The New York Jets pulled out what will likely be celebrated as one of the biggest wins in recent memory – along with a little controversy to go with it.
New York rookie quarterback Geno Smith upstaged New England quarterback Tom Brady in leading “Gang Green” to a thrilling 30-27 come-from-behind victory over the Patriots (5-2) in overtime Sunday. Nick Folk booted his second game-winning kick in as many weeks with a 42-yarder to clinch it for the Jets.
But the play that preceded the final outcome will certainly be discussed and debated in the local and national media for days, weeks, even months for that matter.
After New York’s defense, which played a huge role in stifling Brady and the Patriots’ offense for most of the afternoon, thwarted New England’s first possession of the extra session, the Jets used a crafty combination of the running and throwing game to move the ball into Patriots’ territory, needing a score to close out the contest.
However, the Jets (4-3) managed to get to the Patriots’ 38-yard line, setting up a 56-yard kick for Folk. The kick was long and to the left, but New England rookie DL Chris Jones drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for illegally pushing a teammate into the Jets interior line during the attempt.
The penalty, a first to be called in the NFL, proved to be costly as New York needed three plays to give Folk a much closer try. He nailed the clincher between the uprights as the Jets picked up a key victory in the AFC East Division.
“It was a great team effort," Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan said. "It was a great balanced effort from our team. The defense played outstanding, especially in the third quarter. When you look at it, it was a great game."
The Jets came out clicking on all cylinders to start the contest and seem poised to take the lead in the second quarter. New York’s offensive line held firm for Smith, who played perhaps one of his best games donning a green-and-white uniform. But with the game tied at seven midway through the first quarter, Smith went back for a short screen pass that was telegraphed by the Patriots’ Logan Ryan, who returned the interception 79 yards for a 14-7 New England lead.
A Steven Ridley TD run added to the Patriots advantage as they took a 21-10 lead into the locker room.
With a spirited defensive effort along with Smith’s passing efficiency, the Jets took control in the second half, and temporary regained the lead. After Antonio Allen returned a Brady pass for a “pick six”, Smith followed with an 8-yard TD run to lift New York from an 11-point deficit and a 24-21 lead.
Brady and Co. rallied to tie the game late in regulation on a pair of Stephen Gostkowski field goals before the crazy sequence in OT closed out a memorable day for a packed house at MetLife Stadium.
Smith completed 17-of-33 attempts for 233 yards, while Brady was 22-for-46 for 228 yards but got sacked four times. One other key stat that paid dividends was the “Time of Possession” category. The Jets held the ball for almost 50 minutes – 46:13 to be exact – compared to New England, who handled the pigskin for only 23:40.
"We don't look at any records,” Smith said afterwards. “We go out there and we fight as a team. That's every single week. That's our mantra."
New York will face another road test next week when they travel to Cincinnati for a showdown with the Bengals at 4:05 p.m.