One would figure having Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup would automatically give the Patriots an advantage on the Jets. New England’s star tight end returned to the playing field on Sunday and caught 8 balls for 114 yards. The Jets still managed to walk away with a 30-27 victory in overtime.
Aside from Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots aerial attack looked mediocre at best. Julian Edelman did catch 5 passes for 44 yards, though other than that not much else is even worth noting. Tom Brady threw an uncharacteristic interception for a touchdown. Antonio Allen got the better of the Patriots signal caller and the play was costly.
Gronkowski was targeted 18 times in total. Brady seemed to have been forcing the ball to Gronk at times, but that’s a story for another time.
Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley did rush the football effectively when given carries. The two combined for 86 yards on 19 carries and 2 scores. Gronkowski had himself a sizable workload in his return and threw a key goal line block for Bolden on his touchdown scamper.
New England’s pass defense was not awful, though it was not anything to be satisfied with moving forward. Clearly the absence of Aqib Talib took its toll on the secondary, as Geno Smith completed 8 passes to Jeremy Kerley for a total of 97 yards and one touchdown. He also found David Nelson on 4 other occasions for 80 yards.
Rookie Logan Ryan arguably came away with the play off the day, intercepting a Smith pass and returning it 80 yards for a Patriots touchdown.
But it was the Jets rushing attack that ultimately proved to be the difference in this game. Chris Ivory ran it with authority and his offensive line was determined to generate the necessary running room for him to be effective. Ivory was a workhorse, carrying the ball 34 times for 104 yards.
Sure his 3.1 yards a carry may not be eye-popping, but he was able to pick up key first downs when his club needed it the most, especially in overtime. Smith was also able to get loose from the pocket, racking up 32 yards on 6 attempts.
The Patriots were without many key players on defense and it showed at times how much they were missed. New England was able to force overtime with a 44-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 16 seconds left in regulation despite having committed several poor mistakes.
In the extra frame, a failed opening drive out of the Patriots surrendered the ball over to New York. Some strong running by Chris Ivory set the Jets up with a 56-yarder for the win. Nick Folk booted it wide left and it looked as if the Patriots would take over a short field with a chance to put it away.
Shockingly, Chris Jones was flagged for a controversial 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing his teammate into the pile during the kick. The Jets were gifted new life and Folk got himself a chance at redemption. This time it was from just 42 yards. Folk nailed it, propelling the Jets to victory.
The penalty called on Jones marks the first time it has ever been called in a game.
The Patriots drop to 5-2 in defeat and snap a 12-game winning streak against the AFC East in doing so. They will host the Dolphins next week.