Lloyd struggled for much of the day: in addition to the costly penalty, he was targeted eight times by Brady, and came away with just one 6-yard reception.
Folk hit the first of his 43-yarders when the Jets got the ball back, tying the game at 23-all. Then came McCourty’s fumble.
It was the third time in seven games that New England has blown a fourth-quarter lead, the first two coming in Baltimore and Seattle. The difference this time was the Patriots were able to find a way to win.
“A win’s a win,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught both of Brady’s touchdown passes. “I’ll take it whatever way. You can win some ugly and you can win some pretty and it just doesn’t matter. We worked together as a team and we got the victory.”
New York won the opening toss and deferred, and although the Patriots got back-to-back first downs to start from Shane Vereen, who got his first career start, the drive stalled after that.
When the Jets got the ball, they used two big plays to get into the red zone — first a 24 yard pass from Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley, then on third and 7, with the Patriots in dime coverage, Sanchez again found Kerley, this time for 26 yards.
The completions were the 34th and 35th pass plays of 20-plus yards the Patriots have allowed this season, by far the most in the NFL.
They wound up giving up six such plays in the game, pushing their total to 39.
When it looked like New England had stopped the Jets, with Sanchez and tight end Dustin Keller not able to hook up on third and 8 at the Patriots 17, they got a gift: Ras-I Dowling, who was in coverage on Keller, was flagged for holding, which gave the Jets 5 yards and an automatic first down.
Four plays later, including a short third down that saw Tim Tebow in at quarterback and fight for 3 yards, running back Shonn Greene ran in for the touchdown.
After not giving up a first-quarter touchdown over their first five games of the year, the Patriots gave up one in each of their last two games, with Seattle getting one and now the Jets.
New England wasted no time tying the score: McCourty found a major hole in the Jets kick coverage and then took off up the left sideline for a 104-yard touchdown, the first TD of his career.
The defense held despite the short rest, and when the offense took the field it had good field position and Brady led it to its first touchdown of the day. The seven-play drive was capped by a 17-yard throw to Gronkowski, who made a nice catch near the left sideline of the end zone with Landry in good coverage.
New England got a safety in the second quarter to go ahead, 16-7. A bobbled handoff to Greene plus Vince Wilfork bursting through the line led to Wilfork punching the ball into the end zone. Sanchez kicked it out of the back of the end zone, a penalty that led to the Patriots’ first safety since 2006 against Denver.
The Jets got a long Folk field goal before the half and then a short one at the start of the third quarter, pulling them within 16-13. Gronkowski got his second TD in the third, which put the Patriots ahead, 23-13.
They let the Jets back into the game, but as they headed home Sunday night, Patriots players wanted to remember only that they had won.
“Our main job was go get out of this game with a ‘W’, ” Wilfork said. “I don’t care how we get it [but] get a ‘W’. Division game, you can’t be pissed off with how you won or the things you’ve done. It showed a lot from these New England Patriots, just fighting in overtime.”
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.