BOSTON -- It wasn't pretty, but the Patriots notched their first win of the 2023 season on Sunday, escaping with a 15-10 victory over the New York Jets in New Jersey.
It was a lot harder than it had to be for the Patriots, as the team's offensive struggles continued. But New England's defense dominated the day, flustering Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (now 0-5 against the Patriots for his career) throughout the soggy afternoon and coming up with a massive play late: A Matthew Judon sack of Wilson for a safety with just over two minutes to play.
Judon had a pair of sacks on the day, and the New England D held the Jets to just 171 yards of offense. It was New England's 15th straight win over the New York Jets. The Patriots have not lost to the Jets since the 2015 season.
The New England offense didn't look particularly great on Sunday either, as Mac Jones completed just 15 of his 29 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Rhamondre Stevenson struggled to get it going on the ground against New York's stout defense, averaging just 3.1 yards on his 19 carries for just 59 yards. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 80 yards on his 16 carries, leading the New England running attack on Sunday.
The Patriots' secondary was down Jonathan Jones for the second straight week, but still kept Jets star receiver Garrett Wilson from doing much damage. With rookie Christian Gonzalez shadowing him for most of the day, Wilson had just five receptions for 48 yards on nine targets. He got the bulk of his yards on a 29-yard reception on the first play of New York's final drive.
The Patriots took their first lead of the season, 3-0, thanks to a 48-year field goal by rookie kicker Chad Ryland early in the first quarter. It was the first time this season that New England scored on its opening drive.
The New England offense had to punt away its second possession after four plays, and Ryland missed a 48-yarder on the team's next drive. But the defense forced another three-and-out and then the Patriots' offense came through with its biggest play of the season. After New York bit hard on a play fake, Mac Jones spun around and connected with tight end Pharaoh Brown who took care of the rest, racing 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead.
The Jets punted away five of their first six possessions on offense. The Patriots outgained the Jets 216-39 in the first half, but only held a 10-3 lead heading into the locker room.
New England marched down to the New York 33 to start the second half, but Jones couldn't connect downfield with Douglas on a third-and-6. The Patriots had to settle for a 51-yard field goal by Ryland to take a 13-3 lead.
The score stayed that way until late in the fourth quarter, when the Jets finally put together a touchdown drive. Their 83-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Nick Bawden to make it a 13-10 game, was more offense than the Jets had racked up the entire game leading up to that point.
That Jets touchdown was preceded by a tough DPI on Patriots corner Myles Bryant, who had Randall Cobb covered in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal. But Bryant gave Cobb a little bit of a shove, but Cobb sold it with a flop to draw the potential game-changing flag.
The Pats' offense didn't muster much on their next possession, and gave the ball back to Wilson and company at their own 10-yard line with 2:44 left. On a third-and-15, Judon put on a greats spin move to get to Wilson in the end zone for the safety, putting the Pats on top 15-10 with 2:19 to play.
The Patriots' offense still had to make a few plays after Thomas Morstead's free punt set them up at their own 18-yard line. But they couldn't, as Jones' third-and-3 pass was behind Smith-Schuster and the Patriots had to punt the ball back to New York.
The Jets started at their own 45, but after three incompletions by Wilson, faced a fourth-and-10. Wilson threw it short to Tyler Conklin for a gain of just two yards, and the Jets turned it over on downs with 1:19 to play.
The Patriots still had to punt the ball away one final time and the Jets took over with 16 seconds to play, and a 29-yard connection between Wilson and Wilson gave New York a final Hail Mary chance from their own 46 with one second remaining. Wilson threw up a prayer, and it nearly connected with Cobb after hitting off Garrett Wilson's back, but it fell harmlessly to the turf and the Patriots just escaped with the victory.
The Patriots avoided their first 0-3 start since 2000. New England will now face the Cowboys in Dallas next Sunday.
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