2007-01-12 / Sports

Jets Knocked Out of Playoffs By Belichick's Patriots

By Elio Velez


QB Tom Brady (right) hugs CB Asante Samuel after the Patriots won 37-16 over the New York Jets last Sunday. Photo By Michael Delgado.
QB Tom Brady (right) hugs CB Asante Samuel after the Patriots won 37-16 over the New York Jets last Sunday. Photo By Michael Delgado. FOXBOROUGH, MA- Novels throughout time have focused on themes relationship between the master, an all knowing and wise adult who teaches the young apprentice to learn the ways of the world.

It is an idea that has passed down from generation to generation from books such as Beowulf to movie versions in Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

In their latest chapter of the continuing saga of the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, it was Belichick who once again proved that the master still has enough tricks to beat his former apprentice Eric Mangini.

Détente seemed to thaw last week in their respective pre-game press conferences. The cold war seems to be ending with a post game hug on the field in which a jubilant Belichick threw aside a photographer to embrace Mangini after the game.

People can debate whether the hug meant something or if Belichick was making up for his half hearted postgame handshake in the Jets regular season last November just for appearance sake.

Jets QB Chad Pennington runs up the middle with the football in the first quarter. Photo By Peter Borriello.
Jets QB Chad Pennington runs up the middle with the football in the first quarter. Photo By Peter Borriello. But Belichick could feel as jovial while Mangini can be a bit despondent after watching the Patriots use the entire playbook to their advantage.

All season, Jets head coach Eric Mangini has espoused and brow beaten the mantra of execution into his players heads. It's almost as if the term is tattooed to their foreheads, never to be forgotten.

The Jets though got knocked down like a boxer who went down, got up, but could not deal their own big blow to swerve the game in their favor.

"It's an extremely tough loss. I felt good coming into the game. They were able to execute more effectively than we did," Mangini said in his post game press conference as the Jets finished the season with a 10-7 record. "They are a good football team. I give them a lot of credit. They outexecuted us. That's what it was and that's what it came down to."

The Patriots had done everything creative to control the game. For the first time in weeks though, the Jets' lapse of execution was evident overall especially on the QB Chad Pennington lateral pass and fumble recovered by Patriots DT Vince Woolfork. That play gave the Patriots a 23-13 lead and was a defining statement of the Patriots' excellent performance. So with the Jets packing their bags for the off-season, they have a lot of positives to take away from their playoff campaign.

QB Chad Pennington won the AFC Comeback Player of the Year. They also got great performances from WR Laverneus Coles and two future stars in WR Jericho Cotchery and All-Pro Kerry Rhodes at safety. Coach Eric Mangini had an excellent rookie class in which the foundation was set as center Nick Mangold, OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and RB Leon Washington should contribute for years to come.

There will be changes because Mangini is always looking to improve the team. They are a sizeable $28 million under the salary cap and will make key signings to improve the defensive line and secondary. Until then, Mangini can be most impressed with thesuccess from the 2006 New York Jets.

"There were a lot of positive things. I can't stress enough (the players') hard work. They worked extremely hard. They worked hard for a long time. I thought they supported each other well. I thought that they played really good team football," Mangini said.

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