FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down how the Patriots escaped with a 27-25 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. Chris Jones blocked a potential 58-yard field goal by Nick Folk to hang on for the win and improve to 5-2 in the AFC East.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick knew better than all the experts that had the Patriots has a two touchdown favorite Thursday night.

Short week, injured key players lost for the season and playing your division rival that had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by beating you.

And that was before the Jets put up 226 yards rushing and held the ball for nearly 41 of the 60 minutes played. The game came down to Chris Jones blocking a Nick Folk field goal attempt from 58 yards. The Patriots held on, 27-25, to improve to 5-2, with an extra three days to rest up before getting ready for the Bears on Oct. 26 in Foxboro. No wonder he ran into the north end zone after the game and gave his old linebacker Willie McGinest a big hug afterward.

“It was, I think, probably about the game we expected,” Belichick said. “With the Jets it’€™s always tough; definitely a grind-it-out game. [I'€™m] obviously really happy for Chris [Jones] at the end. After what happened last year, I thought it was so fitting that he made that play. That was awesome. It wasn’€™t our best. It was good enough, but it wasn’€™t our best. We have to do a better job in all three phases of the game, all the way around.”

The Jets were 9-of-16 on third down, a major reason they were able to hold the ball for nearly 41 minutes. Still, Belichick gave credit to his team for making it through the stretch of four games in 18 days with a 3-1 record. More importantly to Belichick, he has seen his team prove its mental toughness time and time again in the last three games.

“But I have to give our team a lot of credit,” he said. “They played four games in whatever it is, 17, 18 days, whatever it is, [18 days] since that Kansas City game. They’€™ve been tough, they’€™ve worked hard. They’€™ve really pushed themselves on the preparations. Some guys [are] banged up, some guys having to step in and all that. I thought it was a real good team win for us.

“[It'€™s] always good to win in the division; [the] kind of games that you have to win during the year somewhere along the line. So, give the credit to the players. They made the plays when they had to make them. I thought Danny [Amendola] really stepped up and gave us a lot of energy on the kickoff returns and obviously that touchdown catch was a great catch. That was good too. Hopefully we’€™ll get a little bit of a break here, a couple days to kind of catch our breath then we’€™re right back at it. Good to win; we’€™ll enjoy it for a little while, not too long and then turn the page and get on to Chicago.”

Q: Defensively, they ran with relative ease but is there an adjustment period you figured you would have to go through without Jerod Mayo in there?

BB: I think probably the bigger problem we had was third down. We had our chances to get off the field on third down. That would eliminate a lot of those plays. And we have to play the run better too. We didn’€™t make them punt until the fourth quarter [third quarter], whenever it was, it was late. Luckily we played well in the red area, kept them out of the end zone and kept the points down. But didn’€™t do a good enough job in the running game, didn’€™t do a good enough job on run force, didn’€™t do a good enough job on third down obviously. So those are obviously not ‘€“ and we had some three-and-outs offensively that kept us from keeping the ball, keeping momentum. We just weren’€™t consistent enough in any phase of the game. [We] didn’€™t cover kickoffs well. I mean, that play hurt us. We had some breakdowns and we can’€™t afford them, can’€™t afford them. But give the Jets credit. They played hard and they gave us a lot of problems too. There’€™s always work to do.

Q: Can you talk about the adjustments your receivers made? Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola both made adjustments on touchdown catches.

BB: Yeah, Danny’€™s touchdown was, we had a double move outside. Tom [Brady] ended up scrambling, Danny adjusted it, Tom back shouldered him. That was kind of a scramble play. That’€™s one of the first things we put in when we go to the red area offensively and defensively is to deal with the scramble passes, extended plays. Tom did a good job of buying time and put it where only Danny could get it. Danny made another great catch. Shane’€™s play it looks like the corner just ‘€“ we ran a double outside route, it looked like the corner sat on and just dropped Shane. It was like he was out to practice early. It was good by Tom to see it because Shane was kind of a clear-out guy on that route but Tom had time, he was able to scan downfield. You don’€™t want to give him those kind of opportunities. He’€™s not going to miss many of them.

Q: Danny hadn’€™t had many touches the last few games but had contributions today. Is it hard to measure a guy when he’€™s not getting touches and stay up?

BB: Nobody works harder than Danny does. Nobody works harder than Danny. He’€™s working every day: offense, scout team, special teams. He always works hard. He’€™s a really competitive kid; tough. No question about it. I never saw that from him at all.

Q: What was the thought behind using Danny on kickoff returns?

