Vince Wilfork was a hero Sunday with a late field-goal block. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.



Jonas Gray (right), Rob Gronkowski (middle) and James Develin (left) celebrate after Gray's go-ahead touchdown. (Al Bello/Getty Images)EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Relax.

We all should've figured this wasn't going to be easy.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nothing like a 6-foot-2, 325-pound nose tackle making like Michael Jordan to save a game with a blocked field goal.

Vince Wilfork became the fourth Patriots player this year to block a field goal, and the second one to save a potential game-winning kick by the Jets’ Nick Folk.

“Blocking a field goal by Air Vince, we’ve got to do those things,” Devin McCourty said.

On Sept. 14, Chandler Jones got the block party going with a block of Vikings kick toward the end of the first half. He returned it for a touchdown. On Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium, Chris Jones preserved a 27-25 win with a last-second bat down. Against the Dolphins, it was Jamie Collins doing the honors on the game’s first drive, leading to a Kyle Arrington scoop and score.

Sunday, it was Wilfork’s turn. With 5:21 left, Wilfork moved over to his right, jumped up and got his right hand up high enough to block Folk’s 52-yard attempt.

“I just filled a soft A-gap, making sure that I was legal, not covering up the center and at the same time, being able to get vertical in that lane,” Wilfork said. “I felt that I had a good shot of getting some penetration, so it worked out well. That is just one of the plays that (we had) opportunities on. I had a good opportunity to make a play and I did for the team. It was nothing special that I did. I just penetrated a little bit and got my hands up and got a piece of it. I’€™m glad it helped my team win a ball game. That is what it is all about, the wins, and we walk away with another one.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Tom Brady didn't have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Tom Brady didn’t have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — Although it wasn’t as dramatic of a turnaround as last week’s second half against the Dolphins, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense did just enough in the second half to overcome a stingy Jets defense for a hard-earned, 17-16 win Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots entered the locker room trailing 10-7 and Brady was a pedestrian 11-for-15 passing with 79 yards and a touchdown, while Geno Smith was 11-for-16 with 117 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots had just seven first downs total in the first half, but were able to put together a few good drives in the second half — led by a more up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

“We got into a little rhythm there, Brady said. “I think it settled a few things down. We have to sustain it and get it in the red zone down there. We kind of came up short on that 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-2, whatever it was. We just have to finish those drives, especially key drives like that where you can finally get a little momentum, a little rhythm. It’s a good defense, they challenged us. We had long field all day, we had a couple good short fields that we took advantage of. The defense really stepped up when we need to.”

Things weren’t going the Patriots’ way, as they trailed 13-7 in the third quarter, but after kicking a field goal, got a huge interception from Jamie Collins. Jonas Gray ran it in from a yard out on the ensuing possession to give the Patriots a 17-13 lead. The Jets then kicked a field goal on their next possession making it a 17-16 game with 7:53 left in the game.

Following the field goal, Brady threw his first interception of the game — a tipped ball intended for Brandon LaFell — giving the Jets great field position at the Patriots’ 24-yard line. A huge Dont’a Hightower sack on third-down made it a 52-yard field goal attempt for Nick Folk, and fortunately Vince Wilfork was able to bail them out by partially blocking the attempt. The Patriots then were able to pick up a few first downs and run out the final 5:16 of time.

“We made plenty of good ones in the fourth quarter to come from behind. That was great,” said Brady. “Defensively, we played great again. I’m glad it came out the way that it did, it makes for a better Christmas. It’s always tough to get a win here, they’re a good team. They always play us hard. We got their best today.

“We obviously didn’t do a good job in the first three quarters. We found a little rhythm there in the second half and got some points on the board. [We] made some plays at the end. It’s about making the critical plays and we found a way to do it.”

Brady is now 48-7 (.872) in December, the best record in December among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts in the history of the NFL. The Patriots improved to 12-3 with the win and clinched a first-round bye in the process. They can lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win next week at home against the Bills, or with a Denver loss Monday night against the Bengals.

The quarterback isn’t looking ahead to the postseason and is solely focused on beating Buffalo next week.

“We have a big come coming up next week and we have to finish strong at home in the division,” Brady said. “It would be great to get to 5-1, especially after losing the first division game, To win five straight that would be great.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain how the Patriots held off the Jets, 17-16, Sunday at MetLife Stadium to improve to 12-3 and lock up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout if the Bengals beat the Broncos Monday night in Cincinnati.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If you’re looking for a backhanded compliment from the Patriots of the Jets following New England’s 17-16 nail-biter at MetLife Stadium, look no further than Brandon Browner.

