FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The fourth quarter started just in time for Tom Brady to overcome some early drops and lead the Patriots on a comeback.
And it ended just in time for New England to hold on for a victory.
Brady overcame New England’s shaky first three quarters by throwing for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth, and the Patriots defeated the New York Jets 30-23 on Sunday to remain unbeaten.
Brady completed 13 of 16 passes for 135 yards in the final quarter to overcome a 20-16 deficit and give New England (6-0) a two-game lead over the Jets in the AFC East. The Super Bowl MVP was 34 of 54 for 355 yards overall — numbers that would have been even better if not for the 11 drops by his receivers, six by newly activated Brandon LaFell.
The Jets rallied in the final minute, kicking a field goal on first down and then recovering the onside kick with 15 seconds left. But after a short pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick left the Jets 37 yards from the tying score, a false-start penalty on Brandon Marshall ended the game.
Rob Gronkowski had a career-high 11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, Danny Amendola had eight for 86 and a TD and Brady also scored on a keeper from the 1 to give the defending Super Bowl champions their ninth straight victory, dating to last year’s playoffs. Brady also had an 11-yard scramble on a third-and-10, and with 15 rushing yards he was the Patriots’ leading runner.
The Jets (4-2) sacked Brady three times in the first half and the NFL’s top-ranked defense otherwise made him uncomfortable in the pocket to take a 13-10 halftime lead. But the Patriots’ injury-plagued offensive line responded in the second half, and so did Brady.
New York still led 20-16 after Fitzpatrick hit Chris Ivory for a 9-yard score late in the third and Nick Folk kicked the second of his three field goals. Brady was 7 for 8 for 85 yards on the next drive, finishing it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Amendola, who was upended before landing on the goal line.
The Jets went four-and-out and then Brady took over again, completing seven of nine attempts for 65 yards and ending it on a 15-yarder to a wide open Gronkowski, who trotted in untouched to make it 30-20.
The Jets, who had won two in a row, had hoped to tie New England for the AFC East lead and take control of a division that has been dominated by the four-time Super Bowl champs. But now they must wait for the Dec. 27 rematch in New York, when the Jets will try to beat the Patriots for just the second time in 11 tries.
Fitzpatrick fumbled on the second play of the game, giving the Patriots the ball at the New York 19. After losing one yard in three plays — including Brady’s first sack of the game — Stephen Gostkowski kicked the first of his three field goals.
Folk tied it for New York and then the Jets went 83 yards on the next drive to take a 10-3 lead on Fitzpatrick’s 5-yard pass to Jeremy Kerley.
On the next New England possession, the Patriots stalled with a third-and-10 at the Jets 13, but Brady scrambled for 11 yards for the first down. James White was stopped short of the goal line and, after an incompletion to Gronkowski, Brady connected with the big tight end but he couldn’t get into the end zone.
On fourth down from the 1, Brady jumped over the line on a keeper to make it 10-10.
Gostkowski’s second field goal gave New England the 13-10 lead going into the half.
Fitzpatrick finished 22 of 39 for 295 yards and two touchdowns. Ivory, who entered as the AFC’s leading rusher, was held to 41 yards on 17 carries while dealing with a sore hamstring.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.