EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For the first and fourth quarters, the Jets looked as if they had switched places with their biggest adversaries, the New England Patriots.
Unfortunately for New York, NFL games are 60 minutes long.
This was an unexpected battle for sole possession of first place in the AFC East. A Jets team many predicted to go 0-16 came in tied with the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots at 3-2. The result, though, was something fans have come to expect in the division over the past two decades.
The New England Patriots eventually prevailed 24-17 thanks to a steady stream of gains from quarterback Tom Brady and timely takeaways. The Jets did their part to make things interesting late, but their comeback attempt failed on their final drive of the game.
The Jets rushed out to a 14-0 lead, but New England scored 24 unanswered points from the middle of the second quarter until the start of the fourth to seize control of the game.
This marked the first time the Patriots had come back to win after trailing the Jets by 14 or more points since Week 11 in 1996.
Brady completed 20 of his 38 attempts for 257 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He broke the record for all-time regular-season wins with his 187th victory.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had been dealing with a thigh injury that forced him out of Week 5’s victory against the Buccaneers, caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. That gave Gronkowski 15 career games with two or more touchdown receptions, tying him for most in the league since 2010.
The game wasn’t without controversy. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score a touchdown that could’ve reduced the margin to three points. Patriots defenders jarred the ball loose, but from Seferian-Jenkins appeared to regain possession as he crossed the plane.
Officials reviewed the play after calling it a touchdown. Referee Tony Corrente then ruled that Seferian-Jenkins had fumbled the ball and lost possession all together, resulting in a touchback and possession for the Patriots.
Despite getting a much-needed divisional victory, New England’s flaws continued to be on display.
The Patriots became the first team in NFL history to allow six consecutive individual 300-yard passing games. All the more concerning was that the mark was set by Josh McCown, who threw for 354 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Next week, the Patriots host the Atlanta Falcons (3-2) in a Super Bowl LI rematch, while the Jets travel to Miami to face the Dolphins (3-2).