Patriots Beat Jets in OT Thriller

For the second time in two weeks the New England Patriots held a lead late in the game but unlike last week the Patriots made enough plays to hang on and beat the New York Jets in overtime 29-26.

The Patriots lead 23-13 going into the 4th quarter before the Jets’ offense started to show signs of life by scoring 13 straight 4th quarter points when Mark Sanchez connected with tight end Dustin Keller on a 7-yard touchdown pass to pull within a field goal. With the Jets trailing 23-20 the magic number for the rest of regulation was 43. The Jets tied the game and then took the lead 26-23 on a pair of 43 yard field goals by Nick Folk. If rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill doesn’t drop a ball when he was wide open, a touchdown may have been the difference between a win and a loss.

“You have to give New England a ton of credit,” Jets head Coach Rex Ryan said. “That’s a heck of a football team. We made too many mistakes to beat them. I will say, I’m proud of my team. We had an opportunity to win the game and unfortunately didn’t get it done. But we kept fighting. This is a tough place to play, a tough opponent to play and we were right there.”

But with 1:37 left in regulation Tom Brady marched the Patriots down the field to get in position for Stephen Gostkowski to kick a 43 yard field goal to send the game into modified sudden death, tied 26-26.

The Patriots received the ball in overtime and went 12 plays for 54 yards until Gostkowski nailed a 48-yarder to give the Patriots the overtime lead 29-26. But with the new modified overtime the Jets were guaranteed a possession to either tie it up or score a touchdown to win it. But on the Jets first possession Mark Sanchez was strip-sacked by Linebacker Rob Ninkovich and the ball was recovered by New England to seal the victory.

“It stings, it just really stings,” Sanchez said. “We played hard throughout the whole game. We had some real opportunities down in the red zone. We said it earlier in the week — you can’t kick field goals against this team. You have to get 7 points and we came up short a couple of times and missed some opportunities.”

Mark Sanchez arguably had his best day as a pro, as he completed 26-for-42 passes for 328-yards. The Jets outgained the Patriots 403-381, just the second time they’ve done so in the last 18 meetings. But it wasn’t enough to get the job done as the Jets now have to regroup for another divisional game at home against the Miami Dolphins.

“We’re going to go toe-to-toe with anybody,” Ryan said. “Confidence or not, we’ve got confidence in ourselves. Maybe the outside world will have more confidence in us, but we have plenty of confidence in ourselves.”

For New England, the game meant finishing strong down the stretch, something they’ve struggled with all year when the games are close.

“We talked about playing 60 minutes and it took a little bit more than that today but the players did a good job,”Belichick said. “They really fought hard, we had our ups and downs and in the end, we just made enough plays to win and that’s what it’s all about. We got good contributions from all three units. We just have to keep working harder to get better, to do things better and eliminate a few of the mistakes we had.”

After the Jets struck first with a Shonn Greene touchdown to go up 7-0, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourtney took the kickoff 104 for a touchdown to knot it up at 7-7. Then took the lead 14-7 on Brady’s 17-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski and then connected again in the 3rd-quarter from 2-yards out to take a 23-13 lead before the Jets mounted their comeback. The Patriots have struggled this season in the fourth-quarter and can’t seem to close out their opponents like in the past.

“I think that’s it: it comes down to a few plays,” Brady said. “We had opportunities last week. We had opportunities against Baltimore. We had opportunities against the Cardinals. When you make the plays, you win the game. We’re 4-3; we’re in a decent position. We have the whole season ahead of us. We’ve been fighting injuries, like every team has.”

Brady was 26-for-42 for 256-yards and two touchdowns, both to Gronkowski who reeled in six receptions for 78-yards and caught both of Brady’s touchdowns.

The Patriots travel across the Atlantic to take on the St. Louis Rams in London’s Wembley Stadium before their bye week.

Game Notes:

-          Shonn Greene left the game in the 4th-quarter with a head injury and will be evaluated this week.

-          Devin McCourtney’s 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the second longest in team history.

-          In his past three games at NE (including postseason), Sanchez has passed for 688 yards with 6 TDs, 1 INT and a 104.8 rating.  He completed six passes for 20 or more yards against the Patriots.

-          The Patriots are 6-0 when wearing their Throwback Uniforms at home.

-          Nick Folk, who already holds the franchise distance record with his 56-yard FG at Denver in 2010 and had that 58-yarder at Philadelphia to end this preseason, now is tied for the sixth-longest FG in franchise history with his 54-yarder

-          The Patriots recorded their first safety since 2006.

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