FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP/CBS) — The most consistent area for the New York Jets lately has been the final outcome.
The Jets’ skid reached three straight with a 30-21 loss at New England on Sunday, when New York sputtered to 31 yards of offense in the first quarter and the worn-out defense failed to stop the Patriots down the stretch.
“Against New England you’ve got to get off the field. They did a great job sustaining drives,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “You make mistakes against that football team and they absolutely kill you. And they don’t need any help with the offense that they have. You can’t make mistakes. We made just enough of them to help (them).”
“Obviously they are the better team right now,” Ryan said. “The score indicated that.”
The Jets (2-3) were 3 for 11 on third-down conversions while gaining just 255 yards against the Patriots, who were the NFL’s lowest-ranked defense entering the game.
Mark Sanchez passed for 166 yards, one week after a 119-yard performance in a 34-17 loss to the Ravens.
“I knew we were going to need some big plays on third down and that’s where we really lost the game,” said Sanchez, who completed 16 of 26 passes. “You can’t win like that. Not against these guys. You’ve got to keep them off the field and make it easier on your defense.”
Read: Pats-Jets Highs and Lows
Before the game, the Jets issued a statement denying a report that receivers Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason went to Ryan individually recently to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s system.
Ryan said after the game that no players have come to him individually with complaints, and both Burress and Mason denied the claim.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns for New England and Tom Brady had another strong game, completing 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular-season game.
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In the last meeting between the Jets and Patriots, Sanchez outplayed Brady in New York’s 28-21 playoff win on Jan. 16, adding to the fierce rivalry between the AFC East teams. But the crowd was unusually subdued throughout the first half Sunday, perhaps because of the lackluster play that included six penalties by each team.
The Patriots (4-1) won their 19th straight regular-season game at home. They never trailed, scoring the first 10 points and leading 10-7 at halftime.
The Jets staged a comeback after falling behind 27-14, marching 85 yards to a 21-yard scoring pass from Sanchez to Holmes. Sanchez was 5 for 6 on the drive for 65 yards — more than 40 percent of his total for the game.
But the Patriots came right back, holding the ball for 6:12 and scoring with 1:02 remaining on Stephen Gostkowski’s 28-yard field goal, his third of the game.
On the first play of the third quarter, Brady and Wes Welker connected for a 73-yard gain. Three plays later, a wide-open Deion Branch caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Brady on the left side of the end zone.
“I took my eyes off of him,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “I took one peep. As soon as I peeped, he went the opposite way. That’s all on me.”
Stats: Pats-Jets Box Score
The Jets struck right back when Joe McKnight returned the kickoff 88 yards one week after scoring on a 107-yard kickoff return in a 34-17 loss at Baltimore. New York needed just three plays to reach the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley, cutting the lead to 17-14.
Green-Ellis, who had 27 carries, then scored his second 3-yardtouchdown with 1:20 left in the third quarter, and Gostkowski added a 24-yard field goal with 12:57 to go in the game.
The Jets failed to get a first down on their first four possessions, punting on each one. But on their next series, they held the ball for 7:54 and scored on Shonn Greene’s 3-yard run, the 13th play of a 78-yard drive, as they cut the lead to 10-7.
The Patriots got the ball with 3:17 left in the half and had a second-and-10 on the Jets 11 with 9 seconds remaining. Brady threw the ball to Aaron Hernandez at the goal line, but the tight end deflected it and Cromartie caught it behind him, returning the interception 42 yards as time ran out.
It was the first regular-season red-zone interception Brady has thrown at home in his career.
New England had taken a 7-0 lead when Green-Ellis scored on a 3-yard run midway through the first quarter.
It went to 10-0 on a 44-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 11:15 left in the second quarter. The Jets appeared to have the Patriots stopped when Hernandez failed to catch Brady’s pass on third-and-5 at the Jets 39, but Kyle Wilson was called for illegal contact, giving the Patriots a first down.
Notes: The Patriots’ 13 straight regular-season games of at least 30 points are one less than the record set by the St. Louis Rams in 1999-2000. … Jets C Nick Mangold played after missing the past two games with a high right ankle sprain. … The Patriots had Hernandez and DT Albert Haynesworth back after they also were sidelined for two games. … Burress had three catches for 42 yards in his first game against the Patriots since catching the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the New York Giants 17-14 Super Bowl win over New England in Feb. 2008.
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