The Jets cover Ellis Hobbs’ second-half KO return expertly, with Wallace Wright, the subject of Eric Allen’s Special Teams Saturday feature, and Cody Spencer dropping Hobbs at the Pats 21.
Then Bryan Thomas — with his third sack of the season, surpassing last year’s 2.5 total — and David Barrett on a nickel blitz drop QB Matt Cassel twice and the Jets look to be sitting pretty.
But Brett Favre, despite converting an improbable third-and-22 with a 28-yard completion to Chansi Stuckey — equaling the Jets’ longest third-down conversion since 1990 — can’t dig the offense out of a hole, then threw his first interception in Green & White, with S Brandon Meriweather returning to the Jets 31.
Cassel looks flustered again on his first play, a 5-yard sack by NT Kris Jenkins, but rebounds with a third-and-9 flip that Kevin Faulk takes for 22 yards to first-and-goal at the 8. In short order, Sammy Morris goes high over his left guard to score the game’s first TD and the Jets are down, 13-3, with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
With Stephen Gostkowski adding his third FG with 17 seconds left in the frame for a 16-3 lead, the return of Fireman Ed to the stands after a year’s injury absence and a different look for the Flight Crew in their new Marc Ecko-designed uniforms doesn’t matter — the crowd is in search of some big plays to become reenergized.
The energy returns on the Jets’ drive that starts at their 20 — after another Gostkowski touchback —goes for the first five minutes of the final frame, and ends successfully when Chansi Stuckey shakes free of S Rodney Harrison, who trips on a teammate, and catches Favre’s 2-yard feather pass for the Jets’ first TD of the game. It’s 16-10 with 10:18 on the clock.
Highlights on that drive: Favre going 6-for-6 for 51 yards and rookie TE Dustin Keller making his first official reception a big gainer of 19 yards on third-and-6.
But the defense needs a stop and is having trouble as the Patriots move toward the red zone. They can’t stop Matt Cassel’s pass to Sammy Morris for 4 yards on third-and-2, and Calvin Pace’s rush ends up with helmet-to-helmet contact on Cassel and a 15-yard roughing call.
Pace deflects a third-down pass headed for TE David Thomas in the end zone, so Gostkowski comes on for his fourth FG from 27 yards. It’s 19-10 Pats, and while the Jets still have a chance, it’s not much. They have two timeouts left, the Patriots have none, and they need 10 points in the final 5:18.
The Jets have no answer this day. Favre suffers a 20-yard sack, with Leon Washington unable to slow Adalius Thomas’ path to a grasp on Favre’s shoulder pads. Ben Graham’s best punt in a 27-yard-net day still is returned into plus territory by Kevin Faulk, and the Pats burn the game’s last 3:45 for the 19-10 win, their eighth straight in the Meadowlands over the Jets.
Tags: Brett Favre, Calvin Pace, Ellis Hobbs, Matt Cassel, Stephen Gostkowski
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