NOTE: View the photo gallery above for scenes from Sunday's 29-26 Patriots' overtime victory at Gillette Stadium.
It looked as if the New England Patriots were once again headed down a road becoming all too familiar this season when the New York Jets rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 26-23 lead with 1:37 left to play.
But Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady reminded the NFL why he is one of the most clutch players in league history, orchestrating the game-tying drive at the end of regulation - a 43-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski – and the eventual game-winning drive in overtime - a 48-yard field goal by Gostkowski. The game-winning drive was Brady's 35th of his career.
While Brady and the Patriots offense came through to put New England ahead, it was the Pats defense that made sure the team came away with the win.
Revised overtime rules allow each team to possess the ball unless the first team with possession scores a touchdown. The Pats kicked a field goal on the first posession of overtime so the Jets had an opportunity to win the game with a touchdown.
New York was able to march from its own 15 to 40-yard line before the Patriots' defense made its biggest play of the game. Rob Ninkovich came hard around the end to hit Mark Sanchez and knock the ball out of the quarterback's hand. The ball was recovered by New England and the Pats walked off winners to take over sole possession of first place in the AFC East with a 4-3 record.
Here's a compilation of game notes from Sunday's win in Foxborough, courtesy of the Patriots Media Relations Department:
PATRIOTS TIE RAMS FOR MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 350 OR MORE YARDS
The Patriots gained a total of 381 yards of offense against the Jets, and have now gained at least 350 total yards in 16 consecutive games, tying the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the longest such streak in NFL history.
DEVIN MCCOURTY HAS A 104-YARD KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN; SECOND LONGEST KICKOFF RETURN IN TEAM HISTORY
Devin McCourty had 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, the second longest kickoff return in team history. Ellis Hobbs has the longest in team history with a 108-yard return for a touchdown at the New York Jets on Sept. 9, 2007. McCourty’s scoring return was the Patriots’ 25th kickoff return for a touchdown and was the sixth kickoff return of at least 100 yards in team history. McCourty’s return was the first kickoff return for a touchdown for New England since Brandon Tate had a 103-yard return at Miami on October 4, 2010.
DEFENSE WALKS OFF WITH THE WIN
Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham combined on a 15-yard sack of Mark Sanchez in overtime, and Ninkovich forced and recovered a Sanchez fumble on the play, giving the Patriots possession and ending the game with a 29-26 overtime win for New England. The forced fumble was Ninkovich’s team-leading fourth of the season, and his fourth forced fumble in as many weeks. Mike Vrabel had five forced fumbles in 2007, which was the most for any Patriots player within the last 20 years.
GOSTKOWSKI TIES IT, THEN WINS IT, AND CONTINUES TO PERFORM IN THE CLUTCH
Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 43-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to tie the game at 26 and send the contest into overtime, and then hit a 48-yarder in overtime to give the Patriots a 29-26 lead that served as the eventual winning margin. The overtime field goal was Gostkowski’s second career game-winner in overtime, with his other overtime game-winner coming on October 17, 2010, with a 35-yarder in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens that gave New England a 23-20 win. Following his two field goals today, Gostkowski is now 23-for-25 (92 percent) in his career in the fourth quarter or overtime when the score of the game is within seven points. He has now hit 22 of his last 23 such attempts (95.7 percent) since the 2007 season.
BRADY HAS 35th CAREER GAME-WINNING PERFORMANCE
Tom Brady engineered his 35th career game-winning performance to lead his team to victory following a fourth-quarter deficit or tie. New England trailed the Jets 26-23 and gained possession at its own 21-yard line with 1:37 remaining. From there, Brady led a 6-play, 54-yard drive that ended in a 43-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski as time expired to send the game to overtime. In the extra frame, Brady led a 12-play, 54-yard drive that set up Gostkowski’s 48-yarder to give the Patriots a 29-26 lead.
PATRIOTS ARE PROFICIENT IN OVERTIME
The Patriots’ 29-26 overtime victory against the Jets raised Tom Brady’s career record in overtime to 9-1, including 8-1 in the regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs. New England is 4-1 in overtime at Gillette Stadium, and Bill Belichick is now 10-3 in overtime as Patriots head coach.
