FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- With a little over two minutes to play and
the New York Jets driving for a go-ahead score, the Patriots
defense huddled on the sideline.
It was fourth-and-8 from the New England 30, and the Patriots
clung to a six-point lead. They stayed calm, drawing on their
varied experiences in close games, and knew they had to get after
Chad Pennington to have any chance at saving the game.
When the ball was finally snapped, Pennington hurried his throw
to Wayne Chrebet, and Rodney Harrison broke up the pass with 2:14
remaining. The Patriots had come through as they always did, and
extended their NFL victory streak to 21 games in a 13-7 win over
the Jets on Sunday.
The Patriots also set the regular-season mark of 18 straight
wins, surpassing the 17 won by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears. They also
moved to 6-0 for the first time in franchise history while handing
the Jets (5-1) their first loss this season.
"Chrebet went up the seam, and I saw the ball. I saw Pennington
looking at him and I just broke on the ball and tried to touch
it," Harrison said. "We were successful at it."
Since 2003, the Patriots are 9-1 in games decided by seven
points or less. For that reason, there was no panic when the Jets
started driving down the field.
"It's nothing new to us," cornerback Ty Law said. "Whenever
the situation presents itself, it's, 'Oh we've done this before.'
No one's tight, no one's nervous to make a play."
The matchup was the first pitting two undefeated teams with five
or more wins since the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams were
both 6-0 going into a game Oct. 28, 1973. The game lived up to the
hype, and turned into a defensive struggle in the second half.
New England led 13-7 at the break and could not muster much on
offense in the second half. Neither could the Jets until late in
the fourth quarter. Facing fourth-and-1 from their own 23, coach
Herman Edwards decided to go for it.
Pennington made the first down on a 2-yard sneak. The Jets then
marched to the Patriots 27. Richard Seymour and Willie McGinest
made a crucial play on third-and-5, forcing Curtis Martin to lose 3
yards on a run. On fourth down, Pennington tried to throw to
Chrebet, but Harrison was there to make the play.
Jets coach Herman Edwards said there was no way the Jets would
settle for three points.
"We're not kicking a field goal," Edwards said. "You're not
going to get lucky and beat the champs. We were in fourth down
territory the whole way."
Tom Brady finished 20-of-29 for 230 yards and a touchdown, while
Corey Dillon had 22 carries for 115 yards, the first 100-yard
runner the Jets have allowed all season. David Givens also had the
second 100-yard day of his career, finishing with five catches for
Martin passed Jim Brown for seventh place on the NFL career
rushing list in the second quarter. He had 70 yards on 20 carries
and now has 12,382 career yards, compared to Brown's 12,312.
Mistakes ended up costing the Jets. Two penalties led to 10
points in the second quarter. A too many men on the field penalty
on fourth-and-1 gave the Patriots a first down early in the
New England converted the mistake into points, when Adam
Vinatieri made a 27-yard field goal to make it 6-0. After
Pennington scored on a 1-yard bootleg run to put the Jets up 7-6,
New England got the ball back with 1:55 left before halftime.
Brady expertly ran the two-minute offense, moving the Patriots
down to the Jets 13 with 18 seconds to go. On the next play, tackle
Dewayne Robertson was whistled for roughing the passer. Brady
connected with David Patten for a 7-yard score with 5 seconds left
before halftime to give the Patriots the lead back.
"It was important to put some points up," Brady said. "We
continue to work on the two-minute drills and they keep getting
"Playing New England is very much like playing chess," Martin
said. "When two very good people play chess, the one that makes a
mistake loses, and that's what happened today."
Of course, New England has made a name for itself by forcing
teams into mistakes. It helped save the day again.
"It felt like an old Foxboro moment," Johnson said. "The
defense had to make a big play to win the game."
The Patriots have scored first in 11 straight
regular-season games and 14 straight overall. ... Brady has thrown
a touchdown pass in 12 consecutive games, including playoffs. ...
Jets reserve linebacker Jason Glenn hurt his right arm in the third
quarter and did not return. ... Justin McCareins had six catches
for 83 yards for the Jets, his best game this season.