Foxboro, MA – It wasn't pretty, but it was still a win for the Patriots.
Thanks to a defense that recorded four turnovers and sacked Geno Smith four times, New England held on for a 13-10 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night.
Still feeling the effects of the departure of several key offensive weapons in the offseason, and injuries to a few of those still remaining, Tom Brady was a subpar 19-for-39 for just 185 yards and an interception as New England (2-0) won its fifth straight game against the Jets.
With Danny Amendola out for a possible six weeks with a groin issue, and Rob Gronkowski still recovering from offseason forearm and back surgeries, Julian Edelman was the bulk of the offense as he caught 13 passes for 78 yards. Aaron Dobson caught the lone touchdown of the game for the Patriots, who have won 14 straight games against AFC East opponents thanks to this win and edging out a 23-21 victory over Buffalo to open the season last week.
"We have a long way to go still," said Brady. "No one is coming to save the day and we just have to fight through it and work harder. If we can get more consistent we can score more points."
Smith led the Jets (1-1) to victory last week with a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, but was picked off three times in the fourth quarter with his team down by three. He finished the game 15-for-35 for 214 yards. Bilal Powell's touchdown run in the third quarter was the only time the team found the end zone.
"His numbers would look a lot different if we caught the football," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said of Smith. "The young man had his moments today."
With rain beginning to fall at the halftime break and continuing throughout the second half, the teams exchanged punts to start the third quarter and the Jets started their second possession at their own 42.
After crossing midfield, Smith hit Santonio Holmes with a 14-yard pass at the right sideline and later found Powell for 11 yards. A 9-yard catch by Kellen Winslow brought the ball to the three and Powell took it in from there up the middle to make it a 13-10 game with 5:05 to play in the third.
The Patriots' offense continued to struggle, punting the ball over their next two possessions, but came up with a big turnover in their own territory as Aqib Talib picked off a Smith pass off a tipped ball at his own 11.
With 6:07 left in the game, the Jets got the ball at their own 20 and made it close to midfield facing a 3rd-and-4, but Smith was intercepted by Alfonzo Dennard with 4:23 to play.
Brady converted a 3rd-and-5 with a 9-yard pass to Edelman and the team was able to run the clock down to 56 seconds before the Jets got the ball back at their own 29 with no timeouts left.
It was a short-lived hope, though, as Smith was again picked off, this time by Talib to seal the win for the Patriots.
On the interception, Nick Mangold rolled on Talib's leg as he went out of bounds, prompting a penalty flag to fly and the two squads to come together along the Patriots sideline. Willie Colon and D'Brickshaw Ferguson were both thrown out after the two teams were separated and Brady took a knee to run out the clock.
New England started the game with the ball and it didn't take long for the team to get on the board. On the sixth play of the drive, Brady went to the play-action and dropped the ball down the right sideline to Dobson, who was behind the defense and went in untouched for a 39-yard score just over two minutes in.
Following an exchange of punts, Stephen Hill fumbled a catch and New England recovered at the Jets' 8-yard line.
The Patriots, though, managed just five yards and a 21-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski made it a 10-0 game with 9:17 left in the first quarter.
New York responded with an impressive drive, converting a pair of third downs to get to 1st-and-goal from the 9-yard line. On third down, Clyde Gates appeared to catch a pass just inside the goalline and it was ruled a score from nine yards out. However, a review determined that the ball came out of his hands as he hit the ground, and the team wound up settling for a 37-yard field goal from Nick Folk for a 10-3 game with 4:01 to play in the first.
The two sides struggle offensively over the next several possessions, but Brady found Kenbrell Thompkins down the left sideline for 38 yards. That led to a 30-yard field goal from Gostkowski for a 13-3 lead with 5:05 to play.
On the last possession of the half, New England got into scoring position and lined up for a 43-yard field goal from Gostkowski, but he got off a poor kick and it fell left and short to end the half.
Brady has a touchdown pass in 50 straight games, second only to Drew Brees' streak of 54 games that was broken last year ... It was the fewest points scored by the Patriots in a regular season game since the team suffered a 16-9 loss to the Jets in Week 2 of the 2009 season. The team scored just 13 in a loss to Baltimore in the AFC Championship game last season ... Hill led the Jets' receiving corps with four catches for 86 yards ... Stevan Ridley carried the ball 16 times for 40 yards for the Patriots, while Chris Ivory led the New York rushing game with 52 yards on 12 carries ... New York controlled the ball for 34 minutes and outgained the Patriots 318-232 ... Brady passed Drew Bledsoe for seventh all-time in completions (3,846).