BB: I think Pat’€™s [Chung] done a good job for us. It’€™s just Pat is playing a lot of defense, playing a lot of plays in the kicking game. He’€™s the personal protector on the punt team with Nate [Ebner] out. He’€™s played on the punt return. Just to try to spread it out a little bit. Danny’€™s worked back there all year. [We] thought it would be a good opportunity to take a little bit off Pat. But I’€™m not unhappy at all with what Pat’€™s been doing. I think he’€™s done a good job. But it just gives Danny an opportunity to get some balls back there and also to kind of spread the load to everybody. It’€™s one less thing that Chung has to really focus on because he’€™s got a lot of other stuff on his plate in terms of defense, punt, punt return, nickel, dime, goal line. There’€™s a lot of stuff there.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Although the Patriots beat the Jets 27-25 on Thursday Night Football to move to 5-2 on the year and won their third straight game in the process — there are still plenty of improvements to be made — particularly when it comes to defending the run.

FOXBORO — Although the Patriots beat the Jets 27-25 on Thursday Night Football to move to 5-2 on the year and won their third straight game in the process — there are still plenty of improvements to be made — particularly when it comes to defending the run.

Not given any favors with the loss of Jerod Mayo to season-ending knee surgery this week, the Patriots allowed 218 yards on 43 carries to the Jets — including a 21-carry, 107-yard performance to running back Chris Ivory. The 218 yards were the most rushing yards the Jets have had in a game since Oct. 14, 2012 against the Colts.

This is something the defense is not taking lightly.

“I’€™m very stingy when it comes to the rush defense,”€ defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “That’€™s the one thing I’€™m disappointed in [the run defense]. We’€™ll fix it, we always do and hopefully we can get this thing rolling consistently.”

Thursday marked the third game this season where the Patriots have allowed 190 or more rushing yards — the Dolphins ran for 191 in Week 1 and Kansas City ran for 207 in Week 4. Also, Bill Belichick has allowed more than 200 yards rushing to an opponent 13 times during his tenure in New England and two of them have come this year.

“Luckily we played well in the red area, kept them out of the end zone and kept the points down, but didn’€™t do a good enough job in the running game — didn’€™t do a good enough job on run force, didn’€™t do a good enough job on third down obviously,” Belichick said. “We just weren’€™t consistent in any phase of the game.”

The Patriots entered Thursday with the fifth-best overall defense in the league, but the passing defense carrying the group as they are fourth in the NFL defending the pass, compared to 14th against the run. This is much improved as just two weeks ago they were 23rd.

Without their leading tackler — and emotional leader in Mayo — things will not come easy. Dont’€™a Hightower and Jamie Collins filled in admirably, finishing with 13 tackles apiece, but other than the two of them they don’€™t have many others.

Due to the lack of depth at the position, they have been forced to play a lot of nickel defense and even have had plays where safeties Tavon Wilson and Patrick Chung have lined up at inside linebacker — a major reason why the Jets ran for 124 yards in the first half alone.

The Patriots adjusted in the second half by having linebacker Deontae Skinner play more along with Hightower and Collins, but he’€™s an undrafted rookie and cannot truly be counted on at this point in his career.

With the Patriots taking on the Bears with Matt Forte and then the Broncos with Montee Ball the next two games, the defense will need to start making stopping the run more of a priority because allowing 200+ yards rushing each week is not a recipe for success and puts even more pressure on the offense.

“[We'€™re] playing well in situations, but there are some things we can definitely do better,” Wilfork said. “At the same time you can’€™t complain about a win, especially in the division. You can’€™t complain about those wins, so we are very proud to have them so lets get that straight, but there are some things we have to do a lot better moving forward.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Revenge might be sweet but redemption for Chris Jones Thursday night could not have tasted any better.

Chris Jones (94) earns congratulations from Bill Belichick after blocking a potential game-winning field goal. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Chris Jones (94) earns congratulations from Bill Belichick after blocking a potential game-winning field goal. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Revenge might be sweet but redemption for Chris Jones Thursday night could not have tasted any better.

The Patriots defensive lineman broke through the line and blocked Nick Folk’s potential game-winning field goal from 58-yards with his left hand on the final play, preserving a 27-25 Patriots’ victory at Gillette Stadium.

It came almost a year to the day that he was called for an illegal push at the line in overtime that gave the Jets and Folk a second chance. Folk, who missed from 46 yards, didn’t miss from 41 as the Jets walked out of MetLife Stadium with a 30-27 win.

Jones may not have been thinking about that at the precise moment his left hand saved the Patriots from an embarrassing home loss but he certainly was reminded about it after the game by coaches, teammates and of course, media.

“A few people have told me about it, so I’€™ve had a chance to think about it,” Jones said. “It feels good. That was last year and it’€™s just good to get a win this year. I think it really became a reality when coach [special teams assistant] Joe Judge came up and told me. I felt it then.

