Trailing 27-17 entering the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored the game's final 13 points to come away with a 30-27 road victory over the Jets on Monday night. Trailing 27-20 with six minutes left, J.C. Jackson's interception of Joe Flacco set up Cam Newton's second rushing touchdown of the game. The Patriots then forced a quick Jets punt before Newton's 20-yard completion to Jakobi Myers set up Nick Folk's game-winning 51-yard field goal as time expired.
Along with his two rushing touchdowns, Newton threw for 274 yards while helping the Patriots improve to 3-5 on the season. Myers led all receivers with 169 yards, while running back Damien Harris rushed for a team-high 71 yards before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury. Flacco, starting in place of Sam Darnold, threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns that included two touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman. The Jets were unable to hold off New England's late rally, however, and New York is 0-9 for the first time in franchise history.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Monday's AFC East battle:
Why the Patriots won
It'd be easy to chalk this up to the Jets being the Jets, because boy did New York all but beg New England to take this one despite a late 10-point lead. But let's give credit where it's due: Cam Newton looks physically spent half the time he's ripping the ball, but he willed his team back into this, taking what the defense gave him, grinding out the short yards on the ground and making do with one of the least imposing receiving corps in the NFL. He also started very efficiently. Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead were both productive carrying the ball as well, fighting for hard yards all the way to the close. Jakobi Meyers certainly stepped up to lead the pass catchers, whereas J.C. Jackson deserves a tip of the cap for keeping his head up and capitalizing on a bad Joe Flacco ball in the fourth quarter, redeeming himself for countless coverage slip-ups with a game-altering turnover.
Why the Jets lost
It feels wrong to negatively spotlight Joe Flacco on a night where the grizzled fill-in somehow often looked like the best and calmest QB on the field (and Flacco was good for long stretches, throwing some beauties to both Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder), but his fourth-quarter interception -- a mindless heave into double coverage with New York nursing a one-score lead with under six minutes to play -- all but ensured a New England comeback. Maybe Adam Gase deserves more of the blame there, for allowing such a risky play to be called in that situation. Either way, that -- and poor blocking in the ensuing drives -- marred three-plus quarters of surprising competence for Flacco, rookie Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman, who torched the Pats all night. Defensively, Gregg Williams' unit fared just fine but also saved its worst hiccups for crunch time, surrendering one too many big runs and leaving far too much space in the secondary on New England's final drives.
The Jets were up seven with just under six minutes to play in the game, on track to send the Patriots to 2-6 and hand their AFC East rivals a fifth straight loss. Then, inexplicably, Flacco aired out a bomb into double coverage, not only allowing J.C. Jackson to get sweet revenge for Perriman's repeated downfield success but allowing the Patriots to tie things up and, ultimately, steal the victory. Whether it was just a poor decision or a poor play call, it was the biggest momentum shift of a night owned by New York.
Play of the game
Newton made some good throws, and Jackson's pick was of the utmost importance for the Pats. But Flacco honestly had the best throw of the night when he hit Crowder in the corner of the end zone to give the Jets a surprising (and, ultimately, fleeting) 20-10 lead, with the wideout capping the score with a picture-perfect toe tap:
The Patriots (3-5) will face an even taller task in Week 10, when they host the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) on "Sunday Night Football." The Jets (0-9), meanwhile, will get a week off to reflect on their continued winless streak before visiting the Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) in Week 11.