The Jets lost an overtime heartbreaker to the New England Patriots 29-26 in Foxborough today, falling to 2-1 in division play and 3-4 overall.
This was a team loss like Jets fans can’t believe. After the defense stopped the Patriots opening drive, and the Jets offense came out and scored a touchdown, the special teams allowed a 104 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. They didn’t even touch him.
The Jets offense sputtered, scoring field goals instead of touchdowns, but with the help of the special teams forcing a fumble late in the fourth quarter, managed to take back the lead on a 43 yard field goal with about 1:30 left. But the defense, which had held the vaunted Patriots offense in check all game, was unable to keep them out of field goal range, and the game went into overtime.
Some of the play calling was questionable, and the clock management at the first half and then the end of regulation was appalling.
Mark Sanchez was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde today. He was 28 for 41 for 328 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Sanchez fumbled twice. Once near the end zone in the first half, where he did the right thing to kick out the ball out of the end zone. It was going to be a safety or a touchdown either way, Sanchez guaranteed the Patriots two points instead of seven there. His second fumble was in OT to end the game. Finally, the interception meant for Stephen Hill was a hilariously bad pass, but the Patriots didn’t capitalize on it.
It was the game the Jets won in Miami earlier this year, but the flip side of it. Even with their mistakes, they played better than the Patriots and lost.
For fans that wanted the Jets to take an aggressive approach, they were probably quite annoyed with the Jets strategy at the end of the first half and at the end of regulation. You don’t settle for field goals against New England, you go for the kill. The end of the first half was mostly terrible clock management that cost them the touchdown.
In the fourth, it was “play not to lose” play calling that’s never led the Jets to anything good that cost them again. With 2:00 left and the ball on New England’s end of the field, the Jets decided to run two guys up the middle on first and second down, and then the field goal was made even more difficult when Sanchez got sacked on third down. They didn’t even try to get the first down, or a touchdown. They didn’t kill enough clock and they only got three points. It was infuriating.
Then, the play calling was far too aggressive earlier in the third quarter, when instead of running Shonn Greene (or Tim Tebow) into the end zone on 3rd & 1, they decide to throw the ball AND use the world’s most predictable play – a slant route to Chaz Schilens. The Jets ended up with a field goal.
The defense played too conservatively at the end of regulation as well, allowing the Patriots into field goal range and forcing overtime.
Finally, as if the Jets trampling all over their own chances wasn’t enough, they had plenty of help losing from the referees. I’m not usually one for blaming the refs, but some of the calls that went against the Jets were atrocious. Aaron Hernandez’s fumble on the goal line was one example of “home field advantage.” The call really could have gone either way, and elsewhere probably stands for lack of conclusive evidence. There was a phantom holding call on Brandon Moore, which wiped out a huge Jets 15 yard gain. And finally, there was the pass interference called on Kyle Wilson in overtime. It wasn’t called by the ref who was five yards away, it was called late by a ref at least 25 yards down the field. A huge third down stop for the Jets defense became a new set of downs for New England, and it led directly to the game winning field goal.
There were some bright spots in this game, in spite of the fact it was a loss. Jeremy Kerley can officially be considered legitimate. In his new role as the number one receiving option, he’s arrived. He had seven receptions today for 120 yards, one of which was an acrobatic catch on a ball batted up that had no business being caught. Keller also seems to have fully returned, catching seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Nick Folk was perfect, making all four field goals he attempted, including two for 43 yards. And the defense held the Patriots very potent offense to two touchdowns. The third touchdown came on special teams, and beyond that it was all field goals and the safety for New England.
The Jets have the Dolphins at home next week. They barely beat Miami in Week 03 – didn’t deserve to win, even – but the Jets do look like a better team since then. Maybe the loss to the 49ers in Week 04 was rock bottom. Next week is a division game the Jets must win to stay at .500 going into their bye week. Kickoff is at 1:00.