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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Patriots 19 Jets 10 - Week 2

Aaron Rodgers' offense scored 42 points in Green Bay, while the Jets scored 10 against Those Of Whom We Do Not Speak. It was a bad day for Brett, a bad day to be a Jets fan. Granted, Brett has to learn more of the playbook, but when he lead the team to a quick snap inside the five in the fourth quarter for which his colleagues were not prepared, he looked genuinely disappointed. "It's like we invited Brett Favre to our house," my wife said as we watched the Jets lose 19-10, "but there were no beverages to offer." Everywhere Jets fans seemed to wait for their team's timid offense to wake up and play. It did not. After a while, it was difficult to watch, a strangulation, a long march toward solemn defeat.

But watch it I did. I saw a limited running attack; a few good runs from Leon Washington and Thomas Jones, both of whom constitute the Jets' ground game. Many of our receivers were inactive for the game. There was a lot up the middle. My wife has been watching football with me for a while now, and I have patronizingly endured her complaints about how useless it is to run up the middle. Sometimes I feel the same way, but I always think there's a good explanation for it. But I felt the same way as she all game Sunday. All game. I didn't see Jay Feely's missed field goal in the first quarter because I was in the restroom. My trip was a result of a mistaken impression that his was a veritable chip shot through the posts. J-E-T-S.

Three runs up the middle in the first quarter went for naught. It's the mantra swarming the bare coverage the Jets will get this week in the New York media. We have the most explosive elderly quarterback in the game, and we keep going up the middle. Meanwhile New England ran screen passes to Wes Welker that the Jets appeared entirely unprepared to handle, which is ridiculous because we've all seen the Patriots run them before. These are the kind of plays that wear down a team down, but even more, they wear down the fan. This was the home opener, and by the midway point of the mildly distracting fourth quarter, the Jet faithful were already gathering as traffic on the Turnpike.

Kerry Rhodes had a great game, calling a sensible timeout that snuffed out a potential New England touchdown. Darrelle Revis played well, and the pass rush looked good. Our defense in the red zone looked good. Imagine if the defense had not been able to stop the Patriot touchdowns that were held to field goals: 35-10.

Listening to CBS didn't help. Jim Nance's recent memoir features pictures of the two George Bushes in the background, which makes sense. He sings with the winners. Shall I take the bitter pill? Hell, why not. His co-celebrant at the altar of Those Of Whom We Do Not Speak, Phil Simms, mispronounced Dustin Keller's last name as "Kellner." Ah well. Dustin's only a Jet.

"Well," I said, consoling myself, as Thomas Jones started picking up the running game a little too late, "the Jets are still kind of making a game of it."

"That's the spirit," said my wife.

I still don't know why she endures watching Jets games with me. She can obviously see that I don't actually enjoy it. I can't wait for it to start, but I can barely watch without sounding like a lost dog. Often I watch the game with a slackjacked expression. Even as I saw Laverneus Coles make that impressive gain in the first half to set up three successively unsuccessful runs up the middle, she must have seen me wordlessly moving myself to the edge of my chair and opening my mouth with a silent offering of devotion and hope - a "please" or maybe "don't drop the ball." These phrases really do crystallize the parallel emotions of a Jets fan as his team is driving. The closer they get to the goal line, the more that one feels that a turnover is imminent. The Jets' success is the bell; my anticipatory fear is dread's salivation.

Speaking of silence, how about the cavernous quiet of the Meadowlands in the fourth quarter? How quiet? The stadium was so silent that as the Patriots drove into the red zone for what would eventually be their last field goal, one could hear a lone manic whistler somewhere in the crowd. Like a shouting child in a parking garage who tries out his echo, the whistler seemed amazed at how his noise bounced around the vast space. It was mad in its endurance. At first it stood out in the same way that certain crowd noises do, and maybe the frustration I felt with the game forced it to the foreground of my brain. But how could anyone near the whistler have endured it for the five real minutes it went on and on? So sharp and piercing was the sound that one could not do anything but conclude that its owner had lost his mind. The agonizing game left the whistler with nothing to do but make a sound normally used by desperately stranded hikers in the mountains who are trying to attract the attention of search parties. It was intermittent only so that whistler could come up for air, and once he did, the piercing sound renewed again. It was a maddening cry for help. It went on and on and on.

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