The Jets players were insistent that the green team that showed up at MetLife Stadium in its loss to Buffalo two weeks ago was not the team they are this season. But action would speak louder than words against another AFC East foe at home today.
For most of the way, the Jets did show that they had rebounded from their Bills debacle against division-leading New England. But after the hosts drew to a 13-13 tie late in the third quarter, the visitors pulled away with a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives.
As a result, the Jets' 27-13 loss to the Patriots was their fifth straight defeat to drop to 3-8 on the season. And the close battle they gave their longtime rivals was no solace as the defense yielded 498 yards, had no sacks of Tom Brady and forced no turnovers. Meanwhile, the offense, with Josh McCown at QB for the second game in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, generated 338 yards but could seal the deal with a touchdown only once, on a second-drive pass to Jermaine Kearse.
Here are nine chronological takeaways from the Jets' loss to the Patriots at MetLife:
1. Quick Start
It didn't come on their first series, but McCown and the offense's second drive was highly productive, producing a 16-yard strike to Kearse for his first receiving TD of the season and McCown's first passing score. It also went nine plays for 80 yards, the Green & White's first 80-yard drive since Game 7 vs. Minnesota. And it produced the Jets' first lead in five games and 17 quarters at 7-0 with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
2. Quick Answer
The Patriots wasted no time in answering back, moving 85 yards on five plays on their second drive. The big chunk came on the last play, a Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski 34-yard strike on third-and-12 after the Jets accepted an offensive pass interference on third-and-2 to push the Pats back. It was Brady's 52nd career touchdown pass against the Jets and Gronk's ninth career scoring catch vs. the Green & White and it tied things up at 7-7 with 1:11 to play in the opening frame.
3. Penalty Yards, Scrimmage Yards
The Patriots opened the game with quite a few yellow flags — ref Shawn Hochuli's crew hit them eight times for infractions in the first half with seven being marked off for 75 yards and they finished with 11 for 105. It didn't slow the visitors much as they gained 246 yards in the half but at least the Jets' third-down/red-zone D rose up before the two-minute warning to hold them to Stephen Gostkowski's 34-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead. Jamal Adams was in coverage on Gronk for second- and third-down incompletions and racked up three PDs in the half.
4. Myers Mojo
The Jets seemed to get some two-minute mojo when McCown hit a wide-open Quincy Enunwa for a 41-yard gain to the Patriots 41 at the warning. They lost it on the next play when McCown tried to find Robby Anderson on the post, was hit while throwing and gave up his first INT of the game to CB Stephon Gilmore at the 2. But the Pats couldn't move and the Jets got it back, then got just close enough for Jason Myers to drop another 55-yard field goal over the crossbar to send the Jets in at halftime at 10-10. For Myers, it was an NFL record — his fifth 55-pus FG this season, breaking the tie he forged with Matt Prater and Stephen Hauschka two weeks ago.
5. Limiting the Damage
On the one hand, the Jets defense gave up a 6:26 drive to open the third quarter, including a fourth-and-1 conversion from their 11 on a 2-yard run by Cordarrelle Patterson. On the other hand, they stopped Brady & Co. with three incompletions from there and limited the visitors to Gostkowski's 32-yard FG and a 13-10 lead with 8½ minutes left in the third quarter.
6. Evening the Score
McCown led the home team right back on a 12-play, 4½-minute drive that included Josh's 10-yard scramble on third-and-10 to the NE-24. The Pats defense kept the pressure on, though, and the Jets also had to settle for a slightly shorter Myers kick, from 38 yards, to retie the score at 13-all with 4:00 left in the third frame.
7. Chunks at a Time
The Patriots obviously were feeling much more like themselves on the road this week than two weeks ago in their 34-10 loss at Tennessee. They struck back in chunk-play fashion with a 27-yard completion to Chris Hogan, a 27-yard run by James White, and the Brady-to-Julian Edelman 21-yard catch-and-run to quickly open the lead to 20-13 just 2:08 after the Myers tying FG.
8. Kill Shot?
Things were not looking good for the Green & White as New England was driving for its third second-half score in three drives. RB Sony Michel got the touchdown call on second-and-1 but the booth replay review overturned that, making it third-and-goal from a half-foot out. So Brady handed off to Michel again and this time he broke the plane before being turned away. That made it 27-13, Patriots, with 8:54 to play. Then the Jets went 3-and-out on their next possession.
9. One Last Gasp
McCown and the Jets tried to close the gap as time trickled away. The offense moved from the Jets 39 into the red zone. McCown hit Anderson at the goal line but Gilmore jarred it loose. Then they moved to third-and-2 at the 4 at the two-minute warning. Then on fourth down McCown tried to fire a second TD strike to Kearse but CB Jason McCourty got his hands in on the throw and the ball fell incomplete, ending the Jets' last chance for a miracle finish.