Foxboro, MA – After Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal in overtime, Rob Ninkovich sealed a 29-26 win for the New England Patriots over the New York Jets.
On 2nd-and-10, Mark Sanchez was sacked by the linebacker, who jarred the ball loose and dove on it to give New England the victory.
Trailing by three with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Tom Brady completed four passes to move the Patriots into field goal range for Gostkowski, who nailed a 43-yard field goal as the game clock expired to send the game to OT.
Brady threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-42 efficiency to help the Patriots (4-3) take over sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
"We talk about playing 60 minutes, it took a little bit more than that today, but the players did a good job," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "In the end, we made enough plays to win."
Rob Gronkowski hauled in six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, while Wes Welker added six catches for 66 yards, as the Patriots were able to bounce back and avoid a second straight late collapse after falling to Seattle last week.
The Jets (3-4) trailed by 10 points after three quarters, but Sanchez led New York to scores on all three of its possessions in the fourth to put them on top late in regulation. He completed 28-of-41 passes for a season-high 328 yards while throwing for a touchdown and an interception in the setback.
"It really stings because we played hard throughout the whole game," said Sanchez. "I was really proud of the way our defense kept us in it."
Dustin Keller scored his first touchdown of the season and caught seven passes for 93 yards for New York, which will play another division rival next week in the Miami Dolphins, while Jeremy Kerley led all receivers with 120 yards on seven receptions.
"I'm proud of my team," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "We had an opportunity to win the game and unfortunately didn't get it done but we kept fighting."
Trailing 23-13, the Jets began their comeback by rallying off 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
New York had the ball back pinned deep in its own territory with 12:12 to play in regulation, but Sanchez led the Jets 92 yards down the field for a touchdown. During the 14-play march, he completed 9-of-10 throws, three of which came on third down.
Perhaps the most important was a 7-yard completion to Kerley on 3rd-and-6 to move New York to the New England 11. Two plays later, Sanchez found Keller in the end zone to cut the Jets' deficit to 23-20.
New York forced the Patriots three-and-out on their next possession, then began its second scoring drive of the quarter with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Sanchez found Keller near the sideline for a 21-yard completion before Joe McKnight picked up 18 yards on two carries to bring the Jets to the Patriots' 26. However, a wide-open Stephen Hill dropped a pass from Sanchez while attempting to turn up field on 3rd-and-4.
The Jets were still able to salvage the drive, as Nick Folk connected on a 43- yard field goal to tie the game at 23-23
On the ensuing kickoff, New England's Devin McCourty -- who brought a kick back for a touchdown earlier in the game -- fumbled during the return. The Jets' Lex Hilliard knocked the ball out of his hands and jumped on it to give New York the ball back with 2:01 to play.
The Jets only managed to pick up three yards after the turnover, but Folk's boot from 43-yards out rang true and New York grabbed the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
But like the Jets' first lead of the game, it was short-lived. After the Patriots got the ball back with 1:37 remaining in regulation, Brady completed 4-of-5 passes -- with Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead each hauling in a pair -- to move Gostkowski into field goal range. As time expired in regulation, the 28-year-old kicker nailed the 43-yard attempt to send the game to overtime.
The Patriots won the toss and took possession to start the extra period. After picking up two first downs, the Patriots faced 3rd-and-8.
Brady's throw to Aaron Hernandez fell incomplete, but the Jets' Kyle Wilson was flagged late for pass interference, giving New England a new set of downs. Brady then completed a 12-yard pass to Welker, but his pass fell incomplete to Hernandez on third down two plays later.
Gostkowski kicked a 48-yard field goal down the middle to give the Patriots a 29-26 lead.
Due to the new overtime rules, the Jets were eligible to get the ball back. However, they could not produce a score.
Sanchez completed a 17-yard pass to Kerley to advance the ball to the Jets' own 40, but Ninkovich sacked the quarterback two plays later and forced the ball out of his hands. The New England lineman recovered his forced fumble and preserved a Patriots' victory.
"Rob made a great play," said Brady. "Its the kind of play you need. That was a great example of game winning play and we all need to start making more of those."
After scoring a field goal before the end of the first half to make it 16-10, New York received the ball to start the third quarter, but were once again forced to settle for three points.
After driving 65 yards down the field on 11 plays, Sanchez's throw on 3rd- and-2 from the Patriots' 3 fell incomplete, forcing Folk to kick one through the uprights from 21 yards out to cut the Patriots' lead to three.
Earlier in the drive, Sanchez connected with Hill for 12 yards before hitting Keller twice for gains of 10 yards and 23 yards, respectively, to move New York to New England's 11-yard line. But after two rushes by Shonn Greene accumulated eight yards, Sanchez's pass to Chaz Schilens on a slant route fell incomplete.
New England responded with a 15-play scoring drive, the longest of the day for either team. The Patriots used up nearly seven minutes of the clock and Brady converted on all four third downs through the air, including a 2-yard touchdown completion to Gronkowski on 3rd-and-goal to increase New England's advantage to 10.
Prior to the score, Brady completed a 16-yard pass to Hernandez, who was tackled at the Jets' 1 but appeared to fumble and the Jets' Antonio Cromartie picked it up. The play was reviewed by the booth and overturned the decision on the field, however, ruling that Hernandez's knee hit the ground before the ball came out.
The Jets scored the game's first touchdown after forcing the Patriots to punt on their first possession. Sanchez completed two long passes to Kerley, the first for 24 yards and the second for 26 to move the Jets to the Patriots' 19. Faced with a third-and-short from inside the Patriots' 5, Tim Tebow rushed for three yards and Shonn Greene ran for the touchdown on the next play.
The Patriots answered back right away, however, as McCourty returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at seven.
New England scored again on its next touch after forcing the Jets three-and- out. Brady completed 4-of-6 throws on the drive, including two passes to Gronkowski, the first for 19 yards and the second for a 17-yard touchdown.
The score marked the 39th straight regular-season game that Brady has thrown a TD pass, the third longest streak in NFL history.
After an exchange of punts, the Jets began the second quarter with the ball at their own 12, but didn't maintain possession for long.
On the first play, Sanchez went to hand the ball off to Greene, but a fumble resulted on the exchange. In an attempt to prevent a touchdown opportunity for New England, Sanchez kicked the ball through the back of the end zone for a safety, giving the Patriots a 16-7 lead.
Sanchez was picked off on the Jets' next possession, but got New York into field goal range before the end of the first half.
With 3:43 to go until halftime, Sanchez completed a 15-yard pass to Keller on the second play of the drive, then followed with three more completions to move the Jets past midfield. New York advanced to the New England 36 after a defensive holding penalty on Dont'a Hightower and a 3-yard reception by Jonathan Grimes before facing fourth down.
Folk then drilled a 54-yard kick to make it 16-10 by halftime.
The last time New England beat New York in overtime was in 1997. The Jets were victorious in the most recent overtime matchup between the teams in 2008 ... New York has lost three straight games to the Patriots after defeating them 28-21 in the Divisional Round of the 2010 AFC Playoffs ... The Patriots avoided their first 3-4 start since 2002 ... New England will travel to London next week to face the St. Louis Rams.