EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Tom Brady set the NFL record for regular-season victories by a quarterback, getting his 187th as the New England Patriots held on for a 24-17 win over the New York Jets on Sunday to claim first place in the AFC East.
The Patriots (4-2) were playing their first game in 10 days after beating Tampa Bay 19-14 on Oct. 5, and appeared a bit rusty early as they fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter against the surprising Jets (3-3).
New York had a chance to tie the game after getting the ball back with 1:53 remaining, but the Patriots’ 32nd-ranked overall defense held on — forcing Josh McCown to throw incomplete on a desperation heave on fourth-and-17 from the 50, and ending the Jets’ three-game winning streak.
Brady, who broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for the record, got going just before halftime as the Patriots tied it at 14 with 9 seconds left in the second quarter.
Brady then marched the Patriots down the field on their opening drive of the second half, going eight plays and 75 yards to give New England its first lead at 21-14 with a 33-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski.
Brady finished 20 of 38 for 257 yards with two touchdowns to Gronkowski and an interception. Dion Lewis also had a 1-yard TD run.
After Stephen Gostkowski’s 28-yard field goal made it 24-14 50 seconds into the fourth quarter, New York appeared to make it a one-score game again on its next possession as Austin Seferian-Jenkins took a short pass from McCown and reached over the goal line for a 4-yard touchdown.
But officials reviewed the score and said the video replay showed that Seferian-Jenkins slightly lost control of the ball as he went out of bounds on the side of the end zone, resulting in a touchback — despite the ball never hitting the ground. That gave the Patriots back the ball, with the Jets’ sideline irate.
But after the Patriots went three-and-out, the Jets were able to cut it to a one-score game on Chandler Catanzaro’s 28-yard field goal with 3:40 left. But their last-minute comeback attempt fell short.
The Jets talked all week about starting faster and McCown got things going right away in this one, capping a 13-play, 88-yard opening drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Seferian-Jenkins.
New York converted three third-down situations on the drive: a 23-yard pass to Robby Anderson, a 16-yard run by McCown and an impressive 30-yard grab by Jeremy Kerley, who went up for the ball and fought off a defender to come down with it at the Patriots 1.
The Patriots’ second possession ended on a fumble by Mike Gillislee, who had the ball punched out from behind by Darron Lee. Buster Skrine recovered, giving the Jets the ball at their 22.
New York turned that into another score. McCown connected with Jermaine Kearse for 16 yards on third-and-5 from the 47 and then floated a pass over the outstretched arms of Malcolm Butler and right to Kerley, who leaped over the cornerback to snatch the ball and then skipped into the end zone untouched to make it 14-0.
It marked the first time New England trailed by 14 or more points in the first half since Week 4 of the 2014 season at Kansas City. According to the Jets, the last time they led the Patriots in the second quarter by 14 or more at home was the last regular-season game of the 1998 season, when New York was up 17-0.
Brady then led the Patriots on a 93-yard drive that was capped by Lewis’ 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 5:19 left in the first half. Skrine nearly picked off Brady early in the drive, dropping a pass intended for Gronkowski. A few plays later, rookie safety Jamal Adams was called for pass interference on Gronkowski, putting the ball at the Jets 1.
Gostkowski was later wide right on a 47-yard attempt — his first miss after making 12 straight.
McCown finished 31 of 47 for 354 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Seferian-Jenkins had a career-high eight catches for 46 yards.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Patriots have won six of the last seven meetings with the Jets and 11 of the last 13. They have also won 11 straight road games, the second-best streak in team history since they won 12 in a row from 2006-08.
INJURED: Jets leading rusher Bilal Powell was out after missing practice all week with a strained calf. Matt Forte, however, returned and finished with 22 yards on nine carries and eight catches for 59 yards.
Patriots cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin) sat out, as did rookie linebacker Harvey Langi, who was hospitalized following a car accident in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Friday night.
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