Updated, 6:40 p.m. ET
It was a hard-fought, tight-scoring battle between the Jets and Patriots, as befitted a matchup between the NFL's first-ranked scoring defense and first-ranked scoring offense, and as we've come to expect in the last three years from these two AFC combatants.
It also looked for a good part of the day that the Jets might break through at Gillette Stadium as they opened 10-3 and 20-16 leads, the latter with 12:50 to play.
But QB Tom Brady was again too much and had too much time, firing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Patriots rose to 6-0 and dropped the Jets to 4-2 with a 30-23 victory filled with long drives, the decisive last couple of series by the Pats.
"It's one game. We are going to move on and get ready for next week and get ready for Oakland," head coach Todd Bowles said. "We should be upset with a loss. You show me a good loser, I'll show you a loser, so we are going to stew over it for a night."
Photos from the Divisional Matchup in New England
1. Ivory Fights Through
On the first play of the game, Chris Ivory was stopped for a 4-yard loss, left the field and went to the sideline. Zac Stacy came in early and played a lot in the first half. Ivory came back for some series after getting his hamstring worked on but the Patriots defenders were on him as he gained just 12 yards on his nine first-half carries.
"It's tough, man, for something like that to happen on the first drive," said Ivory, who said he was able to work through the pull and finished the game with 41 yards on seven carries. "I'm fine. I'm ready to go for next week."
2. Fitz Up and Down and Up
Fitzpatrick atoned for his scramble strip-sack on the second offensive play of the game to lead the Jets on 14 offensive plays, 73 yards and 5:19 to Nick Folk's tying FG, then 14 plays, 87 yards and 7:35 to his touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley. But after that the Jets offense could get nothing going and was held to three three-and-outs.
But halftime adjustments helped Fitz direct a 13-80-7:03 drive to a third-quarter TD (below) and an 8-71-4:12 drive to Nick Folk's second field goal.
"We kind of sputtered for a little bit," Fitzpatrick said. "But the biggest thing is we have to be perfect in the red zone. We've got to, whether it's my decision-making, whether it's our routes, whatever it is, we've got to be perfect down there. We're not going to score every time, but that's the goal. And so there were some points that we left out there today because we kind of missed on that perfection."
3. Kerley Fights In
Kerley had been limited in the offensive reps for most of this year, but he's had big games vs. the Patriots in the past, and this one started out big as well. His 12-yard reception to the Patriots 11 was his longest catch of the year, and his 5-yard touchdown grab off a slant against CB Justin Coleman was his second score of the season, the first TD of the game, and gave the Jets a 10-3 lead with 12½ minutes left in the half.
4. Brady Being Brady
Brady and his receivers weren't always synced up in the first half. The Jets D may have had something to do with that, such as Mo Wilkerson's fifth sack of the season early and mixed coverage on TE Rob Gronkowski that held him to 40 yards on his five first-half catches. But Brady as always is tough from short range — he went over the top on fourth-and-goal from a foot out for the TD, making him 23-for-23 converting third- or fourth-and-short vs. the Jets in his career. Two Brady keepers were exactly half of the Pats' rushing attempts in the first half.
5. On the All-Hands Team
Ivory back in training camp said he was happy to be a bigger part of the passing game. So far, so good. Fifty yards on three catches vs. Washington, and today a nifty grab of a low-and-outside Fitzpatrick throw and a 9-yard touchdown reception, the second TD catch of his career, against the stumbling coverage of LB Rob Ninkovich. The Jets led again, this time by 17-16 — only the second team all season to lead in the second half against the Patriots.
6. Sheldon Sacks
DE Sheldon Richardson, making up for some lost time, had a sack of Brady on the last play of the first half, then a strip in the third quarter. Even though Brady recovered and even though he was charged with a 1-yard loss on a run, it's possible the play will be changed to a pass play and thus to Richardson's first multi-sack game since his three-sack effort at Minnesota last year.
7. Fourth-Quarter Awakening
What did we say about the New England passing game? Brady found Julian Edelman for 27 yards to convert a third-and-17 — "That changed the momentum," Revis said — then Gronk for 23 yards to the Jets 12, then Danny Amendola for a leaping 8-yard TD to put the Pats back on top, 23-20, with 7:16 to play. Then Brady continued to connect on their last drive through the two-minute warning to Gronkowski's wide-open 15-yard TD catch-and-run on a Jets blitz of Brady with 1:13 to play.
"He caught the ball, had yards after the catch, broke tackles," LB David Harris said of Gronkowski's 11-catch, 108-yard game. "That's what he does."
8. Next Up
CB Buster Skrine left with an elbow injury in the first half but returned and was in and out. Richardson also left and came back, as did Ivory. S Calvin Pryor left with an ankle injury in the second and third quarters, with Dion Bailey coming in. Nick Mangold left with less than a minute to play with a neck injury.
9. Folk Hero
Nick Folk, with new holder Steve Weatherford (punting for the injured Ryan Quigley), went 3-for-3 in FG tries, including his 55-yarder with 18 seconds to play, a yard shy of his franchise and personal distance record. Then Folk executed an onside kick that Brandon Marshall recovered at the NE-49 with 14 seconds left and no timeouts. It was the Jets' first onside kick recovery since 2008, but Fitzpatrick and the offense could get only one 12-yard pass off before the deal was sealed when Marshall didn't get set at the line, with the penalty wiping the final second off the clock.