Patriots' defense steps up in 30-21 win over Jets
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—The New England Patriots were upset that opponents kept piling up yards on them.
They took it out on the New York Jets.
Even without star linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Patriots allowed just 255 yards and held the Jets without a first down on seven of their 11 possessions in a 30-21 win Sunday.
"We said, 'Enough's enough,' and that's where you make your stand," said Patriots defensive end Andre Carter, who had seven tackles.
It was a surprising showing by a defense that entered the game last in the NFL with an average of 477.5 yards allowed. And it played without its signal-caller, Mayo, who missed his first game because of a serious knee sprain.
"I think every week we've been getting better and better and better (defensively) and today was a good day to get back on track," defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
The Patriots (4-1) never trailed and won their 19th consecutive regular-season game at home. The Jets (2-3) lost their third straight.
"We lost two in a row last year but we bounced right back from it," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "This is a little different territory. So we're going to see what a lot of guys are made of on this team and it's my job to get guys ready to play this next week against Miami."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns and Tom Brady completed 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards, a touchdown and an interception after starting the day with an NFL-best 388 yards passing per game.
"We want to be an offense that can be able to do whatever we want to do, run or pass, and complement our defense," said Green-Ellis, signed in 2008 as a rookie free agent from Mississippi.
The Jets didn't do any of that well enough.
Sanchez completed 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns one week after going 11 for 35 for 119 in a 34-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. And the Patriots outrushed the Jets 152 yards to 97.
"I thought we did some good things" on offense, New York coach Rex Ryan said, "but lacked a little consistency, obviously, and you have got to convert on third down."
The Jets were just 3 for 11 on third down, compared to the Patriots' 7 for 14.
"They did a great job spreading the ball around," New York cornerback Antonio Cromartie said.
Before last season's 28-21 playoff win over the Patriots, Cromartie called Brady an expletive and said the quarterback showboated and pointed at the Jets sideline after a late touchdown during a regular-season game.
But few players referred to the rivalry after Sunday's game. And the crowd was subdued in a lackluster first half and behaved most of the time as if the Jets were just another opponent.
Brady had another strong day, completing 24 of 33 passes for one touchdown and one interception as the Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular-season game.
The Patriots led 10-7 at halftime and 27-14 after Stephen Gostkowski's 24-yard field goal with 12:57 left in the game.
Then Sanchez led a comeback by completing 5 of 6 passes for 65 yards on an 85-yard drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 7:14 left.
But the Jets couldn't stop the Patriots, who held the ball for 6:12 as Green-Ellis ran 10 times for 59 yards.
"BenJarvus is a great guy to block for," Patriots guard Logan Mankins said. "He reads the play out, he finds the hole and he won't fumble."
Gostkowski ended the march with a 28-yard field goal, his third of the game, with 1:02 remaining.
"Against New England, you've got to get off the field," Ryan said. "They did a great job sustaining drives. You've got to give them all the credit. They earned it."
On the first play of the third quarter, Brady and Wes Welker connected for a 73-yard gain. Three plays later, a wide-open Deion Branch caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Brady on the left side of the end zone.
"I took my eyes off of him," Cromartie said. "I took one peep. As soon as I peeped, he went the opposite way. That's all on me."
The Jets came right back when Joe McKnight returned the kickoff 88 yards one week after scoring on a 107-yard kickoff return. They needed just three plays to reach the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Jeremy Kerley, cutting the lead to 17-14.
But the Patriots defense never let them catch up.
"That was definitely our best game," Carter said, "and now we have to continue to get better."
Notes: A moment of silence was held for former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died Saturday. ... Before the game, the NHL champion Boston Bruins came on the field to loud applause with captain Zdeno Chara holding the Stanley Cup. ... The Patriots' 13 straight regular-season games with at least 30 points are one less than the record set by the St. Louis Rams in 1999-2000. ... Jets C Nick Mangold played after missing two games with a high right ankle sprain. ... The Patriots had TE Aaron Hernandez and DT Albert Haynesworth back after they also were sidelined for two games.