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Patriots hold off Jets after controversial touchback call

The Jets (3-3) gave the Patriots (4-2) all they could handle on Sunday in a 24-17 New England victory at MetLife Stadium as Tom Brady set the NFL regular-season record for wins with 187. Here's what we learned:

  1. With 8:31 to go in the fourth quarter, a seemingly routine 4-yard Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown was reviewed and overturned, cementing a decision from the NFL's team of replay officials that will be discussed all week long. Seferian-Jenkins, who appeared to momentarily bobble the football en route to the ground, was said to have fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone resulting in a touchback.

The masses did not seem to agree. CBS color analyst Dan Fouts called it "one of the strangest decisions on a call like that I've ever seen," while Fox analyst Mike Pereira, the league's former officiating head, said on Twitter there "does not seem like enough evidence to change the ruling." Seferian-Jenkins was in disbelief and ran toward the officiating crew after the call was made. A shot of him sitting perplexed on the sidelines was a mainstay throughout the remaining broadcast.

"From my angle and replay, I didn't see the ball fumble," Jets coach Todd Bowles said after the game. "So, I saw it bobble and I saw green gain control of it and go from there."

  1. The Jets settled for a field goal and still had a chance to tie the game. With less than a minute to play, Josh McCown converted a fourth-and-12 to Robby Anderson on a crossing route that produced 32 yards. While the drive was eventually tamped out thanks to zero Jets timeouts and a momentarily effective Patriots pass rush, it was indicative of the Jets' scrappiness. McCown and Co. held a 14-point lead in the first half which, according to ESPN stats, was the first 14-point lead the Jets have had over the Patriots in the opening half since 2008. They identified a potential mismatch between Anderson and Malcolm Butler and were not afraid of attempting deep passes throughout the afternoon.
  1. How did the Jets take the Patriots to the limit? While there was a memorable pass interference call on Rob Gronkowski, it seemed the officials were allowing a greater range of physicality from the defensive backs. This aided the Jets, who went after Rob Gronkowski (six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns) with both star rookie safety Jamal Adams and Kony Ealy at the line. The Patriots were also flagged multiple times for "pick" plays.
  1. Tom Brady and the Patriots survived because they had superior weapons. Even with Ealy jamming him, Gronkowski was still balletic enough to maintain his course and swoop across Adams for a short goal-line touchdown just before halftime. Brandin Cooks led New England with six catches for 93 yards and appears to be on the verge of becoming the team's most valuable offensive chess piece not named Brady. Cooks' field-stretching ability was on full display as was his next-level ball-tracking skills on a 42-yard pass that set up Gronkowski's first touchdown just before halftime.
  1. What does this game say about New England's defense? Every quarterback who has faced the Patriots this year has put up 300 yards or more passing, according to the CBS broadcast. That Josh McCown did it Sunday does not feel like a further indictment (McCown has played above average football this year) but it doesn't feel like a confidence building moment either. The Patriots hit McCown 10 times and sacked him four times. Matt Forte and Elijah McGuire averaged 2.4 and 2.2 yards per carry, respectively. With a Super Bowl rematch against the Falcons a week away, are they in a good enough place to contain a much better quarterback and weapon set?
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