A pair of turnovers from the New York Jets led to 10 more Patriots points in the third quarter, building their lead to 23-9 with just 15 minutes to go.
The Patriots were in bad position to start off the half, with a penalty pushing them back to their own 10 on the opening kickoff. Predictably, the drive didn't go very far, and Zoltan Mesko could only just barely push the Jets back into their own territory with his punt.
The defense, however, was there to save the day. A 3-and-out led to a touchback, giving the Pats some room to work with. Initially, the Pats came up short, gaining just six yards on a 3rd-and-7, but the Jets were ready to make up for it. Zoltan Mesko's punt bounced off Joe McKnight's chest and through his arms, and the Patriots fell on the ball to set up Tom Brady with excellent field position.
For a minute, it seemed like Tom Brady had made good on that position. On a 3rd-and-11 play that seemed to last an eternity, Brady dodged defenders, stepped up, and eventually found a diving Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. Instead of six, though, the Patriots walked away with a five-yard penalty, as Gronkowski had gone out of bounds before catching the touchdown pass. The next play didn't pick up the 11 yards they needed, and the Patriots would have to settle for three.
They would not be without their touchdown for long, however. On the ensuing drive Mark Sanchez' pass to Shonn Greene was tipped first by Greene, then by Jerod Mayo, eventually finding its way into the arms of Rob Ninkovich for the interception. Splitting the load equally between the air and ground, the Pats made their way to the New York 5-yard line, where Brady and Gronkowski made up for their missed opportunity with a 3rd down touchdown pass that would hold up, putting the Patriots on top by two touchdowns.