The New England Patriots entered their bye week feeling the acute sting of a 34-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Coming into Sunday’s game versus the New York Jets, the Pats looked to avoid something that the franchise has not experienced since 2015: their second two-game losing streak of the season.
Despite some early sputters, the Pats put together a solid effort and departed East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium with a 27-13 victory over their AFC East divisional rival.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and after going 20 of 31 for 283 yards in the victory. Brady had tossed just one touchdown in his previous three games, leading some to question whether the 41-year old signal caller had reached the end of the line. However, he proved that he still has more than enough left in the tank, connecting with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on the scoring strikes. Running back Sony Michel ran for a season-best 133 yards and a touchdown.
Much like Brady, Gronkowski also had some delusional and attention-seeking critics to silence. Earlier in the week, he had been compared to everyone’s favorite deceased boss, Bernie Lomax (from the 1989 comedy ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’) after missing the two previous games with back and ankle injuries. However, the Pats’ tight end showed the he is still not ready for the pasture. While he has yet to peak this season, Gronkowski had three catches for 56 yards and a strong, athletic grab for the score.
As for the Jets, they have lost five straight for the first time since the 2014. Starting for the injured Sam Darnold, Jets backup Josh McCown was 26 of 45 for 276 yards and a touchdown to Jermaine Kearse, as well as one interception.
The Jets struck first on McCown’s 16-yard pass to Kearse, who made a nice move on Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones before zipping into the end zone. It was the first touchdown of the season for both McCown and Kearse. The strike gave the Jets a 7-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots came right back to tie it on their next possession, capped by Brady’s 34-yard pass to Gronkowski with 1:11 remaining in the first quarter. The score could be referenced as the touchdown that almost wasn’t. Pats running back James White was called for offensive pass interference on third-and-2 from the Jets 24. Rather than take the down, Jets head coach Todd Bowles took the penalty. In a decision Bowles would regret, Brady fired a strike to Gronkowski on third-and-12.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 34-yard field goal with 2:27 left in the first half put the Patriots up 10-7. New York’s Jason Myers tied it at 10 with 3 seconds remaining in the opening half. Myers continued his amazing season by making the 55-yarder — and setting an NFL record with five field goals of 55 yards or longer in one season. After a 32-yarder by Gostkowski to open the second half, Myers’ 38-yarder tied it again for the Jets at 13 late in the third quarter.
While the Jets would fail to light the scoreboard again in this Week 12 contest, the Patriots were just getting started.
Brady connected with Edelman for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Patriots ahead 20-13 with 1:52 left in the third quarter. The drive opened with a 27-yard reception by Chris Hogan, followed by a 27-yard run by James White. After White was stopped for no gain, Brady found a wide-open Edelman, who ran through a tackle attempt by Jamal Adams and got into the end zone.
After battling back from a back injury (which NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran likened to ‘medieval torture’) Sony Michel added a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:54 left in the fourth quarter. The score put the Patriots up 27-13, which would be the eventual final.
New England has won five straight in the series against New York and eight of the past nine. They stand at 8-3 on the season, and improve to 3-3 on the road.
- Tom Brady became the NFL’s career leader in total yards passing in combined regular-season and playoff games. Brady also reached 3,000 yards passing for the 16th straight season, tying Peyton Manning for second in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s 18. Brady surpassed the mark early in the fourth quarter with a 17-yard completion to a diving Josh Gordon. Brady currently has 79,416 career passing yards.
- With the victory on Sunday, the Patriots clinched their 18th straight season with a .500 record or better. That ranks second in NFL history to only Dallas, which had 21 in a row from 1965-85.
- This game marked the NFL’s second-oldest QB combo at 80 years, 258 days with 41-year-old Brady going for New England. Only Carolina’s Vinny Testaverde (44) and Green Bay’s Brett Favre (38) in 2007 are an older combination at 82 years, 44 days old.
(Statistics provided by Associated Press)
The Patriots return home to take on the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at 4:25pm at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC