Jets Claim 1st Place: Oust Pats in OT, 34-31

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2008 Week 11 Jets Vs Patriots Photos

On a Thursday night in the New England countryside, a band of revolutionaries came up from New York and toppled the old monarchy in a magnificent battle that needed an extra session to determine a winner. The New York Jets grabbed sole possession of first place in the AFC East, beating the Patriots, 34-31, as Jay Feely drilled a 34-yard field goal 7:50 into overtime.

"It's a great feeling," said veteran DE Shaun Ellis, the longest tenured Jet. "There was no doubt in my mind that Feely was going to make that kick — I knew he was going to make it."

Brett Favre, the winning field general acquired by the Jets in August from the Green Bay Packers, got his hands on the ball first in overtime and he led his new club to its biggest win in years. The ageless wonder completed five of six passes for 56 yards on the march before Feely ended one of the most memorable games in this series. 

"Great game. I'm glad to be on the winning side of it," said Favre, who finished 26-of-33 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. "This is what I came back for."

The Jets were in terrific shape late in regulation, holding a 31-24 lead when the Pats took over, with no timeouts, at their 38 and just 1:04 remaining. But Matt Cassel got the Patriots downfield to the Jets' 16 in seven plays. And on fourth-and-1 with just eight seconds remaining, Cassel escaped David Bowens' pressure and somehow got a scoring completion to Randy Moss on the side of the end zone. Moss, covered by Ty Law, made a spectacular catch that was upheld after the officials reviewed the replay.  There was one second on the clock.

"It was just an amazing catch by Randy right there on the sideline," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini.  "You have to give him a ton of credit and Cassel a ton of credit."

After relinquishing a 24-6 advantage, the 7-3 Jets responded with another fabulous fourth-quarter drive. They moved 67 yards in 14 plays, bleeding 7:06 off the game clock before Thomas Jones, behind a beautiful lead block from fullback Tony Richardson, sent a late salvo from 1-yard out to break a 24-24 tie with 3:10 remaining. On that final Jets scoring possession of regulation, Favre completed four of five passes for 29 yards while Jones, who finished with a tough 104 yards on 30 carries, ran six times for 26 yards. That score looked like it would be enough but the Pats were far from finished.

Leon Washington scored a pair of touchdowns for the winners and Jerricho Cotchery added another as the Jets raced out to that 24-6 lead.  Dustin Keller had a career-high eight receptions — none more important than his 16-yard gain on third-and-15 from deep inside Jets territory in OT.

"Coach would probably have been more comfortable if I got 17 or 18," Keller said. "It was a huge play. I just thank Brett for having the confidence to go my way on that play."

Despite chilly and damp conditions, the Jets came out smoking hot once again. They struck on their opening possession for the fifth consecutive game as Favre and Washington hooked up on 7-yard TD on third-and-goal. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer went to a spread look and lined Washington wide right. The fleet back caught a quick pass from Favre, cut to the middle and took advantage of a great block by right tackle Damien Woody to waltz into the end zone.

Favre, who completed all five of his passes on the initial march, was lethal on third downs. It originally appeared that the Green & White would be forced to punt but Laveranues Coles' 8-yard tiptoe reception in front of the Jets' bench, originally ruled an incompletion on the field, was overturned after a smart challenge. Later Keller made a fine stab, grabbing a Favre spiral and doing damage after the catch for a 20-yarder gain that got the Jets inside the red zone.

Both teams would exchange field goals before the end of the quarter and the hosts had to feel fortunate they trailed only 10-3 at the end of one. After Stephen Gostkowski got the Pats on the board with a 42-yarder, Feely answered from 22. The Jets were inches away from going up 14-3, but a wide-open Keller couldn't come up a ball that Favre threw just a little bit behind him on second-and-goal.

And just when Patriots fans had just finished celebrating Gostkowski's second field goal, a 31-yarder, Washington took the air out of greater Boston. He cleanly fielded a punt at his 8, got a nice crease to travel across the field, and then was off to the races for a breathtaking 92-yard sprint. It was the fourth kickoff-return TD of his career, giving him the franchise career record that he shared with Justin Miller.

"I've been yearning for one all year long. When you can make a big play on the road in an environment like that, you give your team a big boost," Washington said. "It was good to get an early jump because we really needed it."

Cotchery didn't want to be outdone, though, and he authored one of the greatest drive by a Jets receiver in franchise history, catching three passes for 79 yards. Despite being interfered with by Ellis Hobbs, J-Co made a left-handed snare of a Favre bomb for 46 yards before he finished the drive himself from 15 with a savvy one-handed stretch of the ball over the goal line. 

"We set a goal to come in here and take the next step," Cotchery said.  "We had a big opportunity and everyone was willing to step up and make it happen."

The Jets were up 18 and that margin was the largest over the Pats in 17 games. Also the Green & White had produced at least 24 points in the first half for the second consecutive contest for the first time in 36 years.

Down by 18 in their house, the Pats were quickly forced into desperation mode. Head coach Bill Belichick decided against another field goal attempt with 2:40 left in the half and Jets reserve DL C.J. Mosley responded with a sack of Cassel on fourth-and-3 from the 23. But the Patriots converted a fourth-and-1 on their next possession when Jabar Gaffney hauled in a 19-yard TD past rookie corner Dwight Lowery.

The Jets allowed 242 yards of offense in the first half and still had a sizable cushion entering the third at 24-13. When the Pats threatened early in the final half, linebacker Eric Barton knocked the ball loose from Ben Watson in scoring territory and Kerry Rhodes recovered for the visitors. It was the first takeaway in the divisional battle. 

The Patriots continued to show championship mettle in the third quarter, holding the Jets' offense at bay while Cassel remained hot as a poker. He had all day before hitting Watson in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score to end the third. The Pats cut the Jets' advantage to just three at 24-21 when Cassel fired complete to Gaffney for two. At the end of three quarters, the Patriots had nearly a 200-yard edge in total yards, 420-221.

"We made it hard for ourselves in the second half but you have to take off your hat to them — they played great," Ellis said.  "They made the adjustments and stepped it up. Their offense gave us a lot of problems."

Gostkowski's third field goal make — a 47-yarder with 10:22 left — made things all square at 24. Prior to the points, corner Jason Webster made Cotchery couple up a fumble and Gary Guyton recovered for the Patriots.

The Patriots outgained the Jets by a 511-375 count, but they're 6-4 and looking up at the Jets in the standings.  Favre was great in the clutch and the Jets had just enough in reserve to finish what they had set out to do.

"It's great to get a lead in our division, but it was really awesome to get over that hurdle and say we don't have to be bullied anymore," Washington said.  "We can go out and beat this team."

After a weekend off, the Jets will return to action in nine days against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans, owners of an unblemished 9-0 record, are in Jacksonville on Sunday for a date with the Jaguars.

"We've still got a lot of football left, but that was fun," Favre said. 

Deadlock

Thursday's meeting between the Jets and the Patriots was the 99th since the series began in 1960. Each side has won 49 and there has been one tie.

Ty Involved Early

Veteran cornerback Ty Law, who signed with Jets on Tuesday and played his first 10 pro seasons in New England, didn't have to wait long to get a taste of action. He went toe-to-toe with Randy Moss on the Pats' second play.

Tiger Option

Former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, now in his third season, took a snap from the shotgun formation and made the most of it. Favre lined up wide to the left and Smith, with Leon Washington trailing, went on an option run for 17 yards to set up Feely's second field goal.

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