Following a much needed bye, the Patriots journeyed to the Meadowlands for our annual matchup with the hated Jets. Played on a lovely fall day, with yours truly in attendance, the Jets fans had subdued expectations from the start, as veteran journeyman Josh McCown filled in for the injured Sam Darnold. Of course, the Patriots have been known to struggle with backup QBs (see: super Bowl 52) and the Jets always play us feisty at home, so nothing was assured….
The Jets received the opening kick-off and immediately started driving, as McCown found a wide open Jermaine Kearse who made an impressive grab for 17 yards on 3rd and 7. The Jets would make it just shy of midfield before an untimely holding penalty disrupted their drive. The Patriots opening drive showed promise, with Brady finding Edelman for 36-yards to the NYJ40, before failing to gain another yard and stalling out.
Starting on their own 20, the Jets drove the length of the field in 9 plays, with McCown completing 3 passes for 18+ yards and getting a further boost from a roughing-the-passer penalty on Deatrich Wise. Elijah McGuire capped the drive with an 8 yard touchdown run, and the hometown fans were feeling obviously boisterous. Mercifully, Brady would soon shut them up.
The Patriots marched 85-yards in 5 plays, with Brady finding Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan for gains of 23 and 20 yards, respectively. After the Patriots reached the NYJ24, the Jets managed to force an incompletion on 3rd and 2, but Julian Edelman was flagged for OPI. The Jets, sensing an imminent 4th down attempt, elected to accept the penalty, which backfired spectacularly. Brady lobbed a beautiful pass down the middle to Gronk, who went up in double coverage to grab the 34-yard touchdown and knot the game at 7-7.
The Jets would continue to move the ball well on their next drive, as McCown was zipping the ball with abandon early, but the Patriots defense eventually stiffened across midfield, and the Jets were forced to punt from the NE42. Taking over, the Patriots continued to move the ball well gaining 47-yards on their drive featuring a well-balanced run/pass attack. Unfortunately, the Patriots waylaid themselves with a series of offensive penalties, the crux of which was a 15-yard chop block on David Andrews that proved too much to overcome.
The defense stepped up, however, and forced the Jets into a quick 3-and-out. The Patriots finally managed some more points on the board on their next drive, using their balanced attach to reach the NYJ16 before settling for 3. Following the Patriots’ score, McCown’s first pass to Quincy Enunwa went for 41 yards to the NE41, but Stephon Gilmore ended the scoring threat when he intercepted McCown’s next pass at the NE2. Pinned deep with under 2 minutes to go in the half, the Patriots only gained 8-yards and were forced to give the ball back with 51 seconds in the half. McCown capitalized finding Kearse for 16-yards to the NE37, and Jason Myers hit a 55-yard field to tie the game at 10 going in to the half. Backup QB or not, the Jets were proving feisty as ever.
The Patriots received the second-half kick-off and marched 76-yards in 15 plays, even as the offense continued to shoot itself in the foot with penalties. Sony Michel featured on the drive, busting a 31-yard run on the first play, and even hauling in a rare 8 yard reception. The Patriots continued to miss opportunities, however, with the drive stalling at the NYJ9 leading to a Gostkowski field goal and a 13-10 lead.
The Jets countered with a 12 play, 50-yard drive of their own, twice converting on 3rd down including a 10 yard McCown scramble on 3rd and 10. The Jets were unable to get any closer than the NE20, however, and Myers’ field goal re-evened the game at 13, with just over 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
Brady and the Patriots were done playing, and finally hit stride on the next drive. First Brady hit Hogan for 27 yards deep over the middle. Then James White scampered off right tackle for 27 more yards. Finally Brady hit Edelman wide open in the flat, who spun around, made a cut, and dove for the 21-yard touchdown. 4 plays, 75-yards, and just like that, the Patriots led 20-13. The Jets fans sighed, sensing the inevitable defeat.
Not content to go quietly, McCown immediately go the Jets back into Patriots territory with a 21-yard strike to Chris Herndon bringing the ball to the NE42. An untimely holding penalty sent the Jets back to their side of the field, and Wise ended the Jets drive when he further pummeled McCown for a sack on 3rd and long.
Following a touchback on the punt, the Patriots iced the game with a drive going the length of the field. Sony Michel had been running hard all day, and the dam finally burst. He gained 33 yards on the drive’s first play to get the Patriots into Jets territory. Following a pair of Brady passes to Gordon and Edelman for 17 and 18 yards, respectively Michel capped the 9-play drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run. Psych! After review, Sony Michel’s touchdown was narrowly overturned. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Sony Michel capped the 10-play drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run. Double Pysch!?!? Not quite – after another extensive review this touchdown stood, and the Patriots led 27-13. The Jets fans immediately headed for the exits, having lost all hope. A glorious sight indeed!
Well about half the fourth quarter still remained, so the resigned fans were definitely bailing early, but can you really blame them? McCown and the offense went 3-and-out, and the Jets were forced to punt. Belichick called off the dogs thereafter, with the Patriots conservatively went 3-and-out, but the game was already over, The Jets would string together one final hurrah, going 57-yards in 12 plays and reaching the NE4. But with less than 2 minutes remaining, McCown’s 4th down pass to Kearse fell hopelessly incomplete. One 24-yard James White run later and the Patriots were in victory formation and improved to 8-3.
Sony Michel’s return from injury powered the Patriots run game, in a sign of things to come, while Brady, Gordon, Gronk, and Edelman all had solid days in the air. Brady (79,280) passed Manning (79,279) for the most passing yards all time. The best part of the day was taking the train back to Manhattan afterwards, with all the salty Jets fans forced to languish in defeat.