FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Another game was slipping away from the New England Patriots down the stretch. This time, their opponent made the biggest mistakes.
The New York Jets’ final failure came when Rob Ninkovich knocked the ball out of Mark Sanchez’s hand in overtime and recovered the fumble, ending a 29-26 win Sunday that gave the Patriots sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
For the fourth time this season, a Patriots game was decided in the final two minutes. And, for the first time, they won.
The Patriots (4-3) moved into sole possession of first place in their division. The day started with all four teams tied at 3-3, but the Jets (3-4) and the Buffalo Bills lost, while the Miami Dolphins (3-3) were idle.
“There’s a lot of football left to be played,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “I don’t think anybody clinched anything today.”
Stephen Gostkowski’s 48-yard field goal put the Patriots ahead on the first possession of overtime. But each team gets the ball unless the first team with it scores a touchdown. So the Jets weren’t done.
The game might not have reached overtime had they capitalized on their chances late in regulation.
“We made too many mistakes but we had our opportunities,” New York coach Rex Ryan said. “It just stinks being on this end of it.”
Trailing 23-20, Sanchez threw a good pass to a wide-open Stephen Hill that would have given the Jets a first down inside the Patriots 20-yard line with just over two minutes left. But Hill dropped it and New York settled for a 43-yard tying field goal by Nick Folk.
Then, Devin McCourty fumbled the kickoff and Antonio Allen recovered for the Jets.
Sanchez was sacked for a 10-yard loss on third down and Folk kicked another 43-yarder for a 26-23 lead with 1:37 to go.
So all the Patriots needed to force OT was a field goal, not a TD, and Gostkowski kicked a 43-yarder on the final play of regulation.
After Gostkowski’s overtime field goal, the Jets moved to their 40 before Ninkovich got around right tackle Austin Howard and hit Sanchez high while Jermaine Cunningham got him low forcing a fumble.
Patriots 29, Jets 26 (OT)
NYJ—Greene 1 run (Folk kick)
NE—McCourty 104 kickoff return (Gostkowski kick)
NE—Gronkowski 17 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick)
NYJ—FG Folk 54
NYJ—FG Folk 21
NE—Gronkowski 2 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick)
NYJ—Keller 7 pass from Sanchez (Folk kick)
NYJ—FG Folk 43
NYJ—FG Folk 43
NE—FG Gostkowski 43
NE—FG Gostkowski 48
|Total Net Yards||403||381|
|Time of Poss.||35:49||31:43|
RUSHING—N.Y. Jets, Greene 16-54, McKnight 7-23, Hilliard 3-14, Tebow 4-12, Kerley 1-2, Grimes 1-1, Sanchez 1-0. New England, Ridley 17-65, Vereen 8-49, Woodhead 6-17.
PASSING—N.Y. Jets, Sanchez 28-41-1-328. New England, Brady 26-42-0-259.
RECEIVING—N.Y. Jets, Kerley 7-120, Keller 7-93, Greene 6-34, S.Hill 4-55, Reuland 1-11, Hilliard 1-8, Cumberland 1-4, Grimes 1-3. New England, Gronkowski 6-78, Welker 6-66, Hernandez 5-54, Woodhead 4-29, Edelman 2-7, Vereen 1-10, Branch 1-9, Lloyd 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.