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Patriots run past Jets

Green-Ellis racks up 136 yards, two TDs in 30-21 victory

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / October 9, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH — When things got close, the Patriots turned to their closer to seal a 30-21 victory over their rival New York Jets today at Gillette Stadium.

After the Jets scored late to close the score to six points, New England’s offense handed the ball to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis ran valuable time off the clock and kept the chains moving, allowing the Pats to close out their fourth victory of the season.

Green-Ellis carried 27 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He scored on three-yard runs in the first and third quarters.

"It's always the challenge and you always want to be able to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park," Green-Ellis said. "It's just not an individual effort ... it was all 11 guys out there. You know, nothing happens without those guys up front, and I think they did an extremely good job of getting to where we needed to get to and allowing me to make reads and cuts off those guys."

The Patriots, who improved to 4-1, won’t get style points for this one, and that likely suits them just fine. With their lone loss already coming against a division rival (Buffalo), they couldn’t afford a second loss within the AFC East. Plus, it was the Jets – the team that is always talking, though this week it seemed cornerback Antonio Cromartie was the designated chirper.

"Benny ran well, of course, like he always does, runs hard, gets a lot of yards after contact, so, it was a good solid job all the way around," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 24 of 33 pass attempts for 321 yards and a touchdown. Wes Welker had five receptions for 126 yards and Deion Branch caught seven passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought we could have done a lot better offensively," Brady said. "We obviously left a lot of points out there."

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez hit 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Shonn Green carried 21 times for 83 yards for the Jets (2-3).

"It was a hard fought game, like it always is. I'm really proud of our players," Belichick said.

The Jets struggled all day on offense – a recurring theme for a club that has now lost three straight games – but was able to pull within 27-21 with 7:19 to play.

So New England embarked on a 13-play drive, fueled largely by Green-Ellis. It ended inside the red zone, but Stephen Gostkowski’s 28-yard field goal gave it a nine-point lead with less than two minutes to play.

Green-Ellis has 18 touchdowns since the start of the 2010 season, tops in the NFL in that span.

"He ran great. He's a tough runner, a patient runner, he sees the holes," Brady said of Green-Ellis. "You just can't throw the ball every down against these guys."

The Patriots’ defense, playing without injured linebacker Jerod Mayo, did enough to harass Sanchez, although his receivers didn’t help him with a few costly drops.

New England won the coin toss, with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, goalie Tim Thomas and the Stanley Cup as honorary captains – the entire Bruins roster was on the field for a pregame ceremony after running onto the field like the Patriots do -- but elected to defer.

It quickly became evident that this would not be a blowout for either side, though the Jets struggled on offense to start the game, continuing a theme from their recent games.

They gained a total of 29 yards over their first four drives, and failed to record a first down on any of them.

The Patriots’ first possession died after the first play, an 11-yard completion to Welker. Their second was a bit more successful: Welker picked up a bunch of after-the-catch yards after making safety Jim Leonhard miss, and the 32-yard gain put New England well into New York territory.

That’s when the offense tried to exploit the Jets’ weakness against the run. Green-Ellis got the ball on four consecutive plays, gaining eight years on each of his first three carries. The fourth was a three-yard touchdown, and the fourth-year back dragged defensive tackle Sione Pouha with him over the goal line.

Another three-and-out followed for New York. With a pass called on third-and-2, Sanchez got happy feet looking for a receiver and tried to run for it himself, only to be met by Mark Anderson and Rob Ninkovich, who stopped him for no gain.

The play technically went down as a sack, the first for the Patriots’ defense since Anderson had a garbage-time sack of Philip Rivers against the Chargers in Week 2.

New England upped its lead in the second quarter, getting some help via an unnecessary roughness call on Nick Bellore during Welker’s punt return. The 15-yard penalty allowed the Pats’ to start at the New York 44.

They were able to gain only 18 yards, but they got close enough for Stephen Gostkowski, who converted the 44-yard field goal try to give his team a 10-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half.

The Jets cut it to 10-7 when Greene capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

An interception by Cromartie on the goal line of a pass tipped by Hernandez thwarted a Patriots drive just before halftime, but New England opened the second half with a four-play touchdown drive highlighted by a 73-yard pass from Brady to Welker.

The Jets cut the lead to 17-14 when Sanchez found Jeremy Kerley on a nine-yard touchdown pass, but the Patriots marched downfield and took a 24-14 lead when Green-Ellis flipped into the end zone from three yards out.

The Jets again pulled within a score, 27-12, on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, but the Patriots let Green Ellis run 10 times to chew up more than six minutes, and capped the drive with a field goal that made it 30-21.

"When you get in those situations, you have to play situational football. Obviously you don't want to give them the ball back and give them a chance to go down and score, and we were able to do that tonight, so that's always a plus," Green-Ellis said.

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