But Brady threw for the tight end five times on third down, with only one completion. On the day, Gronkowski was targeted 17 times, with eight catches for 114 yards.
Brady was not sharp Sunday, and completed fewer than half of his passes for the third time this season — he’s never had more than two such games in a season before.
He went 22 for 46 for 228 yards, had an interception on the second play of the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown, was sacked four times, and hit several other times.
“They’re a good defense,” Brady said of the Jets. “They put pressure on you in all areas. We didn’t do anything offensively to slow them down at all. [The second half] started off poorly. We had a great opportunity to take control of the game and we didn’t.”
New England started the second half with a 21-10 lead, but the 23-yard interception return by safety Antonio Allen cut that gap to 21-17. New York would re-take the lead (it had led, 7-0) before the third quarter was out, with quarterback Geno Smith ending a 52-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to make it 24-21.
On that possession, Smith and New York converted two third downs, including a third and 14; after dropping back, Smith noticed much of the left side of the field was open to him and he took off, stretching for the first-down mark as the Patriots’ Marquice Cole was trying to get him out of bounds.
New York was 11 for 21 on third down, converting its first six chances on the afternoon. It was the first time this season the Patriots’ defense allowed an opponent a success rate over 50 percent.
“We were just not making plays on third down, simple as that,” safety Devin McCourty said. “If you don’t play well enough on third down, it’s going to be a tough day.”