Every week this season I'll be taking a look at past match-ups between the New York Jets and their upcoming opponents. There will be two parts for each division rival, since they play twice a year. In Part Two, we'll take a look at some recent Jets-Patriots match-ups.
The Patriots lead the all-time series 56-52-1, outscoring the Jets 2,479-2,288 in the process.
September 23, 2001: A date not remembered because of the game itself, but what would result because of it. The New York Jets (0-1) and New England Patriots (0-1) met in Week 2 of the 2001 season, both looking for their first victory of the season. This game had a very nondescript beginning, as it was just a 3-3 score at halftime via field goals from Adam Vinatieri and John Hall. Jets future Hall of Famer Curtis Martin broke through in the third quarter when he rushed from eight yards out into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game, giving New York a 10-3 lead. Drew Bledsoe, New England's pro-bowl quarterback, struggled that Sunday, going 18 for 28 with 159 passing yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. With 5:11 remaining in the game, Bledsoe had a chance to rally his squad from behind, but something entirely different occurred. Running along the sideline, attempting to get extra yardage, Bledsoe was hit hard by Jets pro-bowler Mo Lewis. After the Jets would punt, Bledsoe would surprisingly return to the field, but after a New England turnover brought the offense back to the sideline, something was clearly wrong. Bledsoe was bleeding internally, an injury that could have been life-threatening. Bill Belichick did the only thing he could, and that was to put in the former sixth round draft pick back-up quarterback who was just good enough to even make the 53-man roster—Tom Brady. The Jets would go on to win, but it was the Patriots who were the real winners in the long run. One hit changed the history of not only the New England Patriots franchise, but the division, the conference and the entire NFL landscape.
December 22, 2002: Now in the first full season of the Tom Brady era, the Jets (7-7) and Patriots (8-5) battled late in the season, both vying for potential playoff berths. Chad Pennington opened up the scoring in Foxborough with a 32-yard passing touchdown to Laveranues Coles. The Jets were feeling pretty good about themselves but the feeling was short-lived as Kevin Faulk took a John Hall kickoff 87 yards to the house, tying the game at 7. Pennington and the Jets quickly responded, though, as Chad converted his second touchdown pass of the first quarter, this time to Santana Moss. After trading field goals in the second, Brady found Christian Fauria in the end zone in the third quarter, tying the game at 17-all. After taking yet another shot to the gut, New York responded with a field goal from Hall, and again with Pennington's third TD toss of the night to Wayne Chrebet. Hall would add another field goal, and New York went on to a 30-17 road win. This victory went on to be huge as the Jets clinched the AFC East the next week and New England was eliminated from postseason contention with an identical 9-7 record.
January 7, 2007: The Jets (10-6) traveled to Foxborough to face the Patriots (12-4) in the opening round of the playoffs. Labeled as 9-point underdogs entering the match-up, New York put up a fight in the first half, when they took their first lead of the game in the second quarter on a 77-yard catch and run touchdown by Jerricho Cotchery. 10-7 Jets. The Patriots would put up their points, however, when after a field goal by Stephen Gostowski tied the game, Tom Brady connected with Daniel Graham for the go-ahead touchdown before halftime. Mike Nugent's field goal to start the second half cut the score to 17-13, and unfortunately for the Jets that would be the closest they would get the score. New England went on to score 20 second half points on the strength of two Gostowski field goals, another Brady touchdown pass and a 36-yard Chad Pennington interception return for a touchdown by Asante Samuel. The Patriots won 37-16, and after defeating the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round, blew the largest lead in AFC Championship Game history to the eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.
September 20, 2009: The new-look Jets (1-0), with head coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez looked to make a statement in Week 2 against the Patriots (1-0). There was a lot of talk prior to this game, as Ryan told WFAN leading up to the game that he was not here to "kiss Bill Belichick's rings" as well as imploring Jets fans to make Giants Stadium as loud as they possibly could by leaving phone messages to every season ticket holder. The Jets fell behind early, and were down 9-3 at halftime in a field goal game. Sanchez and Brady both struggled on the day, but it was in the third quarter when New York took the lead on a 9-yard touchdown reception by tight end Dustin Keller. After a pair of Jay Feely fourth quarter field goals, the Jets led 16-9. Brady and the Pats had one final drive to attempt a comeback. The Jets went on to win, forcing Brady into three delay-of-game penalties and making their statement.
January 16, 2011: A month removed from a 45-3 debacle, the Jets (12-5) looked to pull off the shocker vs. the Patriots (14-2). Despite their terrific record, the Jets got zero respect, picked by everyone to lose this game. Even a week after defeating Peyton Manning in his own building to open the postseason, New York entered this game as 9.5 point underdogs. New England marched down the field on the opening drive of the game, but after Algae Crumpler dropped a touchdown, the Jets would force the Patriots to kick a field goal. On the ensuing New England drive, David Harris shockingly picked off a pass from Brady, who was nearly perfect in the 2010-2011 season, and after it appeared that he was going to score he was caught from behind in Patriots territory. The Jets did nothing on that drive, losing yards in the process. Nick Folk would miss the field goal, and it remained 3-0 Patriots. Things turned around in the second for New York when Mark Sanchez found Ladanian Tomlinson who caught a pass near the goal line and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead score. After a botched fake-punt by the Patriots, the Jets were set up to get more points before halftime, when Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards who dragged two Patriot defenders into the end zone with him, and the Jets took a shocking 14-3 lead at the break. In the third quarter after Brady found Crumpler—who made the catch this time—for a touchdown, New England converted on a two-point conversion to cut the lead to three. Now in the fourth quarter, Sanchez threw to the corner of the end zone, where Santonio Holmes made an amazing catch to stay in-bounds, and New York led 21-11. Looking to tie the game, the Patriots marched down the field, but in the process they took nearly nine whole minutes off the clock, and they had to settle for a field goal. The Jets recovered the Patriots onside kick attempt and quickly converted the good field position into points as Shonn Greene broke off a 16-yard rush into the end zone. The Jets played prevent defense, now leading by two touchdowns, which eventually allowed the Patriots to score a touchdown with about a minute remaining. New England's last chance at a win was to recover an onside kick. While it looked iffy if for only a moment, the Jets recovered, lined up in their victory formation and took a knee. 28-21. In perhaps the second greatest win in the history of the New York Jets, they shocked the football world.
There are some debacles in their recent history, including a 45-3 drubbing, the Sanchez buttfumble last Thanksgiving and the Jets 0-5 record against New England since that playoff win three years ago, but New York has a shot here. While playing them tough in Week 2 is a good sign for fans, it means virtually nothing. We've seen the Jets hang tough with the Patriots in one game and then get blown out in the next. Rex and company will have to pull out all the stops to beat a 5-1 Patriot team, albeit a banged up one. New England has lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries, while potentially being without Danny Amendola or Aqib Talib, and the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski remains to be unseen. The Jets have a chance on Sunday to keep the good feelings going, but they'll need a big game on the defensive front, and, as always, Geno Smith will have to play mistake-free football for them to have a chance.