Rivalries still count for something in the NFL. There were little-to-no signs suggesting that the one-win Jets were even going to put up a fight against the surging Patriots (5-2) at Gillette Stadium Thursday night. But New York put together its best performance of the season and came oh-so-close to upsetting their hated AFC East neighbors.
The Patriots sweated it out against the Jets, winning 27-25, with Chris Jones blocking Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal attempt with seconds remaining. It had to be sweet for Jones, who was flagged on a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in a loss to the Jets at the Meadowlands just last season.
The Jets led the Patriots for a portion of the third quarter and New England was up by only one point heading into the fourth. The Pats got an eight-point cushion with just under eight minutes remaining when Tom Brady was forced out of the pocket but found Danny Amendola for a 19-yard touchdown that put New England up, 27-19. It was Amendola’s first touchdown grab since a Dec. 8, 2013 win over Cleveland. Amendola would also recover a late, Jets onside kick attempt.
The Jets hung around until the end thanks to a great rushing attack that racked up a whopping 218 yards on the ground. Chris Ivory led the way for New York with 107 yards.
The Jets were focused on keeping the ball out of Brady’s hands and they did that to perfection early in the third quarter. New York held the ball for 6:02 coming out of halftime and ran 11 plays for 80 yards on a drive that Ivory polished off with a 1-yard touchdown plunge that put the Jets up, 19-17. The drive was kept alive by Smith, who on third-and-12 at the Patriots’ 26 found Eric Decker for 18 yards across the middle.
New York held the ball for just over 22 minutes in the first half as well with the Pats maintaining possession for just under eight minutes. New York racked up 196 yards in the first half, with most of their success coming on the ground. The Pats had 208 yards of offense prior to the half with most of it coming via the pass.
The Pats actually opened the game with their most impressive drive of the night as Brady hit Shane Vereen for a 49-yard touchdown. Vereen was split wide and caught a slightly overthrown Brady ball by diving and rolling into the end zone to put the Pats up 7-0.
New England led, 17-12 at halftime. The only Jets points came from Folk field goals in the first half.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS