It felt like the New York Jets' season was on the line Thursday night in New England. They played like it, but came up one blocked field goal short.
It was a devastating ending to the Jets' best effort of the season. Geno Smith played mistake-free football and made a number of clutch throws in the fourth quarter to put his team in position to win. But the Jets always seem to find a unique way to lose tight games, and moral victories feel hollow for a 1-6 team when coach Rex Ryan's future is on the line. The Patriots haven't looked dominant each week, but they are ultimately 5-2 and have taken control of the AFC East with two division wins in the last five days. Here's what else you need to know:
- There was some poetic symmetry to the final play of the game. Last year, Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones was hit with a 15-yard penalty on a missed field-goal attempt in overtime by Jets kicker Nick Folk. That gave the Jets second life, and the Jets wound up winning the game. On Thursday, Jones got the block to seal the victory.
"Real happy for Chris," said an unusually giddy Belichick after the game. "After what happened last year, it was fitting."
- The Jets dominated the flow on the road, holding on to the ball for more than 40 minutes. They didn't punt until halfway through the third quarter. Six drives lasted at least nine plays, but too many red-zone trips ended with penalties or drops.
- Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson helped the Jets rush for the second-most yards (218) than any opponent visiting Foxborough since 2002. It's not a good sign for the Patriots' rush defense after captain Jerod Mayo was lost for the season. New England changed to a base 3-4 defense with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at outside linebacker to poor results.
- Tom Brady had his third straight strong game, even if he missed a few more throws this week. His game was defined by New England's touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He overcame some big drops from his receivers and delivered a beautiful sidearm throw on third down when a free rusher was breathing down his neck.
Brady's third touchdown came on third-and-goal from the 20-yard line where he had to throw on the run. He's moved well in the pocket to avoid pressure of late. After all that panic three weeks ago, Brady has 13 touchdowns and two picks on the season.
- Geno Smith played his best game of 2014, finishing with 226 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. He's been careful the last two weeks, avoiding big mistakes even when he's pressured. That can occasionally lead to holding the ball too long, but Smith did an excellent job making plays with his legs. He finished with 37 yards rushing and had a lot of nice throws on the run. Smith showed toughness getting up after plenty of big hits.
- One of Smith's worst throws of the night came on the team's two-point conversion attempt with 2:31 left. Don't blame the play call. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had a terrific night and got a favorable matchup with tight end Jace Amaro on safety Patrick Chung. Geno handled a poor snap but then rushed a bad throw.