By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
December 22, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- Coming into Sunday night's AFC East showdown with the New York Jets New England controlled their own playoff destiny.

That's no longer the case.

Their destiny is now held by the Jets who beat them 30-17 in front of a cold and frustrated Gillette Stadium crowd that watched the Patriots offense total just 78-yards in the first half. During that span they converted just 1-of-8 third down opportunities (13%) and allowed New York to hold the ball for nearly 18-minutes.

The loss is their second in a row and drops New England to 8-7 with just one game left against division rival Miami next Sunday afternoon in Foxboro. However in order to advance to the postseason they'll most likely need to win the AFC East, and that can only happen not only if the Patriots win next Sunday, but they'll also need the Jets to lose to the Green Bay Packers at the Meadowlands next weekend.

New York (8-7) spent much of the evening picking on Leonard Myers who started at right cornerback in place of the injured Otis Smith who was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a shoulder injury. The Jets threw in his direction for most of the night, and were able to connect on two touchdowns on his side of the field.

Meanwhile Jets quarterback Chad Pennington connected on his first 11-passes and had a big night, completing 23-of-33 for 285-yards and tossing three touchdowns, and finishing the night with a quarterback rating of 126.5.

As for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady he finished 19-of-37 for 133-yards with a touchdown pass, an interception, and a quarterback rating of just 57.6.

"It seems sometimes the harder you try, the harder it gets," Brady told the media after the game. "We just didn't make enough plays to win today."

Brady and the offense struggled to sustain drives and for the second straight week allowed the other team to win the battle for time of possession, with the Jets holding the ball for over 34 minutes compared to the Patriots who only had it for 25:38.

They also had to play from behind when the Jets took control early in the game after a 34-yard punt return on their second possession gave New York 1st-and-10 at the New England 43-yard line. Three plays later Pennington found Laveranues Coles who caught the ball behind both Leonard Myers and Victor Green for a 32-yard touchdown grab to put the Jets up early 7-0 with 9:54 left in the 1st quarter.

But on the ensuing kickoff Kevin Faulk returned the ball 87-yards for a touchdown, knotting the score at 7-7. On the return Faulk returned the ball up the middle and leaped over defenders and then took off, beating the kicker, John Hall, who was the last guy who had a chance to catch him.

However the Jets struck again later in the first quarter after a 47-yard reception by wide receiver Santana Moss helped set up an 11-yard touchdown catch by Moss which put the Jets up 14-7.

Adam Vinatieri would later add a 49-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-10, but the Jets answered with a 12-play 50-yard drive which took over five minutes off the clock and ended with a 39-yard field goal by John Hall. The kick gave the Jets a 17-10 lead with 4:24 left in the first half, and that was the way it remained after neither team was able to put anything together for the rest of the half.

The Patriots opened the third quarter with a well orchestrated 16-play 66-yard drive that lasted 8:41 and ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brady to tight end Christian Fauria, knotting the score at 17-17. Just like that New England was back in the game and appeared to have momentum.

After their defense stopped the Jets offense Troy Brown attempted to field the ensuing punt and fumbled away the football, with Nick Ferguson recovering for New York at the New England 19-yard line. The turnover set up a 23-yard field goal by John Hall and the Jets regained the lead and the momentum at 20-17.

The Jets forced a 3-and-out by New England's offense on the ensuing possession, and then marched 74-yards on 9-plays against a very tired defense en-route to a 15-yard touchdown by wide receiver Wayne Chrebet. The key play on that drive was after the Jets were called on 3rd-and-4 for an illegal shift which backed them up five yards setting up a 3rd-and-9, Ty Law allowed Coles to beat him for a 13-yard completion and was subsequently called for a facemask which put the ball at the 18-yard line.

New York then picked off Tom Brady on the Patriots next possession after he attempted to throw deep to David Patten, and turned around to march 47-yards on 11-plays where they kicked a 43-yard field goal for the games' final points.

"This team isn't playing with a lot of confidence," said Brady. "It's obvious."

GAME NOTES: Kevin Faulk's kickoff return for a touchdown was the second of the season, and the second and longest return of his career….Tight end Christian Fauria has 26-receptions on the season, seven of which are touchdowns…..Inactives for Sunday night's game were linebacker Tedy Bruschi, T Tom Ashworth, T Kenyatta Jones, WR Deion Branch, and TE Cam Cleeland.


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