FOXBORO — There was no mud to be seen inside Gillette Stadium last night, thanks to the technological advances of FieldTurf, but both the Jets and Patriots should have at least appeared filthy following a 13-10 sloppy struggle of a New England win.
First one to double-digits wins
Alfonzo Dennard picked off Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith late in the fourth and Tom Brady converted a third-and-5 to Julian Edelman with just under three minutes remaining to more-or-less sew up the low-scoring victory for the Pats.
Aqib Talib had his second interception of Smith minutes later to clinch it. The Patriots and Jets had a giant on-field scuffle after Talib was hit low out of bounds by Nick Mangold. New York’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon were both ejected.
Aaron Dobson had the football version of a home run in his first at-bat as on his debut NFL play, he caught a 39-yard Brady play-action pass to make it 7-0 Pats with 13:01 to go in the first quarter.
Jets back Bilal Powell powered through for a three-yard touchdown run with five minutes left in the third quarter to cut the Pats lead to three, at 13-10. Powell’s score capped a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive for Rex Ryan’s crew.
The score stood at 13-10 the rest of the way as neither team could muster any significant offense.
Defense mucks it up
An animated Chandler Jones was particularly effective, coming up with a big third down sack with 3:50 left in the second quarter and another minutes later that drove the Jets back to their own 4-yard line.
The Pats belted the Jets in the first half with physical play as Talib popped Kellen Winslow out of bounds with New York threatening in the first quarter and Jones and Michael Buchanan sandwiched Geno Smith, sending an early message to the rookie QB despite a roughing the passer flag on the play.
Talib also forced a fumble after a Stephen Hill catch and Devin McCourty returned it 44 yards, deep into Jets territory. New England couldn’t convert a third-and-3, however, settling for a 21-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
The Patriots held the Jets to 60 net yards rushing and 72 net yards passing in the first half.
The tape don’t lie
The Patriots benefited from the NFL’s replay rules early on, despite Kenbrell Thompkins’ would-be touchdown catch being taken away just before the half.
Smith thought he had a touchdown in the first half when he rolled to his left and found Clyde Gates in the end zone. The replay showed Gates did not have control of the ball, however, and New York was forced to settle for a Nick Folk field goal.
To start the second quarter, Edelman looked to have fumbled the ball on a nice strip by Jets corner Dee Milliner. But the booth review showed that Edelman may not have made a complete “football move” after the catch and it was ruled an incompletion.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS