Patriots Force Four Turnovers, Hang On To Top Jets, 13-10
Just four days removed from their season-opening win in Buffalo, the Patriots kicked off their home season against the always confident Jets. In one of the more ugly games in recent memory – not helped by the torrential downpours coming down in the second half – the Patriots rode three forced turnovers from Aqib Talib to survive the Jets’ attack and improve to 2-0 with a 13-10 victory.
After electing not to practice during the short week, all looked fine at the beginning as Tom Brady provided the team with a 39-yard Aaron Dobson touchdown catch to open the game. In the tight formation, Brady executed a perfect play fake and lobbed the ball to the wide-open Dobson, but then the offense stalled as they did on Sunday and Brady began showing his frustration with his group of young receivers. It was far from pretty, but a late interception from Geno Smith, the Jets’ fourth turnover of the game, gave the Patriots their second win of the season by a combined five points.
Brady threw for just 185 yards on 19-of-39 passing as his young group of receivers frustrated him with mistimed route running and more than a few drops on the night. Smith had chances to put his team ahead in the fourth, but the Patriots’ D held on for the three-point win.
The Jets outgained New England by 86 yards, out-passing and out-rushing them, but the Pats committed no turnovers to New York’s four and won their 12th straight division game. The Patriots also benefited from an overturned touchdown call in the first half, when it was ruled that Clyde Gates did not fully have possession of the ball as he came down in the end zone following a scramble from Smith.
“The conditions weren’t great,” said Bill Belichick after the game, but, as always, the coach was pleased with the outcome and the way the guys battled.
The score stood at 13-3 at halftime as Stephen Gostkowski pulled a field goal attempt wide while time expired on the first half, capping an ugly 30 minutes of football that would not get much better in the third quarter. Like last week, the team had a chance to extend the lead and failed to stick the dagger in the Jets. Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins combined for just five receptions on 17 targets on the night, and it wasn’t long before the rookie wearing No. 17 earned himself the nickname ‘Dropson.’
“They’re trying hard and they work really hard; they’re great kids [and] we just got to keep battling,” said Brady after the game. “I think were going to learn from this one. These games aren’t easy; it’s hard to win against division opponents. Just keep fighting,” he added. It is clear that they do need to continue working as Brady had almost no connect with any of his young receivers, though he did hit Julian Edelman 13 times – a new career-high for him. None were bigger than his reception on third-and-five with three minutes left to keep the clock running and the ball out of the hands of the dangerous Smith.
A three-yard rushing touchdown from Blial Powell in the third got the Jets within three at the end of the quarter. Smith then proceeded to throw three interceptions – two to Talib and one horribly underthrown pass picked off by Alfonzo Dennard. The first pick from Talib came in the red zone with the Jets threatening and was a bit lucky as it deflected off the receiver.
The score remained 13-10 for the duration of the fourth quarter and as Ryan Allen entered the game with just over a minute left for his team-record 11th punt of the night, another late Jets comeback certainly seemed plausible. His 514 yards also tied a franchise record. Smith would throw his third pick, however, and Talib, feeling the need to return it, ignited a bit of a scuffle near the Patriots’ sideline, resulting in the ejections of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon as well as multiple penalties.
But, despite 11 punts – their most since 2003 against the Dolphins – the Pats are 2-0 and 2-0 in the division. Edelman had just 78 receiving yards and Stevan Ridley carried the ball 16 times for 40 yards. The touchdown pass to Dobson in the first marked the 50th straight game in which Brady has thrown one – four shy of the all-time record. He also improved to 6-0 all-time in games played on Thursdays.
Smith became the first Jets quarterback to throw three interceptions in a fourth quarter since 1992. Without those mistakes, it may very well have been a different game.
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