Call it what you want, the Jets latest setback, 30-21 to the Patriots in New England, has got them in critical mode. The team is 2-3 on the year, they have dropped three straight, and trail both the Bills and Pats in the division at 4-1.
Sunday the Jets sputtered to 31 yards of offense in the first quarter and the tired defense failed to stop the Patriots down the stretch.
“Against New England you’ve got to get off the field. They did a great job sustaining drives,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “You make mistakes against that football team and they absolutely kill you. And they don’t need any help with the offense that they have. You can’t make mistakes. We made just enough of them to help (them).”
Tom Brady completed 24-of-33 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown with an interception for the Patriots. Wes Welker caught five passes for 124 yards, helping New England post at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular season game, one off the NFL record 14 by St. Louis (1999-2000).
“I thought we could have done a lot better offensively but we got the win,” Brady said. “We did a decent job but I think we left a lot of points out there.”
The Jets also couldn’t stop the Pats run game, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a career-high 136 yards with two touchdowns in the nine-point win.
Mark Sanchez tallied 166 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-26 passes for New York, which beat the Patriots in the playoffs in the previous meeting.
Shonn Greene carried the ball 21 times for 83 yards and a score, while Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley each caught TD passes.
An 11-play, 85-yard drive by the Jets was capped by a 21-yard Holmes catch for a touchdown, pulling New York within 27-21 with 7:14 remaining. Holmes’ 19- yard catch on the third play of the march keyed the drive.
But the Jets would not have possession again until there was 1:02 left in the game as the Patriots ran more than six minutes off the clock with a 69-yard drive resulting in a 28-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Sanchez drove the Jets to the New England 49 before a sack ended the game.
“We’re searching and we’ll find the answer,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said about the loss. “We’ve got a long way to go. Nobody said it would be easy.”
After swapping punts for the first three possessions of the game, New England took over on offense at its own 36. Brady found Welker for a 32-yard reception to get into Jets’ territory and Green-Ellis powered in for a three-yard touchdown four plays later for a 7-0 lead.
Neither team was able to drive into the other’s territory again until the Patriots started their first possession of the second-quarter at the New York 44 after an unnecessary roughing penalty during a punt return.
The Patriots would only manage one first down, however, and Gostkowski nailed a 44-yard field goal with 11:15 left in the half.
The Jets did not manage to move the chains until Sanchez’s 19-yard completion to Plaxico Burress on the second play of the ensuing drive. Greene then totaled 33 yards on six rushes and a catch before rumbling into the end zone from three yards out to make it a 10-7 game.
The Patriots took over with 3:17 left in the half and drove all the way down to the Jets 11, but Brady’s pass in the closing seconds bounced off the hands of Aaron Hernandez in the end zone and right to Antonio Cromartie. It was Brady’s first career red zone interception at home in his career.
Brady hit Welker for a 73-yard gain on the first play of the second half to give New England the ball at the New York seven-yard line. Two plays later, Brady made a scrambling throw to Deion Branch, who had to go to the ground to make the catch and the ball was knocked out as he went to get up. The Jets recovered the ball, but the play was overturned after a review and the Patriots kept possession.
Brady found Branch for a two-yard TD on the next play, giving the Patriots a 17-7 lead.
Joe McKnight then took the kickoff deep in the end zone and returned it up the middle for 88 yards to the New England 20. Three plays later, Kerley’s nine- yard touchdown catch quickly made it a three-point game again.
Each team was forced to a pair of punts before Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 17-yard gain on a 3rd-and-13 on the Patriots’ 20. Hernandez pulled down a 21- yard catch on the next play and Green-Ellis capped the 11-play drive with a three-yard score to put New England ahead 24-14.
The Jets were held to another quick punt from deep inside their territory and Welker returned the kick to the New York 25. But New England was held to a 24- yard Gostkowski field goal.