“Honestly it’€™s just good to get a win. Obviously it’€™s always good to beat a division rival. The Jets gave us their best and we’€™re just glad to come out with the win.”

“[I'€™m] obviously really happy for Chris at the end,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “After what happened last year, I thought it was so fitting that he made that play. That was awesome.”

Last year, he was criticized despite Belichick’s acknowledgment after the game that the rule was not clear on how linemen could use they bodies to create push in the middle of the line. There was no such problem with technique or the rule book Thursday.

“I was just trying to get as deep in the pocket as I can and get up and get my hands on it,” Jones said. “God willing, I blocked it and that’€™s what happened. [Jets Kicker Nick Folk] was 50+ [yards away] as far as distance, so I knew it was going to be a line drive.

“I was just trying to get as deep and as high as I can. [The Jets special teams] was pretty stout. I think it was just coming down to will at the end. We just had to see who could get the most push in the front and we ended up getting it. We just tried to rush them and get middle penetration. Obviously you have to throw your all-out block on when you’€™re in that situation and have the possibility of winning the game, so we have to do all that we can to block the kick.”

Jones isn’t even the first player with his surname to block a field goal attempt this season. At the end of the first half in Minnesota, it was Chandler Jones who broke through the right side of the Vikings’ line to block a field goal and return it for a touchdown. But Chris Jones’ swat Thursday night saved the Patriots from an ugly loss.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Coming into the game with a 1-5 record — losers of five straight — the Jets were a desperate team.

Rex Ryan and the Jets have now lost six straight games. (Getty Images)

Rex Ryan and the Jets have now lost six straight games. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Coming into the game with a 1-5 record — losers of five straight — the Jets were a desperate team.

Ultimately, they left everything they had on the field — having it come down to a field goal as time expired — but the kick was blocked and the Jets fell to the Patriots, 27-25 Thursday Night on the road at Gillette Stadium.

“€œIt’€™s really frustrating because this is a team you are playing your first divisional game,”€ head coach Rex Ryan said. “Obviously, these are the big dogs in our division. You know, nothing against Buffalo and Miami, they are playing well, but this team has won 10 years in a row, I think — or 10 out of 11. So, this is the one where you are trying to beat them at their place and this is like the third time in a row that I thought we were good enough to beat them here and we come away with a loss.”€

The players — like their coach — were disappointed and actually felt like they let down their coach.

“Rex is an emotional guy. The beauty of Rex is he believes in all of us and quite frankly we let him down tonight,” linebacker Calvin Pace said.

“€œHe wanted this one,”€ wide receiver David Nelson added. “We all did. Not only because it was the New England game, but we were 1-5 coming in and we know we’€™re better than that. We’€™ve laid some eggs the past couple of weeks and given away games. We wanted to come out on a national stage and showcase what we’€™re all about. I think you saw that the majority of the game.”

Although the Jets played one of their better games of the season — totaling over 400 yards of total offense — they still shot themselves in the foot by committing seven penalties for 70 yards and going 2-for-4 in the red zone.

“We had a couple big penalties in the red zone that hurt us,”€ Ryan said. “One that took a touchdown off the board — a holding call — then we had another holding call. Most penalties in the red zone, we know that’€™s hurt us. Again it played out really the way it has a lot of the season. At times, it looks like we are good enough to win and then we make too many mistakes. And obviously, those things hurt us.”

Even though only one team in NFL history who has started the year 1-6 has ever made the playoffs — the 1970 Bengals — the Jets still have some fight in them.

“Another reason why [Rex is] so disappointed in this team is he believes in this team,”€ Nelson said. “€œHe believes we’€™re a playoff caliber team and we were built for success. I think that is why it is so difficult for him to swallow and why it is difficult for all of us to swallow. … Today was extra difficult because we fought so hard and laid everything on the field and had the chance at the end of the game and came up short.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots held on down the stretch Thursday night to pick up a 27-25 win over the Jets at Gillette Stadium. Chris Jones blocked what would have been a game-winning 58-yard field goal as time expired.

Tom Brady and the Patriots held on down the stretch for the win over New York. (Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots held on down the stretch for the win over New York. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots held on down the stretch Thursday night to pick up a 27-25 win over the Jets at Gillette Stadium. Chris Jones blocked what would have been a game-winning 58-yard field goal as time expired.

It wasn’t a pretty game, but in the end, New England did enough to hold on down the stretch. The Patriots took the lead for good on a 36-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski with 4:10 left in the third and held on late, sealing the contest with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola with 7:49 left in the fourth to make it 27-19.

