Patriots Take the Air Out of Jets’ Season

It was comforting to realize the frauds we had to deal with Sunday were merely of the professional football variety. It required no soul-searching to watch the Jets’ being exposed as 90 percent hot air, the Lions unmasked as unthreatening bullies, or the Chiefs as … gee, I’m not even sure what analogy fits there but for some reason they evoke the image of squashed Bubble Wrap. Sure, you could comb the injury bin and start to feel queasy about the real toll the N.F.L. takes, but for a day, gosh, it sure beat contemplating college football’s full-scale ethical seizure.

The Jets-Patriots game got full entertainment billing Sunday night with its story line of good versus evil, upstart versus faltering powerhouse or loud versus smarmily annoying — depending on your point of view. It ended with Rex Ryan looking like a Macy’s parade float someone had let half the air out of, and while the Patriots hardly looked like their old selves, they were gritty enough to swat away the Jets, . By the end, with fans draining out of MetLife Stadium like green Kool-Aid from a leaky pitcher, the usual order of the American Football Conference East had been restored, , New England fans were relishing the humbling of Ryan, and the Jets maintained their trend of always seeming one game away from glory, .

And there were plenty of other purely football matters decided Sunday, with the other New York metropolitan area team, the Giants, becoming the latest reason for 49ers fans to marvel at the turnaround perpetrated by Coach Jim Harbaugh, . The Lions were clobbered by the Bears — oh my — while having their bully act look more and more pathetic, . The Lions may have started the fight, , but the Bears finished it. The Eagles showed again that they have exactly zero fight in the fourth quarter, , and that’s why this season is spelling the end for Coach Andy Reid, .

The coaching head-scratchers of the weekend came in two different varieties. that Falcons Coach Mike Smith’s decision to go for it on fourth down deep in his own end in overtime was a gaffe of ridiculous proportions. Denver Coach John Fox gets the opposite reaction for his new love affair that creates victory out of a 2-for-8 passing game from Tim Tebow. While at the idea that the Broncos could make the playoffs this way, the Chiefs have to explain how they could be bad enough to let that happen,

Baseball interrupted football season for a few minutes with the Cardinals’ hiring of . He could not be more different from Tony La Russa, . And the rescue of the kidnapped Washington Nationals player Wilson Ramos in Venezuela was followed by his startling this winter anyway.

Still, any good news seemed welcome after a week of absorbing the Penn State scandal, which will reverberate long after Saturday’s game pitting not only the Nittany Lions against Nebraska, but the usual celebratory atmosphere of a college football game against the reality of a sexual abuse scandal few could get their arms around. It highlighted the warped world of sports broadcasting, , and tempted people to think of the ousted Joe Paterno as some sort of victim in all this, urges people to resist. We hope the news media resist the knee-jerk use of the word redemption (of course, already failed at that with ) because unless Penn State suddenly becomes the leader in a massive movement to fight sexual abuse of children, there will be no redemption here.

What we are left with is questions, about why the investigation of Jerry Sandusky took so long — a topic tackled — and about how deeply this rocks the country’s views of college sports. that it should shake people’s faith, and

Sure makes you nostalgic for the days when p or whether Ohio State players paid for their tattoos were our biggest concerns. The questions are so much larger now. And they all make the N.F.L. feel like something of a relief.

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