PATRIOTS ARE PERFECT WHEN WEARING THROWBACKS AT HOME
The Patriots are now 6-0 when wearing throwback uniforms at home. New England has worn uniforms featuring the old “Pat Patriot” logo at home six times since switching to the current logo in 1993. In addition to today’s game against the Jets, the Patriots have also worn throwbacks at home against Green Bay on Oct. 2, 1994 (17-16 win), against Buffalo on September 14, 2009 (25-24 win), against Tennessee on October 18, 2009 (59-0 win), against Minnesota on October 31, 2010 (28-14 win), and against the N.Y. Jets on October 9, 2011 (30-21 win).
PATRIOTS RECORD FIRST SAFETY SINCE 2006
The Patriots registered a safety for the first time since 2006 when Jets QB Mark Sanchez fumbled a handoff that rolled into the end zone before Sanchez kicked it out of the end zone in the second quarter, giving the Patriots a 16-7 lead. The last time the Patriots had a safety was when Ty Warren sacked JP Losman in the end zone vs. Buffalo on September 10, 2006. Today’s safety against the Jets was the 26th safety in team history.
PATRIOTS IMPROVE ON NFL-LEADING DIVISION RECORD SINCE 2001
With the victory over the Jets, the New England Patriots own a 55-15 (.786) record in regular season AFC East games since the beginning of the 2001 season, compiling the best intra-division record of any team in the NFL. The Patriots have now won six straight games against AFC East opponents in the regular season, including 10 straight home games against AFC East opponents. Their last home loss against an AFC East opponent in the regular season was a 34-31 loss to the New York Jets on November 13, 2008.
ROB GRONKOWSKI HAS FIRST TWO-TOUCHDOWN GAME OF 2012 AND 10th CAREER GAME WITH AT LEAST TWO RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS
Rob Gronkowski scored on a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter for his first two-touchdown receiving game of 2012 and the 10th game of his career with two or more touchdown receptions in a game. Last season, Gronkowski set an NFL record for a tight end with seven games with two touchdown receptions. The NFL record for most two-plus reception games in a season is eight by Randy Moss with the Patriots in 2007. Gronkowski’s 2011 total is tied with Cris Carter (1995) and Jerry Rice (1987) for the second most games with two or more touchdowns in a single season.
GRONKOWSKI NOW HAS 33 CAREER TOUCHDOWNS (32 RECEIVING AND 1 RUSHING)
Gronkowski saw the end zone twice against New York, and since he entered the NFL in 2010, Gronkowski has 32 career touchdown receptions and 33 total touchdowns. The NFL record for most overall touchdowns in a player’s first three NFL seasons is 47 by Barry Sanders and the record for most touchdown receptions in a player’s first three NFL seasons is 43 by Randy Moss. Gronkowski (10 touchdowns in 2010 and 18 in 2011) can become the first tight end in NFL history with three straight 10-plus touchdown seasons. Gronkowski and Antonio Gates (13 in 2004 and 10 in 2005) are the only tight ends to have back-to-back 10-plus touchdown seasons.
PATRIOTS OFFENSE ON PACE TO SET THE NFL RECORD FOR MOST FIRST DOWNS IN A SEASON
The Patriots have 203 first downs through seven games this season, giving them an average of 29 per game and a pace to finish the year with 464, which would smash the NFL record of 416 total first downs by New Orleans in 2011. The Patriots’ 399 first downs in 2011 are second all-time in NFL history.
PATRIOTS ON PACE TO BREAK FRANCHISE RECORD FOR MOST NET YARDS
The Patriots have 3,053 net yards through the first seven games in 2012 and are on pace to finish with 6,978 yards, a total which would rank third in NFL history. The Patriots finished the 2011 season with 6,848 total net yards, setting a new franchise record for most total net yards in a season. That total is fourth all-time in NFL history.
WELKER EXTENDS STREAK TO 101 CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE RECEPTION
Wes Welker extended his streak to 101 straight regular season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins. He has a streak of 84 straight regular-season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record. Welker has caught at least one pass in each of his 91 games with the Patriots, including seven postseason games. The last time that Welker did not catch a pass in a game was December 24, 2005 when he was with Miami. He is one of 39 NFL players to have a streak of at least 100 games with one reception.
WELKER RECEPTION PACE
Wes Welker has 54 receptions through seven games this season and is on pace to total 123 catches in 2012. If Wes Welker reaches 100 receptions in 2012, he will become the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons. Welker’s four seasons with 100 or more receptions ties Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice for the NFL record.
