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Jets gain ground, beat Pats 17-14

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 12, 2006) -- Bill Belichick exchanged another cold handshake with Eric Mangini in the middle of the muddy field.

The Patriots coach certainly had no reason to embrace the protege who angered him by leaving for the New York Jets. After all, the Jets had just won 17-14 on a rainy day, tightening the AFC East race that once loomed as a runaway for New England.

"I have a lot of great memories from here," Mangini said. "I'd like to add this to it."

Belichick has refused to refer to the Jets coach by name since Mangini left after serving five years as his defensive backs coach and last season as defensive coordinator, helping the Patriots win three Super Bowl titles. Their first midfield meeting after the Patriots won in New York this season wasn't a study in warmth either.

Then again, why should any of the Patriots be happy after their 57-game streak without consecutive losses ended? The record of 60 games was set by San Francisco from 1995-99.

Jets quarterback Chad Pennington also had a hand in the previous losing streak when he led New York to a 30-17 win in December 2002 -- one week after the Patriots lost to Tennessee.

"Two in a row. I can't remember the last time we did it," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We've got to get back on the winning road if we want to be AFC champions."

Preseason favorites to win their fourth straight division title, the Patriots (6-3) lead the Jets (5-4) by just one game.

"To lose today, you don't forget about the playoffs, but as far as the division race, it's would have been basically over," said Jets linebacker Matt Chatham, who spent the last six seasons with the Patriots. "We know that we've at least kept ourselves alive."

Relying on short gains and long drives, the Jets built enough of a lead to repel a late comeback and end a seven-game losing streak to the Patriots.

"We knew we had to have precise execution and, in the meantime, play a great defense," because of the muddy field and slippery ball, Pennington said.

Mangini clearly learned something from Belichick that his players picked up, from the pressure the Jets put on Tom Brady to their two takeaways.

"When you make plays against the pressure, it tends to ease it off a little bit," Brady said, "but we just didn't make enough plays."

Pennington did, despite the rain and mist that dictated that both teams rely on runs and short passes.

"The field was a mess," said Kevan Barlow, who scored on a 2-yard run for the Jets. "One play, I almost took it to the house, but the mud got me."

Pennington led two long scoring drives, one covering 16 plays that led to Barlow's touchdown and a 7-3 lead. The other was 15-play drive that was capped by Mike Nugent's 34-yard field goal and gave the Jets a 10-6 lead with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

The Jets made it 17-6 on Pennington's 22-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery with 4:45 left after an interception by Erik Coleman.

The Patriots then drove 69 yards in 31 seconds to draw within 17-14 on Brady's 15-yard scoring pass to Reche Caldwell on a pass that was tipped by New York's Kerry Rhodes. Brady and Caldwell then combined on a two-point conversion.

After a punt, the Patriots took over at their 11 with 1:08 and no timeouts left. New England reached the Jets' 45 before Brady spiked the ball with nine seconds left. But he was sacked by Shaun Ellis on the final play. Brady completed 25 of 37 passes for 255 yards.

"We just couldn't stop them on defense," Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown said. "And when we did stop them, we had to use all our timeouts."

Pennington was 22 for 33 for 168, an average of 7.6 yards per completion. Barlow gained 75 yards on 17 carries. The Jets already have surpassed last season's victory total of four.

Following a 27-20 loss to Indianapolis in Week 9 in which Brady threw four interceptions, the Patriots fell to 2-3 at home and 4-1 in the division.

They led 3-0 on Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal four seconds into the second quarter before Barlow put the Jets in front on an 81-yard drive lasting 9:12. Gostkowski kicked a 21-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 7-6 with four seconds left in the half.

The Patriots played without both starting safeties -- Rodney Harrison with a broken shoulder blade and Eugene Wilson with a hamstring injury -- who were major contributors to the defense Mangini coached last season.

Now, though, he often refers to New England as "the other place," and Belichick has continually avoided giving his former assistant any praise.

"We all have our own reasons for why we wanted to beat New England," Pennington said. "Eric has his reasons, I have my reasons and we have ours as a team."

Notes: Corey Dillon's 50-yard run was his longest in three years with the Patriots. ... Brady is 9-2 as a starter against the Jets. ... The Jets won despite being out-gained 377-278 in total yards.

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