|Winter weather could help Jets slow Patriots' high-scoring offense|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 December 2007 11:17|
It was a fun and wet start to what was sure to be a miserably cold practice Thursday. With a wintry mix and temperatures in the high-30s expected for Sunday at New England, the wicked weather came at the perfect time.
``Have a nice day today to work,'' coach Eric Mangini said with a grin shortly before practice. ``I'm sure the guys are looking forward to that, like I am.''
Truth is, Mother Nature might be the one thing that can help slow the Patriots' high-scoring offense. With Tom Brady and Randy Moss approaching touchdown records, any assistance is welcome.
``I just think if you're not able to adjust to the weather and, say the wind's a factor, and you can't complete passes or guys can't hold on to the ball, I think it limits what you can do,'' safety Abram Elam said. ``Defensively, that would help us.''
The Patriots were dealing with their own weather woes up in Foxborough, Mass., on Thursday, practicing in the snow with temperatures in the low-20s.
``Weather affects both teams,'' safety Eric Smith said. ``It's not like it gives one team an advantage over another.''
Regardless of the conditions, the Jets know they'll still have to deal with Brady's stable of receivers, which includes Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney.
``When you practice in it, it gets you ready for the elements, being cold and all that, but it doesn't matter how much you practice,'' Smith said. ``You never know how the game is going to be or how it's going to affect the balls or the footing on the field.''
But it might just give the Jets, a 23-point underdog, a fighting chance against a team that's averaging nearly 39 points a game.
``I think I've heard everything,'' safety Kerry Rhodes said. ``That we were going to lose by 70. I think I've heard some others say that they could beat us and the Dolphins in a two-hour span. There's a lot of that stuff going on, but that's outside of here and we definitely don't believe that.''
Not that the Jets need anything more to get them fired up to play the Patriots.
``If you've got to look for motivation to play this game, you shouldn't be playing in it,'' Rhodes said.
Added Mangini: ``I appreciate all the different story lines associated with the game and I understand them, but they really have no effect on what we need to do, which is prepare for the game and prepare for all of the challenges that we're going to face - and there's plenty of them.''
For starters, the Patriots are 54 points from breaking Minnesota's mark of 556, set in 1998. Brady is five touchdown passes from topping Peyton Manning's record of 49, while Moss is four TD receptions from surpassing Jerry Rice's single-season mark of 22. Also, Welker is second in the NFL with a career-high 93 catches for 974 yards and eight TDs.
``As competitors, we've played against some good receivers throughout the season,'' Elam said. ``This is just another challenge, one that I think all of us in the secondary are willing to step up and take.''
In the teams' first meeting this season in Week 1, Moss sent a message to the rest of the league that he was back to his old self, catching nine passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.
``You have to be physical with him,'' Rhodes said. ``You have to get to him early and not let him run. Once he gets running, I don't think there is a defensive back in the league who can stick with him running down the field. If he gets down the field and gets going, it's going to be tough.''
And that's where the snow and slush could become sort of an extra defender in the Jets' secondary on Sunday. The Patriots struggled in swirling winds and occasional snow flurries at Baltimore before rallying in the final minutes to remain unbeaten two weeks ago.
``It slows your weapons down a little bit on both sides - not just theirs, but ours, too,'' Rhodes said. ``If you look at it that way, it may be more of a pound-it game, and they can run the ball, too. So, it's really no advantage for us. I think it's an outside thing where people are thinking we can slow them down that way, but they can do it all.''