The New England Patriots needed someone to step up on offense. QB Tom Brady was seriously limited by his knee injury. TE Rob Gronkowski was out with a back injury. TE Martellus Bennett was battling an ankle injury. WR Julian Edelman and WR Chris Hogan were dealing with foot and back injuries, respectively.
Enter rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell.
After scoring a touchdown in the second quarter, Mitchell followed that up with an 8-yard score to take a 22-17 lead with 1:56 left in the game. Mitchell finished the game with 5 catches for 42 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Patriots only had one drive in the third quarter- a field goal from the 11 yard line- and then punted their next drive, but Brady dug deep in the fourth quarter to come back from a 17-13 deficit to win the game.
Other than the continued growth of Mitchell, the story of the second half belongs to the defense. The Patriots allowed just 7 points after Jets WR Quincy Enunwa made an incredible grab to land on his butt in the corner of the end zone. When you remove the touchdown drive, the Patriots defense allowed just 51 yards on the other five drives.
The Jets received the opening kick off of the second half with the score tied at 10-10 and the Patriots forced them to punt on a 3-and-out.
Brady and the offense drove down to the Jets 11-yard line, thanks to a neutral zone infraction by Jets DT Muhammad Wilkerson on 4th and 1 that granted the Patriots an automatic first down. But without Gronkowski and with Bennett hobbled, Brady struggled to connect with his targets in the red zone. The Patriots settled for a field goal and a 13-10 lead.
The Jets picked up 22 yards on their next drive, thanks to two third down conversions, but the Patriots forced a punt at midfield. While the Patriots were unable to do anything with the football after they were pinned deep, P Ryan Allen had a heckuva day and sent the Jets back to their own 27-yard line.
Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick picked apart the Patriots secondary, with completions to five different receivers, including a tight end. The Jets had 4 completions to tight ends all season, before completing 3 on Sunday. Enunwa capped off the drive with his buttgrab and a 17-13 Jets lead.
Brady immediately went back to work on the subsequent drive and found Mitchell on a 13-yard slant, which seems to be the rookie’s bread and butter. Brady found Hogan for 23 yards to get into Jets territory, but was unable to move much further as the Patriots had to settle for a 41-yard field goal attempt. Fortunately, K Stephen Gostkowski was able to connect as the Patriots still trailed 17-16.
Gostkowski and the special teams unit pinned the Jets deep on their 8 yard line on the ensuing kickoff and the defense held strong, as the Jets had to punt from their own 30-yard line.
Brady and the Patriots offense got the ball back with 5:04 left on the clock, needing a score to win the game. Brady found Edelman for 24 yards, RB Dion Lewis for 16, Hogan for 25, and then capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown to Mitchell. Both of Mitchell’s scores came against CB Darrelle Revis.
Unfortunately, the Patriots were unable to add the two-point conversion because RB James White was holding the football in the wrong arm as he crossed the goalline.
So the Patriots defense took the field, nursing a 22-17 lead with 1:56 left on the clock.
And ED Chris Long promptly forced a fumble and ED Trey Flowers recovered it. The defense saved the game in the second half as the offense stalled in the red zone.
RB LeGarrette Blount ran out the clock and sat down on the 23 yard line. It seems like he’s finished the past three games on the goal line without a score. Brady kneeled out the rest of the clock to secure the 22-17 victory.
Brady finished the day 30 of 50 (60.0%) for 286 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He is now 13-7 when asked to throw 50+ attempts, and is the only quarterback with 10+ such games with a winning record. Brady has also recorded his 200th career win, tying Peyton Manning for the most all time.
Blount finished the day with 67 yards on 11 carries. Lewis added 58 total yards on 10 touches. Edelman recorded 83 yards, while Hogan added 70 yards.
The Patriots defense struggled to contain Jets wide receivers as Quincy Enunwa collected all 5 of his targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Marshall added 6 catches for 67 yards and a score. CB Malcolm Butler had his worst outing of the season.
The Patriots run defense continued to stand out, as they limited Matt Forte to 27 yards on 13 carries (2.1 yards per carry).
The Patriots are now 9-2, securing a winning record for the 16th straight season. They have tied the 1965-80 Raiders and the 1983-98 49ers, and now only trail the 1966-85 Cowboys for most consecutive winning seasons.
The Patriots host the Rams in week 13.