In losing to the New York Jets, 30-27 in overtime, the New England Patriots fall to 5-2 on the season and are just one game ahead in the AFC East through seven weeks.
The game appeared in hand at halftime, with the Patriots nursing a 21-10 lead, but the offense went 1-for-12 on third down and had just 318 yards of total offense. Both sides made mistakes, but in the end, the Patriots made the critical one, a penalty on Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into the pile during a field-goal try, a new rule from this offseason.
Here is a look at some players who can feel good about their performance, and others who need to step up if the Patriots are going to get back on the winning track.
Devin McCourty: Had a strong game with five tackles, two assists and two passes defensed, including one in the end zone breaking up a would-be touchdown. With Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo out, McCourty will be called upon to make plays in the middle of the defense.
Rob Gronkowski: Patriots tight ends had nine receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first six games of the season. Gronkowski matched that output and then some, finishing with eight receptions for 117 yards. He took several hits on his previously injured forearm and was blocking with confidence, but dropped a pass that he was nearly able to corral with one hand. Overall, it was a strong first-game back for Gronkowski.
Chris Jones: The rookie will be on the wrong end of the spotlight this week for his controversial penalty on the Jets' 56-yard field goal try, but he had a strong performance outside of that one mistake. He consistently disrupted his gap, and for his effort, he finished with five solo tackles, five assists and two sacks.
Kyle Arrington: Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley had a career day with eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, and did most of his damage with Arrington in coverage, including the touchdown. Arrington played the inside hard, and allowed Kerley to break off a half-hearted jam to the outside, wide open on the pivot route. Arrington was taken off the field at times by Marquice Cole.
Tom Brady: With 47.8 percent completions, Brady has had less than 50 percent completions in three games this season, which is a new career-high for him in one year. This time, the blame doesn't fall on his receivers, who dropped just two passes on the day.
Offensive line: Brady was sacked four times, the third week in a row he has been brought down that many times or more. The Jets defensive line has some studs; first-round picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples each finished with a sack, while the emerging undrafted free-agent Damon Harrison had a sack of his own. Calvin Pace rounded out the group.
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