during that time. Last week, the Jets defeated an Indianapolis club that owned the second-best home winning percentage in the NFL since 2002. With a win on Sunday, the Jets would record a franchise-high eight road victories in a single season (including postseason). The previous high was seven set in 2009.
In four postseason games under Ryan, the Jets have averaged 148.8 rushing yards and 36.8 rushing attempts. RB Shonn Greene has been the primary contributor, rushing for 374 yards on 73 carries to rank third all-time in Jets postseason history for rushing yards in only his second NFL season.
DL Shaun Ellis is poised to extend his team record for most postseason games played. Sunday’s game will mark his 11th career playoff contest.
LB JASON TAYLOR: With 27 matchups against the Patriots, Taylor has seen New England more than any other current Jet. In those 27 matchups, Taylor has amassed 13 sacks, three interceptions, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also scored two touchdowns in the series, one on a 36-yard interception return and the other on a one-yard fumble return.
In his first game against New England as a Jet, Taylor sacked Tom Brady for a loss of nine yards, forcing a fumble that would be recovered by Bryan Thomas to halt a potential Patriots scoring drive.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
PATRIOTS AGAINST TOP-10 SCORING DEFENSES: The Patriots have played an opponent with a top 10 scoring defense (fewest points allowed per game) seven times in 2010 and are 6-1 in those games. The Patriots are averaging 30.1 points per game when playing a defense ranked among the top 10 stingiest in terms of allowing points. While the Patriots are averaging 30.1 points per game against those teams, the rest of the NFL is averaging 16.4 points per game.
PATRIOTS SET A TEAM RECORD IN TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: The Patriots set a franchise record by finishing the 2010 season with a turnover differential of +28, forcing 38 turnovers while allowing just 10 turnovers. The previous Patriots’ team record for best turnover differential in a season was +17, a record which was set in 2003. The Patriots finished 13-0 in 2010 when recording a positive turnover differential. The Patriots’ turnover differential of +28 is the second-best since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, trailing only the +43 posted by the 1983 Washington Redskins.
The Patriots had just 10 turnovers in 2010 (5 interceptions and 5 fumbles), setting an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season. The previous NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season was 12 by Kansas City in the strike-shortened 1982 season. The previous record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season was 13 by the Giants and Dolphins in 2008. The former Patriots record for fewest turnovers in a season was 15 in 2007 (9 interceptions and 6 fumbles).
JETS-PATRIOTS FROM THE NFL PR OFFICE: TEAMS MEET for 3rd time in postseason. Patriots are 2-0 vs. Jets in playoffs.
JETS: Incl. postseason, Jets are 14-6 (.700) on road under head coach Rex Ryan … QB Mark Sanchez has 3-1 postseason record, most playoff wins by Jets QB in franchise history. Club 2-0 vs. NE when Sanchez has 100+ passer rating … Jets are averaging 149.8 rush yards per game in past 4 postseason games … RB LaDainian Tomlinson tied postseason-high with 2 rush TDs last week & had 82 rush yards, 2nd-most of career in playoffs (123 on 1/14/07 vs. NE). For career (incl. postseason), Tomlinson averages 5.0 rush yards per carry vs. Patriots. RB Shonn Greene averages 93.5 rush yards per game in postseason (374 total) … 14 of WR Santonio Holmes’ 20 postseason receptions have been for 1st downs (70.0 pct.). WR Braylon Edwards averages 21.8 yard per catch in postseason (10 receptions, 218 receiving yards). WR Jerricho Cotchery had 4 receptions for 100 receiving yards, incl. 77-yard TD catch in only career playoff meeting vs. Patriots … TE Dustin Keller has 3 TD receptions in 4 postseason games. Keller averages 14.9 yards per catch in postseason (15 receptions, 223 receiving yards) … CB Darrelle Revis has 2 INTs in 4 career playoff games & needs 1 INT to tie Greg Buttle (3) for most career postseason INTs in franchise history … CB Antonio Cromartie had INT in last playoff game vs. NE (w/ Chargers on 1/20/08). Cromartie had 2 KR returns for 88 yards (44.0 avg.) last week. incl. 47-yard KR in 4th quarter to set up game-winning FG … S Eric Smith led team with 10 tackles last week … LB Jason Taylor has 13 career sacks vs. NE … LB Calvin Pace had 1st career postseason sack last week … Jets had 3 players selected to 2011 Pro Bowl (T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, C Nick Mangold, CB Revis).
PATRIOTS: Since 2000, NE has won 8 division titles, most in NFL during that span … Club has 8-5 record in Divisional Playoffs (.615) …. Patriots scored NFL-high 518 points in ’10, 7th-most points scored by team in single season in NFL history … NE has 8 consecutive 10-win seasons, 3rd-longest streak in league annals (16, San Francisco, 1983-98; 9, Indianapolis (2002-present) … With win, Bill Belichick will tie HOFer Chuck Noll (16) for 4th-most playoff wins all-time. Belichick is 1st head coach ever to win at least 14 regular-season games in 4 separate seasons … QB Tom Brady has NFL-best 14-4 (.778) postseason record (minimum 15 starts). Brady has won an NFL-record 27 consecutive regular-season home games as starter. Brady owns active streak of 335 consecutive passes without INT this season, best in NFL history. Passed for at least 2 TD with no INTs in his past 9 games, longest such streak in league annals. Has not thrown INT in his past 11 games. At home vs. Jets as starter (incl. postseason), Brady has 7-2 record & has completed 190 of 295 passes (64.4 pct.) for 2,056 yards with 10 TDs vs. 3 INTs & 91.9 passer rating … RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (1,008 rush yards, 13 rush TDs) joined Curtis Martin as only 2nd Patriot to have at 1,000 rush yards & 13 rush TDs in season. Green-Ellis will make playoff debut. RB Danny Woodhead had career-best 104 receiving yards in last game vs. Jets … WR Wes Welker led team in receptions for 4th consecutive season, longest streak in franchise history (112 in ’07; 111 in ’08; 123 in ’09; 86 in ’10). Welker has 2 TD receptions in 3 career postseason games. Aims for 3rd straight game with TD catch vs. NYJ. WR Deion Branch (725) needs 75 receiving yards to reach 800 career postseason receiving yards. TE Rob Gronkowski caught 10 TD passes in 2010, most by rookie in franchise history & 2nd most by rookie TE all-time (Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, 12 in 1961) … CB Devin McCourty led all NFL rookies with 7 INTs, 2nd-most in NE history among rookies (HOFer Mike Haynes, 8 in ’76) … DT Vince Wilfork had career-best 2 sacks in Week 17 … LB Jerod Mayo led team with 193 tackles, 3rd-most in season in Patriots history (Clayton Weishunn, 229 in ’83; Steve Nelson, 207 in ’84).