It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win. And the Patriots were in desperate need for one of those. Especially one that came down to the wire, considering their three losses this year were by a combined four points.
The Patriots led 23-13 heading into the fourth quarter, and were driving as that period began. But that drive stalled, and the Patriots, for a second straight week, surrendered a two-score fourth quarter lead. In a period of just over four minutes, the Patriots surrendered 13 unanswered points to the Jets. It was all too familiar and a theme of the season. There was a collective sinking feeling across Patriot nation as Devin McCourty fumbled a kick-off with the score tied and just over two minutes left in the game.
But from that point on, the Patriots finally played like the Patriots we're used to seeing in the fourth quarter of games. The defense stiffened, and held the Jets without a first down following a Dont'a Hightower third down sack. The Jets got the field goal to take the 26-23 lead, but that stand gave Tom Brady and the offense just about 90 seconds to go down the field and tie it back up.
And Brady did just that. Tom led the Patriots straight down the field - opening the drive with two first down completions to Rob Gronkowski, then hitting Danny Woodhead on back to back throws to put the Patriots in reasonable field goal position. Stephen Gostkowski helped erase the demons of his week two shank on the game winning attempt, hitting the field goal to bring the game to overtime.
The Patriots got the ball to start the extra period, and moved straight down the field, keyed by a pair of first down catches by receiver Wes Welker. Stephen Gostkowski capped off the drive with a 48 yard field goal to give the Patriots a 29-26 advantage.
Of course, because of the new overtime rules, the Jets would have a chance to match the Patriots score. They picked up a pair of first downs, before Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich brought down Mark Sanchez on a strip sack that was recovered by the Patriots to seal the victory.
The defensive play was the exclamation point on an ugly win, but a win the Patriots needed. The Patriots weren't sharp in any phase today, they surrendered another late lead, didn't look as emotionally invested as the Jets - yet came through with the clutch win that they needed.
I don't know what is going to be needed to spark this team. Perhaps today's win will do it. It's obvious the Patriots have a long way to go, but it's just nice to see them get a win when a game came down to the wire.
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