*Updated, 9:32 p.m. ET
*The Jets may have come into this game five games behind New England in the AFC East standings and the NFL may have flexed it from a Sunday night start to a 4:25 kickoff. But the Green & White put up a strong fight against one of the league's elites for a little more than 58 minutes.
The Jets took the early 10-0 lead, then moved back ahead, 17-13, with 10:17 to play on a Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-Quincy Enunwa pass that was inbounds by a backside. But the Patriots rebounded as they have many times against the Jets and the NFL with Tom Brady's second touchdown pass of the day and a costly strip-sack of Fitzpatrick to secure the 22-17 victory.
"They made one more play than we did. We've got to find a way to finish," head coach Todd Bowles said. "This is the latest loss but they all hurt the same."
Even though the Jets again played the Pats closely at MetLife Stadium, they lost for the fourth time in their last eight home games vs. the division kingpins to fall to 3-8 while the Patriots rose to 9-2.
Here are 10 observations on key points as the game unfolded.
1. First-Strike Folk
After Todd Bowles won his third replay challenge of the season to turn a Patriots third-down conversion into fourth-and-1, the Jets moved 41 yards into New England territory before stalling. On came Nick Folk for an early 51-yard field goal and Nick hit it long and true for the 3-0 lead. It was Folk's 17th career 50-yarder as a Jet, his third vs. the Patriots, and his first since nailing a 55-yarder at Foxboro last year.
2. Then It Was TenThe fans started out a little sluggish but they got into the swing of things as the Green & White drove 79 yards to Fitzpatrick's 1-yard slingshot to Brandon Marshall leaping over Malcolm Butler in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter. It was Brandon's first TD catch in six games and the 10-0 lead was the Jets' largest first-half lead at home vs. the Patriots since 2001. In that game they opened a 13-0 second-quarter lead en route to a 17-16 loss in Brady's first career start vs. the Jets, which should tell everyone there's a lot of game to go in this one.
"I don't know that there was more energy," said Fitzpatrick, who completed 22 of 32 for 269 yards. "I thought we had more confidence, especially as the game was going. I felt that in our huddle especially."
3. Red-Hot in Red ZoneThe Jets' red zone defense apparently is on a roll. After the Patriots got a first-and-goal at the 8 on Darryl Roberts' pass interference against WR Malcolm Mitchell, the "D" applied the heat and forced Brady & Co. to settle for a Stephen Gostkowski field goal to cut the Jets' lead to 10-3. It was the defense's seventh straight RZ series without yielding a TD since midway through the Miami game.
4. Robby Turns It OverFitzpatrick rolled out and found Robby Anderson on a very nice improvised play ... until Robby tried to gain some YAC, held the ball too loosely, and Butler punched it out and recovered the fumble at midfield. In short order, the visitors wiped out the rest of the hosts' lead, plus their red zone TD-less streak, when Brady found Mitchell in the back of the end zone past Darrelle Revis for a 4-yard score and a 10-10 tie.
Top Images from the Week 12 Matchup in MetLife Stadium
5. Go-Ahead Kick Nicked
The Jets tried to retake the lead before the two-minute warning on a 54-yard Folk field goal try. But the Pats seem to know what they need to do on the long-range Folk tries. Chris Jones blocked a 58-yarder and Vince Wilfork a 52-yarder in 2014, and on this one Alan Branch swatted down Folk's kick and the Pats took over at their 46. But the field goal gods returned the favor when Gostkowski's 39-yarder with 2 seconds to play sailed wide left and the teams went in for intermission tied at 10.
6. Breaking the Tie
The Jets red zone defense had its streak busted on the Brady-to-Mitchell TD pass but still had something in the tank for its eighth TD-less stop in the opponents' last nine RZ drives. Gostkowski converted from 29 yards out and the Patriots took their first lead of the game at 13-10 halfway midway the third quarter.
7. Offensive Doldrums
Fitzpatrick didn't let his left-knee brace slow him down on a third-and-2 keeper for a first down. But the Jets just missed a big downfield play when RB C.J. Spiller, possibly hit down low by LB Kyle Van Noy diving at his feet in coverage, couldn't hold a longball. The Jets, having gained only 34 third-quarter yards, turned it back over to the Patriots at their 12 after a strong Lachlan Edwards punt, but this situation was similar to the Patriots being played close by the Niners last week until a TD drive that culminated on the first play of the fourth quarter. If the Jets were going to stay in this one, this is was a key series.
8. Survive...then Drive
The first play of this fourth quarter was a Brady overthrow for Chris Hogan with Revis in coverage. Then the Jets took over needing another of those Fitzpatrick 70-yards-plus drives — and they got it, thanks to Quincy Enunwa getting his foot and his behind down in the right corner of the East end zone over Butler for Fitzpatrick's second scoring pass of the game and the TD to put the Jets ahead, 17-13, with 10:17 to play. The call was made only after Bowles' second successful challenge of the game. Drive stats: eight plays, 73 yards, 4:32, for Fitz's 10th 70-yard drive in his last three games.
"When I caught the ball I wasn't too sure, just because I wasn't expecting the ball in the first place," said Enunwa, who also rang up the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. "It was one of those things where I turned around, looked up, and as soon as I saw the replay, I knew, there was no doubt in my mind that that was a catch."
9. Patriots Respond
You knew the Patriots weren't going to be easily denied. They moved to Gostkowski's third field goal, from 41 yards out with 7:02 to play to slice the lead to 17-16. Then the Jets offense was stopped and punted, and the Pats took over at their 17 with 5:04 to play. Brady converted a fourth-and-4 with a 4-yard completion to RB James White, then got the TD on a rope to Mitchell for his second score with 1:56 left.
The Pats went for two and White took a Brady toss wide left and got the call despite Marcus Gilchrist's late shove. Or did he? After the booth challenge, ref Brad Allen announced for the third time that a call was overturned in the Jets' favor, with the ball not breaking the plane as White stepped out. They trailed only 22-17 and had 1:56 to try to pull it out with a late touchdown.
10. The Endgame
Fitzpatrick's second play from scrimmage was the final nail in the Jets' coffin in this one. After going 58 minutes without a miscue, he was sacked from behind by DE Chris Long coming off the Jets' left end, fumbled forward, and the ball was recovered by Trey Flowers at the Jets 34. After LeGarrette Blount's 23-yard burst to the 3 and the Jets calling their final timeout, Brady kneeled three times to secure the Green and White's agonizing fall-from-ahead loss.
"We've just got to keep working hard," DE Muhammad Wilkerson said as the Jets started to shift into MNF mode for the home game against the Colts a week from Monday. "We can't break up as a team. Right about know, everybody wants us to be negative and point the finger at each other, but we can't do that. We've got to stay together and finish this thing out."