The New England Patriots sit atop the AFC East for the first time this season thanks to a 24-17 victory over the New York Jets. And while the team did not play a perfect game it was able to make the plays when it mattered and hold onto the seven-point victory at the end. Let's recap the wild contest.
Prior to the game, the Patriots won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. New England's defense looked good early on its first drive by forcing New York into a 3rd and 10. However, in a sign of things to come, the Jets were able to convert – and subsequently drive down the field to take a 7-0 lead. On the way to the touchdown, the Jets were able to convert three more 3rd downs.
New England started its first offensive possession looking good as well. However, the team's first series stalled at the Jets' 41-yard line. A very good punt by Ryan Allen pinned New York at its own 4-yard line, though, and the defense also stepped up: The unit forced a three-and-out which resulted in the Patriots' offense starting its next possession at its 47-yard line.
The Patriots were unable to take advantage of the good field position, however, as Mike Gillislee lost a fumble at the Jets 22-yard line. The Jets then drove 78 yards in seven plays to expand their lead to 14 points. New England's offense answered with a three-and-out but the team's defense was able to force another punt to set up the offense on its own 7-yard line.
Despite starting deep in their own territory, the Patriots were able to drive 93 yards in nine plays to cut the deficit to seven points: A one-yard Dion Lewis scoring run and the ensuing extra point made it a 14-7 game. The temporary momentum shift continued as New England's defense was able to come up with another three-and-out. However, the team's positive strides did not last long.
New England's next possession ended with an interception: Tom Brady was targeting Phillip Dorsett deep but the Jets' Buster Skrine came away with the football. Luckily for the team, the team's defense delivered once again and forced a New York three-and-out. The offense moved the football into scoring distance on its next possession but failed to come away with points as a 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
The miss gave New York excellent field position but an interception by Malcolm Butler stopped the team's ensuing possession. With not even a minute left in the first half, the Patriots were able to drive 64 yards in 24 seconds, capped by a two-yard scoring pass from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gostkowski's extra point attempt was good and the game was suddenly tied at 14.
New England received the second half kickoff and was again able to move the football well: The team marched 75 yards in eight plays and ended the series with a 33-yard scoring pass from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski on 3rd and 11. After the big offensive play, the defense answered with a big play of its own as it ended the Jets' next series with its first takeaway of the game.
On a 4th and 1 attempt by the Jets, a corner blitz by Malcolm Butler forced an errant throw by quarterback Josh McCown. Safety Devin McCourty was there to catch it and the Patriots took over – and the pick into points: The offense's ensuing possession went 63 yards in 11 plays and ended with a 27-yard Gostkowski field goal to put the team ahead 24-14.
The home team was then able to drive into scoring distance. However, a bizarre officiating decision turned what was originally called a touchdown into a possession for the Patriots: Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass and headed towards the end zone. However, as he was being pushed towards the pylon, Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the football and did not regain it until he was through the endzone – at leas that was the officiating crew's decision.
The result of the call – a Jets fumble out of the endzone – was a touchback and the Patriots' gained possession of the football. Team team failed to take advantage, though, and quickly punted the ball back to the Jets. New York was then able to make it a one-score game again thanks to a field goal drive.
With 3:40 left on the game clock, New England's offense was in a position to potentially ice the game against a Jets team that had only one timeout left. The unit was unable to deliver, however, and again had to settle for a punt. This forced the Patriots' defense to get the stop to end the contest – and it did. After giving up a fourth down early in the drive, the second one was not converted as McCown's desperation pass fell incomplete.
All that was left for the Patriots to do was kneel down to secure the 11th straight road win – and the fourth of the season.