EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Matt Cassel made no mistakes in his first NFL start - at least none that were costly.
Brett Favre, making his 255th straight, made a mistake that hurt the New York Jets badly in a 19-10 loss to New England on Sunday - an interception that led to the game's first touchdown and gave the Patriots the momentum they needed.
Cassel smiled at the comparison.
``He's a great quarterback. I used to watch him all the time when I was growing up,'' Cassel said. ``That's the way this game goes sometime.''
t Wes Welker, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Richard Seymour Vince Wilfork and Adalius Thomas win it.
Last season, en route to an 18-0 season that was spoiled by a Super Bowl loss to the Giants, the Patriots started with 38-14 wins over the Jets and Chargers, then beat the Bills 38-7.
There will be few if any ``38s'' this year. Or any of the 48s, 49s, 52s or 56s they put up as they steamrolled through the first two-thirds of their schedule.
But there are likely to be a lot of games like Sunday's and last week, when they beat the Chiefs 17-10 after Brady went down midway through the first quarter with the knee injury that ended his season. That's actually closer to the style that won three Super Bowls this decade than last year's wide-open offense, when Brady set a record for touchdown passes with 50 and Randy Moss set a mark for TD catches with 23.
Moss had just two catches for 22 yards on Sunday in the conservative offense the Patriots ran to minimize mistakes by Cassel, who backed up Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at Southern California and hadn't started a game since 1999, when he was a senior at Chatsworth High School in California.
t season. In fact, he was elected a team captain this year, a tribute to his selflessness.
The difference for Moss in the post-Brady offense came five minutes into the fourth quarter, with the Patriots leading 16-10.
He broke by New York cornerback Darrelle Revis and was 10-15 yards clear for an easy score.
But Cassel saw him late and by the time he did, two Jets were bearing down on him. He heaved the ball as far as he could, but by the time it got to Moss, Revis had caught up and was able to knock it away.
Cassel never saw the play. ``I was flat on my back,'' he said. ``I was hoping to hear an 'Ohhhhhh' from the crowd because this was an away game. It never came so I got up and ran the next play.''
The next play was just what the Patriots did most of the game - a run over right guard by LaMont Jordan for 8 yards as New England slowly made its way down the field. The drive reached the New York 9 and Stephen Gostkowski kicked the 29-yard field goal that made it 19-10 and effectively put away the game.
The exclamation point? A 20-yard sack of Favre by Thomas, who at 6-feet-6 and 270 pounds simply ran over the 5-8, 200-pound Leon Washington and ground Favre into the turf.
of those huge scores last season, when he didn't like folks questioning whether he was running up the score in retribution over the fuss being made over ``Spygate.''
``Spygate?''
Oh yes. That happened last year in the opener at the Meadowlands against the Jets, 53 weeks ago when a team employee was caught taping the Jets' signals.
Funny how quickly that was forgotten when Brady went down and Cassel stepped in to his spot.
``That's a real good win,'' said Belichick, who after the game went around shaking the hands of all his assistants, not a characteristic move. ``A lot of people didn't expect us to do much today. I'm very happy with the way they played.''
Remember that Belichick grew up as a defensive coach. So as much as he may have liked those blowouts, he also loved the sack by Thomas and another by Seymour that ended a drive.
If that's the way New England wins this season with Cassel at QB, it's just fine with him.
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