While the third Sunday of the season in the NFL is not significant to many opponents, it is for the Patriots and Jets. For New England, it forever changed their history, nevermind reshaping the entire sport’s image of Boston. While for the Jets, it leaves the question “what if?”
The United States was still in mourning when the Jets traveled to Foxboro Stadium on September 23, 2001. Trailing 10-3 with 5:11 left in the 4th quarter, the Patriots faced a third down and ten from their 19-yard line.
After losing in Week 1, Drew Bledsoe knew to start 0-2 with losses to the downtrodden Bengals and Jets, might start the clock ticking towards changes. The same worries faced second-year Head Coach Bill Belichick, who was now about to fall to 5-13 since resigning on a napkin as HC of the NYJ. As Bledsoe took off from the pocket and tried to run for the first down, little did he know he was about to change team history forever.
THE BRADY ERA
What began for the New England Patriots that day (internal injuries to Bledsoe were more severe than initially thought) is still going strong.
The New York Jets and Mo Lewis had no idea that the player that took over the Patriots franchise quarterback was the true franchise quarterback.
Since that day, the world of professional football has witnessed the greatest player ever to take the field. The Patriots have won just under 80 percent of all their regular-season games since Brady took over for Bledsoe on September 23, 2001.
New England currently has streaks of eight consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances, ten AFC East division titles, and 16 seasons with ten or more wins. The Jets division title in 2002 was the only blemish in Brady’s resume, as the Patriots have won the AFC East in 16 of his 17 full seasons. Brady missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2008, and despite winning 11 games, the Patriots did not qualify for the postseason.
NUMBERS vs. BRADY
Since the numbers with Brady at the helm are so dominant, it is not fair for me to compare the Jets over the same period. To show just how dominant Brady has been, I gave the Jets a fair shot by going back to the start of the 1988 season. In essence, I am comparing the last 31 New York Jets regular seasons to Tom Brady’s career, which spans 17 seasons. I did include postseason numbers for both parties.
Since making his first NFL start on September 30, 2001, Brady has started 309 games, postseason included. During that time, he has won 239 games and thrown for 595 total touchdowns.
Since the start of the 1988 season, the NY Jets have played in 513 games (postseason included). Over that time, they have won 225 games and thrown 601 touchdown passes.
Despite playing 204 fewer games, Brady has won 14 more games and thrown just five fewer TD passes than the entire Jets franchise since 1988.
The Jets will be entering New England a wounded animal, having lost the first two games of 2019 and without starting QB Sam Darnold. Meanwhile, the Patriots look to keep rolling with 42-year old Brady at the helm. The Patriots have outscored their first two opponents, the Steelers, and Dolphins, by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots +73 point differential in the first two games of the season third-best in NFL history. Only the 1970 Detroit Lions (+75) and 1975 Washington Redskins (+74), have outscored their opponents by a wider margin in the seasons first two games.
Sunday will be Brady’s 36th career start against the Jets (postseason included). He is 28-7 (.800) overall, including a 15-3 record at Gillette Stadium. Overall Brady has thrown for 58 career TD against the Jets (30 at home) compared to just 15 interceptions (5 at home). Brady has averaged 245 yards per game passing overall (244 at home) and completed just under 62 percent of his passes.
The Jets have lost eight straight games, including 11 consecutive in the regular season against New England at home. Brady and the Pats have been exceptionally cruel to their divisional rivals in their last three matchups, outscoring them 105-12.
The last time the Jets left victorious at Gillette Stadium was the 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs, when they stunned Brady and Belichick, 28-21. The last time Gang Green won at New England during the regular season was in 2006.
The excellent news for Gang Green is that a bye week lay in waiting during Week 4. The gives the Jets a chance to lick their wounds before they head to Philadelphia – a franchise they are 0-10 against – when they return.