FOXBOROUGH â€“ No matter how bad the Jets are, when they play the Patriots, they always seem to play their best â€“ or two best â€“ game(s) of the year.
After a season opening victory over Oakland, the Jets have lost five straight games, the worst losing streak in the Rex Ryan era.Â The Patriots did make it six, but barely, as a last second field goal attempt by Nick Folk from 58 yards out was blocked by Chris Jones, sealing a 27-25 Patriot win on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.Â The Jets played a solid game and battled the Patriots tooth and nail, and in the end the better team (stop us if youâ€™ve heard this before) found a way to win.
It seemed all game long that the Patriots were giving the Jets all they wanted on the ground while literally daring Geno Smith to beat the Patriots through the air.Â The stingy Jet defense almost made the Patriots pay for that strategy, but an incredible touchdown catch by Danny Amendola with 7:49 left gave the Patriots an eight-point margin that held up in the end.
Danny Amendola caught the winning touchdown pass and recovered an onside kick to help the Patriots beat the Jets on Thursday night.
(USA TODAY Images)
The night seemed like a Patriot blowout was in the offing right from the start.Â On their second offensive play, Tom Brady hit Brandon LaFell for 24 yards after a missed tackle by Phillip Adams.Â Two plays later, Shane Vereen lined up at wideout on the right side.Â Two Jet defensive backs, especially safety Antonio Allen who was most responsible for coverage, let Vereen run uncovered down the right sideline.Â Brady hit Vereen and almost overthrew him, but Vereen made the catch and stumbled into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown catch and a quick 7-0 lead for the Patriots.
Ryan and his defense were embarrassed, and the Jets struck back.Â The Patriots played primarily a 4-2-5 base defense to make up for the loss of Jerod Mayo, with man coverage on the outsides and zone up the middle.Â On the third offensive play for the Jets, Smith was able to hit tight end Jeff Cumberland on a slant route for 28 yards with Devin McCourty playing a soft zone.Â Chris Ivory, the top offensive weapon for the Jets, ripped off a 15-yard run amidst a hail of missed tackles.Â Folk would later hit a 23-yard field goal to put the Jets on the board.
The Jets had the ball four times in the first half, and each drive ended in a Folk field goal.Â The Patriots seemed to concede a ton of yardage between the 20s, especially on runs by Ivory.Â Eric Decker, the free agent pickup from Denver, drew former Jet Darrelle Revis in coverage.Â Decker wound up with four catches for 65 yards to lead the Jets.Â Late in the first quarter, Smith threw perhaps his prettiest pass of the night as he lofted a lob pass just over the leaping Revis and into Deckerâ€™s hands for 24 yards to help set up Folkâ€™s second field goal.
Time of possession in the first half was lopsided in favor of the Jets, 22 minutes to eight for the Patriots.Â But the Patriots led 17-12, as Brady was able to hit Vereen for a second touchdown pass, this time from 3 yards out with 4:22 left in the first half.Â The plan to allow Jet movement from between the 20s was working up to that time.
The Jets got the ball to begin the second half and proceeded to take the lead, eating up six minutes of time in the process.Â Ivory began the second half with a 17-yard run on a nice cutback move.Â Two plays later, Ivory burst up the middle for 12 yards.Â On third and four, Decker caught a slant pass for 14 yards, but Alfonzo Dennard was on him and not Revis.Â Three plays later, on third and 12, Decker beat Revis for 18 yards on a slant route.Â On first and goal at the eight, Ivory ran twice to cover the eight yards and the Jets led 19-17.Â The Patriots would get the lead back on the next drive thanks partly to two defensive penalties on the Jets.Â Stephen Gostkowski was perfect on both his field goal attempts, and this 36-yarder gave the Patriots the lead for good at 20-19.
The Jetsâ€™ next drive resulted in their first punt of the night as their first five drives resulted in scores.Â The teams traded three-and-outs until a bad Ryan Quigley punt went only 30 yards to the Jet 46 with 10:51 left.Â Brady was able to shake off two consecutive dropped passes by Julian Edelman and drove the Patriots the 46 yards to give them the winning margin.Â Brady hit Gronkowski for five yards, then Edelman for 14, and then a nice seam pass for 24 yards to put the Patriots at the Jet 3.Â Vereen lost a yard on first down, then an illegal pick call on LaFell put the Patriots back at the Jet 19.Â On third down, Brady dropped back, rolled to his left, then hurled the ball towards the end zone.
Amendola, perhaps the most maligned Patriot, ran a slant route against Allen, then curled back inside and made a leaping grab of Bradyâ€™s pass in the end zone.Â The Patriots led, 27-19 with 7:49 left.Â It was a remarkable catch by Amendola, his best in a season where he was literally no offensive factor at all.
The Jets had only one timeout left at this time.Â Through either Jet stupidity or Patriot savvy, the Patriots gave the Jets a ton of yardage over the middle and despite giving up a touchdown, the Jets were forced to eat up 5:18 of playing time.Â The Jets havenâ€™t converted a two-point try in four years (the last one was against New England, of course).Â Smith overthrew Jace Amaro in the end zone, and the Patriots kept the lead.Â Amendola added to his heroic evening by smothering the onside kick which took a funky bounce and didnâ€™t look like the solid lock play it has looked like over the years.
The Patriots could have iced the game with one first down, but managed only one net yard on their brief possession.Â The Jets got the ball back with 1:06 left, and once again ran plays that mostly stayed inbounds.Â Folk was left to try a 58-yard field goal with four seconds left, and Chris Jones, who was at the epicenter of that strange penalty in the loss to the Jets last year, was able to burst in from the middle and block the kick to end the game.
Ivory finished with 107 yards rushing on 21 carries and an average just over five yards.Â The Jets as a team rushed for 218 yards and a 5.1 average per carry.Â Smith was 20 of 34 passing for 226 yards and an 88.6 rating.Â Despite the game being a nailbiter to the finish, the Patriotsâ€™ game plan worked perfectly, but the team does need to do more to replace Mayo with tougher competition coming up on the horizon.
Brady was 20 of 37 for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and a passer rating of 103.5.Â Vereen and Gronkowski each had five catches for 139 combined yards.
The Patriots get the Chicago Bears at home in a week and a half.Â The rest will do them well, but this 4-2-5 base that worked against the Jets wonâ€™t cut it for the rest of the season.Â Jay Cutler is better than he has been in years past, and the next quarterback after him is someone named Peyton.
But a win over the Jets is nice no matter how pretty or ugly.