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Take Two-sday: Hightower's sack provides lift



Every team goes through games like the Patriots did on Sunday. There are going to be times when things aren't clicking, and that's when you need to find different ways to win.

The 2014 Patriots have found a variety of ways to get that done, and Sunday against the Jets was just the latest example.

Team photographer, David Silverman, offers his best photos from the Patriots-Jets game on Sunday, December 21, 2014.

With the two AFC East rivals locked up in an ugly, defensive-minded battle that has become typical of the teams in recent years, the game was up for grabs with five minutes left. New England was clinging to a 17-16 lead when Tom Brady tried to hit Brandon LaFell on second-and-15 and had his pass intercepted by Marcus Williams at the Patriots 30. Taking over with 7:18 left in the game, the Jets had a chance to crank out a couple of first downs and potentially score a touchdown while taking valuable time off the clock. Even if New York couldn't move, the Jets were already in field goal range and could take the lead.

It never happened.

Chris Johnson picked up 4 yards on first down, moving the ball to the 26. Fullback John Connor then plunged his way for a couple to set up third-and-four from the Patriots 24 with just 6:08 remaining. A first down on the ensuing play would take two more minutes off the clock, and more importantly would have all but assured the Jets of points and put the Patriots in desperation mode.



Instead Dont'a Hightower blitzed off the edge and split between Jets right guard Willie Colon and right tackle Breno Giacomini and stormed through to sack Geno Smith for a 10-yard loss, pushing the ball back to the 34 to create a 52-yard field goal attempt.



Adding to the Jets despair was the fact that kicker Nick Folk took a hip injury into the game and was clearly showing signs that it was bothering him during his earlier attempts. Folk's low kick never had a chance and Vince Wilfork tipped the ball before it wobbled harmlessly short of the mark.

Eventually the Patriots picked up three first downs and ran out the clock thanks to Hightower's heroics.

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