Sunday could have been the last time Rex Ryan will face the Patriots as head coach of the Jets. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Sunday could have been the last time Rex Ryan will face the Patriots as head coach of the Jets. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — If indeed Sunday was Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach of the New York Jets, maybe the happiest guy to see him out of the AFC East is Tom Brady, as Ryan led teams have done historically well against the Patriots’ quarterback.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, going into Sunday, Brady’€™€™€™s completion percentage in games against Jets’€™€™ defenses led by Ryan was 59 percent, compared to 65 percent against the rest of the league. That trend continued Sunday as although Brady completed 66 percent of his passes (23-for-35), he wasn’t his usual self and the Jets put tons of pressure on him all game long, forcing him into just 182 yards passing, his lowest since Week 4.

“I don’t know if it is really possible to control Tom Brady. If not, we’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not,” Ryan said after the game.

“I just think we play defense a lot different than most teams in the league,” Ryan added. “We don’t just line up and play standard defense. I think that’s what I am talking about. Everybody plays hard and we’re no exception. Through the years, that probably holds true.”

Brady was asked what makes facing the Jets defense so difficult?

“I think this is a team that does a lot of things well,” said Brady. “They have good scheme, good players, a good rush, good in the middle of the defense, good middle linebacker, good safeties. The corners played well today. I just think we got their best and I think we kind of sputtered there and got out of rhythm.”

Over the years, Ryan has has mixed things up against Brady and the Patriots, noting you cannot win doing the same thing every game.

“You always try new things,” he said. “You don’t just give him the same picture down after down. That guy will kill you if you do. We were able to turn our pass rush loose a little more and I think that helped us. We thought our defensive line was a huge advantage for us going into the game.”

With the loss, the Jets fell to 3-12 on the year and the writing seems on the wall for Ryan as head coach of the Jets after failing to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Ryan said he wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of Sunday being his last game coaching at MetLife.

“I want every one of them, but it’s frustrating” he said. “I felt good going in. I thought we could matchup on the outside which really allows us to really play defense the way we want to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t close the deal.”

The Jets held a 10-7 halftime lead, and also led 13-7 in the third quarter. A key Geno Smith interception by Jamie Collins was a huge factor in the game, as it came after the Patriots scored to make it a 13-10 game, and then Jonas Gray scored on the ensuing possession to turn a 13-7 deficit into a 17-13 lead for New England in less than five minutes of game time.

“This was another game that I thought we had a heck of a chance to win against New England,” Ryan said. “That’s been the story probably the last four out of five times we played them. To their credit, they find ways to win. They made big plays at the end of the game to win. That’s why they are where they are right now and what separates them from a lot of teams. It’s unfortunate. I really thought it was going to be our day. It never turned out that way.”

As head coach of the Jets — if he is indeed fired — Ryan would finish with a 4-8 record in the regular season against the Patriots.

Ryan was asked if things might be different for him in New York if he was able to beat the Patriots more often.

“No. They usually run away with our division,” Ryan said. “The one year we were both 9-2, we got smoked like a sausage in that Monday night game. That was probably the one year we could have won the division.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If you’re looking for a backhanded compliment from the Patriots of the Jets following New England’s 17-16 nail-biter at MetLife Stadium, look no further than Brandon Browner.

“Looking on paper, we probably should have killed those guys but we’re well coached in situations,” Browner said. “They let us know that it’s going to be a tough battle, regardless, going against the Jets. We played them earlier on this year and it was a tough battle all the way down to the end of the game. And that’s what happened. Guys are just resilient. Hats off to my teammates because that’s a good football team. Well, when they play us.”

The Jets, now 3-12 in another dreadful season for Gang Green, played the Patriots as hard as anyone could have expected. They had the chance to take the lead after a Tom Brady interception in the fourth quarter gave the Jets the ball at the Patriots 30.

But Dont’a Hightower recorded a 10-yard sack that turned a 42-yard field goal into a 52-yard attempt by Nick Folk, a kicker nursing a hip flexor.

“It was so huge,” Browner said of Hightower’s sack. “It made a longer field goal, and on a longer field goal, the flight of the ball is always going to be [lower] than on the shorter kicks because he’s trying to get it kicked out there so it’s not going to be as high and our shorter D-lineman was able to get out there and block it.

“We’re well coached in situations we’re put in throughout the week so it when it comes up we’re ready for it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Even though the Jets fell to the Patriots for the second time in two games this season, 17-16 on Sunday, they lost by a combined three points in those two games, and have forced quarterback Tom Brady into two of his tougher games of the season.