- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching the divisional-round matchups, Scouts Inc. shares some observations about the AFC and NFC Championship Game qualifiers:
The New York Jets' defense had a tremendous understanding of the New England Patriots' route combinations. That was the key to the Jets' 28-21 upset of the host Patriots in this AFC divisional-round playoff game Sunday. The Jets knew exactly what New England was trying to accomplish in the passing game. New York trusted cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to be on their own on the outside. The Jets dedicated their remaining resources to taking away the slot receivers and tight ends.
New York had a ton of defenders in a close group in the middle of the field. Pats quarterback Tom Brady didn't sense the pass rush nearly as well as usual, and the Jets' defenders won their one-on-one matchups. Brady often held the ball looking to make a play downfield, and it too often resulted in a sack or an uncharacteristic throwaway. The first read was rarely available. Brady spent a lot of time on the ground by his standards, and it seemed that every time the Patriots' offense did get a bit of flow, it did something to hurt itself. This was masterful coaching by New York and great execution by the players.
Scouts Inc. examines the Jets' perfect ploys to ground the Patriots' air game, the Steelers' surviving their own sloppiness, Aaron Rodgers' unstoppable play versus the Falcons and more.