Ryan L. Fox
Sometimes the toughest games that are played are against opponents that know you the best. After getting some time off with Thanksgiving, the New England Patriots set out on the road to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to take on the one opponent that always have given them fits in the past: the New York Jets.
Interestingly enough, Tom Brady’s career record against the Jets is 22-7, including 10-4 down in East Rutherford, New Jersey. However with the recent struggles and inconsistencies of the defense and the given track record of how the Jets defense fared against Brady in the past, this would not be an easy game to play.
The Jets won the toss and decided to defer to the second half. Patriot’s first possession started at the 20 yard line. Their first drive stalled out as they were forced to punt to the Jets, pinning them on their own 26. However the Pats defense started to get exposed like they did with San Francisco last week, allowing the Jets to gash them for a couple of long pass plays. However the Pats defense was able to force a stop, making the Jets settle for a 51-yard field goal by Nick Folk to take an early 3-0 lead.
After a series of punts by both teams, the Jets got the ball back on their own 21-yard line with 4:42 left in the first quarter. They then proceeded to drive down the field, highlighted by a 40-yard throw from Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to WR Quincy Enunwa on 2nd and short from their own 30-yard line. The Jets dove to the Pats 1 before the first quarter ran out. Then on the very first play in the second quarter, Fitzpatrick threw a short pass to WR Brandon Marshall and Folk made the extra point to give the Jets a shocking 10-0 early lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Pats started on their own 25-yard line to begin their first possession of the second quarter. They were able to move the ball all the way to the Jets 39 yard line on a series of quick passes by Brady, who only had one pass over 10 yards on that drive (a 12-yard pass to TE-Martellus Bennet from their 25 to the 37). Then on 1st and 10 from the Jets 39, Jets DB Darryl Roberts seemingly broke up a Brady pass to WR Chris Hogan, but it turned out it was a pass interference and gave the Pats 1st and goal on the Jets 8. However the Jets defense held their ground and the Pats had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski to cut into the Jets’ lead, 10-3.
On the Jets’ next possession, Fitzpatrick was able to hook up with rookie WR Robby Anderson for a 25 yard pass to midfield. However Robby fumbled the football and it was recovered by Pats DB Malcolm Butler, giving his team excellent field position. From there, Brady led the charge down the field to the Jets 4 yard line. There, he was able to find rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell for a 4-yard dart and with the ensuing point after, tied the game up 10-10. This was the second consecutive game with a touchdown for Malcolm Mitchell as he had a 56-yard touchdown reception in last week’s contest against the san Francisco 49ers.
The defense then made another big play late in the second quarter before the two minute warning as DT Alan Branch ended up blocking what would have been the go-ahead field goal for the New York Jets. Teammate LB Dontae Hightower recovered the ball on the Pats 40 and returned it to the 46 yard line. From there, the team drove all the way down to the Jets 21. However with 6 seconds left in the half, Gostkowski ended up missing wide left from 39 yards out as the half ended with a 10-10 tie.
Tom Brady looked a little out of shorts, going 15-for-25 (60.0 % completion) with 117 yards and one touchdown. The Patriots running game, which was 6th in the league for 118.3 ypg was held to only 35 yards total (18 yards to RB LeGarrette Blount & 17 yards to Dion Lewis) while WR Julian Edelman led all Pats receivers with 4 catches on 5 targets for 35 yards, all team highs. Surprisingly enough, TE Rob Gronkowski was targeted only twice and had no catches. However he ended up leaving the game with less than 3 minutes left in the second quarter and did not return for the remainder of the game.
The Jets began the second half with the ball as they got as far as their 27 before punting the football away. The Pats got the ball back on their 31 and began their first drive of the second half. A couple of passes by Brady mixed in with an 18-yard run by Blount and the Pats moved the ball down to the Jets 18. Then on 4th and 1, Brady drew the Jets defense offside and got a first down at the Jets 13. However they were only able to move the ball to the 11 yard line before settling for a 29-yard field goal by Gostkowski to give them a 13-10 lead.
The Jets tried to answer back on their ensuing possession but only were able to get it to their 47 yard line before punting the ball away. The Pats then drove from their 12 yard line to their 22 before finishing up the third quarter with a 4 yard pass from Brady to RB Dion Lewis to their 26 yard line.
The Pats then opened up the 4th quarter with punting the football away to the Jets 27. There, Fitzpatrick was able to carve up the Pats secondary, going 4-for-4 for 46 yards before tossing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Enunwa to give the Jets a 17-13 lead. The Pats then responded back with a 8-play, 53 yard drive that ended with a Gostkowski 41-yard field goal as the Jets lead shrunk to 1 point, 17-16.
The Jets got the ball back and started their next drive on their 8 yard line. It seemed like they would drive to another score after Fitzpatrick completed two passes and drove them to their 37 yard line. But then on 2nd down, Fitzpatrick committed a costly intentional grounding penalty and the Jets stalled out, punting the ball to the Patriots 27. Pats PR Danny Amendola returned the ball to the Pats 42 but the play was called back due to a holding penalty, forcing the Pats to start at their own 17 down 1 point with a little over 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
But that ended up being too much time as Brady drove the Pats down the field with two long passes to Edelman and Lewis. Then on a crucial 4th and 4 from the Jets 37, Brady completed a short 4-yard pass to RB James White for a first down and extend the drive further. Brady then completed a 25-yard strike to WR Chris Hogan, driving the ball down to the Jets 8-yard line before the two-minute warning. Then right after the two minute warning, Brady threw an 8-yard strike to Mitchell for the rookie’s second touchdown of the game, pushing the score to 22-17. However on the ensuing two-point conversion, James White couldn’t break the plan and the score still stood 22-17.
The Jets had one last gasp as they got the ball back with 1:56 remaining on the clock and the ball on their 25. But then on 2nd and 5 from their own 30, Fitzpatrick was sacked by DE Chris Long and the ball was stripped from the Jets QB. Long’s teammate, DE Trey Flowers, recovered the fumble and that all but sealed the game for the Patriots.
For the Pats, Julian Edelman again led all receivers in targets (11) and catches (8) as well as yards (83). However rookie and newcomer WR Malcolm Mitchell who stole the show from Edelman with his two TD catches, both against Jets DB Darrelle Revis. On the ground, LeGarrette Blount led his team as well as all rushers in the game with 67 yards on 11 carries (6.1 ypc).
As for Tom Brady, he finished the game for 30-of-50 for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns for a QB rating of 89.3. This was the 20th game in the regular season where Brady threw 50 attempts or more in a single game. The last game where Brady threw 50+ passes was back in a 35-28 home loss in Week 12 of last year against the Philadelphia Eagles (Brady went 29-for-56 for 312 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs). The last road game that Brady threw for over 50 attempts was against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 of last year in Orchard Park in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York (Brady went 38-for-59 for 466 yards and 3 TDs during that game).
This victory also marked the 200th victory (combined regular and postseason) of Tom Brady’s illustrious career, cementing his place even further in Canton, Ohio.
The next game for the Patriots is a Week 12 1:00 p.m. showdown against the Los Angeles Rams (4-7) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
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