In what might have been the final home game of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's tenure with the team, New York once again found a way to lose to its rivals, this time a hard-fought 17-16 loss to the Patriots.
A Jonas Gray 1-yard touchdown dive early in the fourth quarter gave the Patriots a 17-13 lead. Then the Patriots, up 17-16 with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter, got a big play on special teams as a Nick Folk field goal attempt for the lead was partially blocked.
It was a game in which the Jets certainly had their chances. Twice in the first quarter they were gifted solid field position but twice the offense was forced to punt.
After a scoreless first, the Patriots took the lead on a six-play, 36-yard drive, capped off by a tight throw from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. The Jets' typically ice cold offense started to warm up after the New England score, highlighted by a 20-yard touchdown pass from GenoSmith to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland - the finishing touches on an 87-yard touchdown drive. Nick Folk field goals on both sides of halftime staked the Jets out to a 13-7 lead with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
Three things that went wrong for the Jets:
- Missed block in the back
- The referees missed a bad one with 14:57 left in the second quarter. Ryan Quigley sent a booming 57-yard punt that was neatly fielded by Danny Amendola, who zigged to his left to return the ball. Linebacker and special teams maven Nick Bellore appeared ready to make a hit but instead was blatantly pushed in the back and was unable to make the hit. Two referees were right there and neither one of them whistled the block, which allowed for a 39-yard return to the Jets 36-yard line. Six plays later, Tom Brady would put the Jets up 7-0 when he hit Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.
- Two big losses
- In the second quarter, the Jets suffered perhaps their biggest loss of the year in terms of injury when Nick Mangold went down with an ankle injury. Carted off the field, Mangold did not return to the game. Wide receiver Percy Harvin also left due to injury (ribs). While Dalton Freeman filled in admirably for the injured Mangold, the loss of the Pro Bowl center is not good news as the team tries to finish the season strong. And missing Harvin means a bland offense is without his playmaking services. Two big losses in a game where the loss on the field was bad enough.
- No Geno ... No
- With 1:06 left in the third quarter, it finally happened. All game long, Geno Smith was quietly efficient and tidy with no turnovers. But then the second-year quarterback decided to target Jace Amaro, and badly underthrew the ball right into the waiting arms of Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. Eight plays and 38 yards later, the Patriots were up, 17-13. Since reclaiming the starting job in late November, Smith has done a better job in the turnover battle. He had just two interceptions in his last three starts (albeit, he only had two touchdowns in that stretch) but he has stepped up and played better. On Sunday, he read the pressure better and didn't watch the pass rush, stepping up into the pocket to make some nice throws. But that turnover was crucial.