"Good enough." That's how Bill Belichick described his team's hold-on-for-dear-life victory over the Jets Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
The 27-25 win was in the balance until Chris Jones blocked Nick Folk's 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
The Jets ran all over the Jerod Mayo-less Patriots to the tune of 218 yards and a 40:54 time of possession. New York had 100 yards more of offense and converted better than 50 percent of its third downs.
But when the biggest plays of the game needed to be made, it was New England that made them. From Danny Amendola's 19-yard touchdown grab to Jones' block, there were plenty of complementary contributions to secure the victory.
Having played four games in 18 days dating back to the embarrassing loss in Kansas City, Belichick's troops battled through a stretch of challenges and came away with three victories in the last three contests.
New England now has an extended week to prepare for hosting the Bears, while enjoying a 5-2 mark and a spot in first place in the AFC East.
Overcoming the loss of Mayo and Stevan Ridley remains a work in progress. The run defense and pass defense remain works in progress. And the offensive line has plenty of room for growth.
But midway through October the Patriots are starting to pile up the wins as the team works through the kinks. Thursday night was certainly an example of that.
Here's a look at some of the highs and lows from New England's win over New York (1-6) that left Rex Ryan searching for answers:
Shane Vereen** – With Stevan Ridley done for the season, and New England going with plenty of passing sets, Vereen took over as the lead dog in the backfield. He got things going with a great diving catch for a 49-yard touchdown when he got wide open down the right side and had to turn on the jets to get to Tom Brady's throw. He led the Patriots in both rushing and receiving. The ground work included 11 carries for 43 yards with a long of 17. He also tied for a team high with five catches for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The backfield will probably take a committee approach moving forward, but Vereen took advantage of his chances in this one.
Danny Amendola – The numbers don't jump off the page, but Amendola made huge plays to key the victory. He saw his first action of the year as a kick returner and showed spark, averaging 26.3 yards on his four chances. He made a great, twisting catch for the 19-yard game-winning touchdown on his only catch of the night. Later he recovered New York's onside kick attempt. Amendola also drew a 32-yard pass interference to help set up a field goal in the second quarter. The man who's been a whipping boy for many Patriots fans early this season keyed a short-week victory over a division rival.
Tom Brady – No. 12 took care of business against Rex Ryan's many defensive looks. It wasn't perfect, but three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 103.5 passer rating is a pretty good day. Brady worked hard to get the ball out quickly, rolled out at times and made some throws on the move, including the game winner.
Run defense – In its first game without Jerod Mayo, the run defense looked like it was missing more than one player. New York wanted to run the ball and did just that all night long, churning out 218 yards on 43 attempts to help run up more than 40 minutes in time of possession. While the numbers show that both Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins had 13 tackles, their efforts weren't nearly that impressive. Collins in particular seems to struggle to hold up against the run in the middle of the defense. Chris Ivory just couldn't be brought down, putting up 21 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. No Jets ball carrier averaged less than 4.7 per carry. The run defense was way too porous. The Jets didn't punt until late in the third quarter. A lot of that had to do with the run defense.
Brandon Browner – The veteran cornerback finally got on the field. That was the good. But he seemed to really get gassed early and had to be replaced by Logan Ryan at various points throughout the game beginning with the third defensive series. Browner also picked up a couple holding flags in coverage. His ankle injury may still be an issue, but nearly halfway through the season Browner remains a questionable unknown factor in the Patriots pass defense.
Nate Solder/Marcus Cannon – The offensive line once again had a new-look starting lineup with Jordan Devey filling in for Dan Connolly at left guard. The group faced a good Jets front. At times the protection was solid, but it got a bit more dicey in the second half when Cannon rotated through at both tackle spots. Brady was only sacked once, but was hit seven times. Solder also had yet another false start penalty.
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