GRONKOWSKI ON PACE FOR ANOTHER SOLID SEASON
After his two-touchdown performance against the Jets, Rob Gronkowski has 35 catches for 434 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. After seven games in 2011, Gronkowski had 36 catches for 495 yards and five touchdowns. If Gronkowski keeps up his current 2012 pace, he would finish with 80 catches for 992 yards and nine touchdowns.
RIDLEY STARTS STRONG
Stevan Ridley has a total of 589 rushing yards through seven games this season. Ridley is on pace to total 1,346 rushing yards, which would give him the 15th 1,000-yard rushing season in Patriots history and make him the 12th Patriots’ player to reach 1,000 yards rushing.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS CONTINUES FOR BRADY
Tom Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 39 straight regular season games following a 17-yard touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski in the first quarter. It is the third longest streak, behind Drew Brees at 49 (current) and Johnny Unitas (47) (1956-60). Brady’s current streak started when he threw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in 2010 and 2011 and now the first five games of 2012. The old team record was 19 games, also set by Brady.
SHANE VEREEN HAS FIRST NFL START; SETS CAREER HIGH WITH 49 YARDS
2011 second round pick RB Shane Vereen made his first NFL start and finished the game with a career high 49 yards on eight carries.
MAYO ON PACE FOR HIGH TACKLE TOTAL
Jerod Mayo had 11 tackles against the Jets, giving him a total of 83 total tackles in 2012. Mayo has had 10 or more tackles in five of his seven games in 2012. Mayo is on pace to tally 190 tackles this season, which would mark his fifth straight year with 100 or more tackles. He is the first player in New England history to register 100 tackles in his first four NFL seasons. He is the fifth Patriots player to register at least four consecutive 100 tackle seasons.
DENNARD MAKERS FIRST CAREER START AND REGISTERS FIRST NFL INTERCEPTION
Seventh-round draft pick Alfonzo Dennard made his first NFL start and registered his first NFL interception in the second quarter. He is the fourth member of the 2012 draft class to start a game, joining Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Tavon Wilson.
BRADY ON PACE FOR 4,809 YARDS.
Tom Brady has 2,104 yards through seven games this season and is on pace to total 4,809 yards this season. Brady finished the 2011 season with 5,235 passing yards and joined Drew Brees (5,476 in 2011 and 5,069 in 2008), Dan Marino (5,084 in 1984) and Matthew Stafford (5,038 in 2011) as the only players in NFL history to reach 5,000 passing yards in a single season.
PATRIOTS IN PERSPECTIVE
- New England inched ahead of the Jets in the all-time regular-season series between the teams, with today’s victory giving New England a 52-51-1 advantage in the all-time series. Including the Patriots’ 2-1 record against the Jets in the playoffs, the Patriots now lead the all-time series 54-52-1.
- The Patriots improved to an NFL-best 216-108 since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (including regular season and playoff games).
- The Patriots improved to an NFL-best 78-16 at home since Gillette Stadium was built in 2002 (including regular season and playoff games).
- The Patriots improved to an NFL-best 26-5 at home against divisional opponents since Gillette Stadium was built in 2002.
- Tom Brady improved to 16-4 as a starting quarterback against the Jets in the regular season (and to 17-5 overall, including a 1-1 record in the playoffs).
- Today’s game was the 198th consecutive home sellout for the Patriots, including every preseason, regular-season and playoff game since the 1994 regular-season opener against Buffalo on September 11, 1994.
- Kyle Love sacked Mark Sanchez for a 4-yard loss in the first quarter, setting up a third-and-11 from the Jets’ own 9-yard line that New York did not convert.
- Ras-I Dowling swatted down a Sanchez pass intended for Chaz Schilens on third-and-two in the first quarter, setting up a New York punt on the next play and giving the Patriots possession.
- Kyle Arrington broke up Sanchez pass intended for Jeremy Kerley on third down in the second quarter, forcing the Jets into a long field goal just before halftime.
- Dont’a Hightower sacked Mark Sanchez for a 10-yard loss on third-and-seven in the fourth quarter, pushing the Jets back and forcing them into a 43-yard field goal attempt.
- Rob Ninkovich stopped Joe McKnight for a 2-yard loss on first down in overtime.