Benjarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 27 times for 136 yards including 10 big carries on his teams clock bleeding final drive, and the New England Patriots gained a measure of revenge over the New York Jets today at Gillette Stadium, 30-21.
The Jets beat the Patriots in their divisional playoff game back in January on the same field after the Pats had gone 14-2 during the regular season. The win today moves the Pats to 4-1 on the season, while the Jets drop below .500 for the first time this season at 2-3.
The game had an odd ebb and flow where both teams went through simultaneous periods of offensive ineptitude and brilliance.
After a pair of three and outs to start the game, the Patriots found their groove on offense with an impressive quick-strike drive down the field that saw Tom Brady hook up with Wes Welker 32 yards down the field. Green-Ellis did the rest, toting the ball four straight plays in the redzone before punching it in from 3 yards out to give give the Pats a 7-0 lead.
On their next possession, the Patriots were spotted good field position, but were unable to move the ball and settled for a 44 yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
Finally, the Jets offense began to show some signs of life after being largely stifled through most of the first half. Jets running back Shonn Greene demonstrated the kind of power that made him a star at Iowa, leading a 78 yard drive and dragging Pats defenders with him on almost every carry. He slammed the ball into the endzone on the 13th play of the drive and the Jets were on the board.
The score marked the first offensive touchdown for the Jets in six quarters.
Right before the half though, the Patriots had an opportunity to extend the lead, after they drove down to the redzone against the Jets prevent defense. On third down with nine seconds remaining, Brady threw to Aaron Hernandez in the endzone, but Hernandez bobbled a sure catch into the hands of Antonio Cromartie. It was the first redzone interception for Brady in his career at Gillette Stadium.
In the second half, the Patriots came out looking to make up for their mistake, as Brady hit Welker down the seam for 73 yards on the opening play of the half. Only the blazing speed of Darrelle Revis saved a touchdown. It was short lived though, as Tom Brady hit Deion Branch in the corner of the endzone for his first touchdown pass of the game.
The 73 yard reception by Welker alowed him to become the NFL’s all-time leading receiver through the first 5 weeks of the season. Welker also went over 100 yards receiving for the third time this year.
With the Patriots ahead 17-7 and the momentum fully in their favor, Jets return man Joe McKnight returned the ensuing kick-off 88 yards to the Patriots 20 yard line. 3 plays later, Mark Sanchez found Jeremy Kerley in the corner of the endzone for a 10 yard touchdown pass, the first of Kerley’s career, to make it a 17-14 game.
The defenses then took over, with the Jets and Patriots each forcing a pair of three and outs . The Jets defense was in Brady’s face most of the afternoon, picking up 4 sacks and 5 hits on the future hall of famer, but never were they more ferocious than during this stretch.
Finally though, after having to start the drive at their own 23 yard line, Brady put together one of his most impressive drives of the season, marching the team 77 yards in 11 plays, capped by a Green-Ellis TD run, that helped the Pats match their largest lead of the game at 24-14.
The fourth quarter began when the Jets were backed up in their own end of the field and forced to punt out of their endzone. Wes Welker took the punt at mid-field and returned it 25 yards to the Jet 25 yard line. The Pats were unable to move the ball, but Gostkowski connected on his second field goal to give the team a 27-14 lead.
With the game getting away from them, the Jets responded with a critical drive that saw Shonn Greene continue to bowl over defenders and Mark Sanchez find his first sustained rhythm of the game. The team moved 85 yards in 11 methodical plays, before Sanchexz hooked up with receiver Santonio Holmes on a 21 yard TD pass to bring the Jets to within six at 27-21.
Needing a long drive to both, give their defense a rest and bleed time from the clock, the Patriots turned to Benjarvus Green-Ellis again. The bruising back carried the ball 10 times for 58 yards on the drive and drove the Patriots down to the Jets nine yard line before being stopped on a 3rd and short. A 28 yard field goal by Gostkowski sealed the 30-21 win for the Patriots.
Tom Brady’s lone touchdown pass ends a streak of 13 consecutive games with multiple TD passes. That tied an NFL record held by Peyton Manning.
The Patriots win is their 30th straight regular season victory at Gillette Stadium.
The 136 yards by Green-Ellis is the most by a Patriots RB since 2008.
Tom Brady: 24/33 321 yards, 1 TD 1 INT
Benjarvus Green-Ellis: 27 carries 136 yards, 2 TD
Wes Welker: 5 catches 124 yards, 0 TD
Deion Branch: 7 catches 74 yards, 1 TD
Mark Sanchez: 16/26 166 yards, 2 TD 0 INT
Shonn Greene: 21 carries 83 yards, 1 TD
Santonio Holmes: 4 catches 60 yards, 1 TD
Jeremy Kerley: 3 catches 35 yards, 1 TD