Winning the coin toss and choosing to defer, the Patriots found their bottom-ranked passing defense tested early. They came up short. Mark Sanchez would pick on Devin McCourty early and often, pushing the Jets into the red zone in rapid fashion, and nearly had a long touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes before the receiver was stopped as much by the yard line as by any defender (McCourty and Ihedigbo collided as Holmes picked up the reception).
As it had in Pittsburgh, however, the Patriots' defense proved quite a bit stronger with their backs up against the wall. A pair of incomplete passes and a short run left the Jets turning to Nick Folk to put them on top, but from just 24 yards away, New York's kicker missed for only the second time this season, shanking one to the left and keeping the game scoreless.
New England would end up faring rather better on special teams. With passes to the tight ends and Chad Ochocinco, Tom Brady and the Patriots took the ball into Jets territory on their first drive of the game before a penalty and a negative run set them back into a 3rd-and-17 hole. Brady's pass to Deion Branch was incomplete (and nearly picked off), giving Stephen Gostkowski a chance to go up early. While his attempt was from 50 yards, Gostkowski drilled it right down the middle for three.
After a short Jets drive was ended by a big sack from Andre Carter, the Patriots again put up points on their second possession, and not only was Chad Ochocinco in on the action--he was the star attraction. Finding himself wide open in the New York secondary, Ochocinco caught a long ball and then cut back inside to add to his reception, gaining 53 total yards on the play. Once again, though, the Pats would find themselves unable to find the end zone. A pair of questionable passes forced another field goal, and with just 36 yards to cover, Gostkowski put it through with ease.