By Andrew Kahn
The ice-cold Jets gave the red-hot Patriots all they could handle Thursday night, but a blocked field goal as time expired sealed a 27-25 New England victory. The Pats moved to 5-2 while the Jets lost their sixth straight, their longest streak under Rex Ryan, to fall to 1-6.
Almost a Folk hero
Jets kicker Nick Folk connected on four first-half field goals, extending his streak without a miss to 13 this season. His 58-yard attempt to give the Jets the win, which would have been a career long, was blocked by lineman Chris Jones. Jones got his hand on a low line drive, redeeming himself for a penalty in last year’s game that allowed Folk a second try at what turned out to be a game-winning field goal. Folk can’t be blamed for failing to connect from that distance, especially when the Jets made little attempt to gain a few more yards on their previous play. After going 48 yards in six plays and less than a minute, Smith took a snap with eight seconds left and immediately fired out of bounds, not allowing a receiver to get closer to the sideline. It was a minor error after a well-executed drive, but the few yards they forfeited might have made the difference on the kick.
Brady going deep
The Jets seemed focused on taking away many of Tom Brady’s short pass attempts, forcing him to look downfield. He did, with success, connecting on 7 of 11 passes that traveled at least 11 yards down the field (don’t ask me why 11 is the number chosen; I don’t compile the stats). Two of his touchdowns came on such throws, and both of which he shifted the pocket before finding an open receiver.
Run game returns for NY
The Jets ran the ball 43 times for 218 yards, good for 5.1 per carry. Chris Ivory was a beast early, running through contact for extra yards and scoring the Jets’ first touchdown, and Chris Johnson looked fresh in the first quarter. They still didn’t break a long one (16 yards was the biggest), but they forced New England to respect the run the entire game, which of course makes the passing game easier for Geno Smith, who didn’t throw an interception for the first time all season. Smith also ran for a first down four times last night, further keeping the Pats defense in check.
Start your engines
Did the Jets realize the game had started? It took New England only four plays and 89 seconds to score, as Tom Brady shuffled to his right and found Shane Vereen wide open down the field, connecting with him for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The Jets got the message, moved down the field for a field goal, forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and drove for another field goal to get right back in the game.
The road ahead
New England’s schedule heats up: Chicago, Denver, bye, at Indianapolis, Detroit, at Green Bay, and at San Diego brings them to the season’s final three weeks. But at 5-2 with the Bills the next best in the AFC East at 3-3, they are in great position for their sixth straight divisional title. While New York’s schedule lightens—not until a Week 16 rematch with New England do they play a team currently above .500—several key Jets will likely be auditioning to keep their jobs. I’m referring specifically to head coach Rex Ryan and Smith, who needs more games like last night if he wants management to believe he is the franchise’s quarterback.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about the NFL and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.
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