The Jets added a late touchdown, but missed out on the two-point conversion when quarterback Geno Smith’s throw for Jace Amaro was off the target.

Brady finished the game 20-for-37 for 261 yards with three touchdowns. Shane Vereen added 12 carries for 47 yards. He also had five catches for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Smith was 15-for-27 for 178 and one touchdown, while Jets running back Chris Ivory came away with 21 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Here’s what we learned about the Patriots on Thursday night:

Tom Brady was a mixed bag against the Jets defense

The quarterback hit on some nice throws early, including a 24-yarder to Brandon LaFell and a 20-yarder to Gronkowski. His deep ball on the first touchdown of the night — a 49-yard scoring strike to Shane Vereen — would have been overthrown if Vereen didn’t do a terrific job laying out for the pass. There were a few others that were off the mark, including the 19-yarder to Amendola in the fourth quarter, a ball where the receiver made a great play on the ball. In the end, he did enough to pick up the win in his 200th career regular season, game, finding Vereen twice and Amendola once for touchdown passes.

Rob Gronkowski didn’t have the gaudy stat line he had the last two weeks, but he still played a sizable role

LaFell talked last week about the impact that a healthy Gronkowski has on the New England offense, and that was seen on multiple occasions against the Jets. New York frequently went after the tight end with multiple defenders, as he drew two and three Jets on several occasions, including when the Patriots were in the red zone. That level of attention allowed some other pass catchers to get some one-on-one work, including Vereen (on his second touchdown catch) and Amendola (on his fourth-quarter touchdown reception). In the end, he came away with five catches for 68 yards.

The defensive line is capable of being flat-out dominated

New York was able to run the ball without much of an issue throughout the evening, as Ivory broke the 100-yard mark early in the third quarter and was a colossal part of the Jets running game. (The Jets picked ups whopping 13 first downs by running the ball.) New York’s offensive line was able to shove the New England defensive front around when it came to the ground game, and it was almost enough to give them the victory. With Chicago’s superback Matt Forte on deck next week, it’ll be a massive challenge for the Patriots defensive front to try and get back on track.

Brandon Browner apparently still needs to work on his football fitness

In the first regular-season action as a member of the Patriots, the veteran cornerback started the game and was competitive as a member of the New England secondary. (Despite being flagged for his first penalty in a New England uniform.) However, he appeared to be gassed on several occasions, and missed a sizable chunk of time toward the end of the first half. He was on again with the starters at the beginning of the second half, and played a handful of snaps.

Shane Vereen is going to be relied on pretty heavily the rest of the way

Vereen was absolutely integral to the success of the New England offense on Thursday night, as he accounted for 87 yards from scrimmage (60 receiving, 27 rushing) and a pair of touchdowns in the first half to help the Patriots register a 17-12 halftime lead. And after seeing Jonas Gray get a bunch of carries in the early going, New England turned to Vereen for most of the work on the ground over the course of the final two quarters. He’s probably not the sort of guy who could handle 20 carries a game over the course of a full 16-game season, he’s a good situational guy who can work between the tackles on a limited basis.

When it comes to the offensive struggles, you can’t pin this one on the offensive line

The Patriots, who were missing center Bryan Stork and guard Dan Connolly coming into the contest (both are suffering from concussions), were forced to use Josh Kline and Jordan Devey at guard, and at first glance, both appeared to hold up well. While there were some bad penalties on the line — including an unnecessary roughness call on Jordan Devey in the first half where he pushed a New York defender in the back at the end of a play, likely a way to help protect Brady — the group held up well and gave Brady good time to work in pass protection. (The biggest negative on the night? Marcus Cannon almost got Brady killed when he blew a third-quarter block on Brady’s blindside.)

Danny Amendola has found a new job

Working as kick returner, Amendola did well to give the Patriots manageable field position over much of the evening, including a 26-yard return and a 31-yard return against the Jets. With no one doing much to seize the job over the course of the first six games — and Amendola not doing much when it comes to catching passes — it might seem like a pretty good fit for Amendola.

They got out of this one completely healthy

While the Patriots came into the game shorthanded — Stevan Ridley and Jerod Mayo were already ruled out for the year, while offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork were sidelined because of concussions — no one left the game because of injury.

No matter what happens the rest of the weekend, the Patriots will stay in first place

The victory allows New England to move to 5-2 on the season, which means that even if the Bills (second place at 3-3) knock off Minnesota on Sunday, the Patriots will stay in first place. Meanwhile, the Jets fell to 1-6, and saw any postseason hopes crumble. Only one team in the history of the NFL — the 1970 Bengals — started the year 1-6 and still made the postseason.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price