EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Tom Brady set yet another NFL record. Ho-hum. The New England Patriots quarterback was more excited about earning another victory.
Brady threw two touchdown passes and became the career leader in total yards passing in regular-season and playoff games, leading the Patriots past the New York Jets 27-13 on Sunday.
“Just wins,” Brady said. “That’s what we’re here for. I’m trying to be a part of as many of these as I can.”
Well, the five-time Super Bowl champion certainly has lots of those.
The latest clinched the Patriots (8-3) their 18th straight season with a .500 record or better. That ranks second in NFL history to only Dallas, which had 21 in a row from 1965-85.
Brady had just one TD throw in his previous three games, but connected with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman against the AFC East-rival Jets (3-8). The Patriots quarterback went 20 of 31 for 283 yards, giving him 79,416 for his career.
He also reached 3,000 yards passing for the 16th season, tying Peyton Manning for second in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s 18.
That’s all after missing Friday’s practice with an illness after being limited during the week with a sore knee.
“I’d prefer to be healthy and practice all the time,” Brady said. “That just wasn’t the case.”
He was plenty good enough.
Rookie Sony Michel ran for a season-best 133 yards and a TD , and the Patriots had 215 yards rushing — responding well to coach Bill Belichick’s challenge to his offense.
“We talked about being consistent week in and week out,” Michel said, “playing Patriots football, being physical and run the ball and throw the ball and control the line of scrimmage.”
Coming off a 34-10 loss to Tennessee two weeks ago, the Patriots avoided their second two-game losing streak of the season — something the franchise hasn’t experienced since 2015. New England, which improved to 3-3 on the road, has won five straight in the series against New York and eight of the past nine.
With Jets rookie Sam Darnold out with a foot strain, 39-year-old backup Josh McCown got his second straight start — making this game the NFL’s second-oldest QB combo at 80 years, 258 days with 41-year-old Brady going for New England. Only Carolina’s Vinny Testaverde (44) and Green Bay’s Favre (38) in 2007 are an older combination at 82 years, 44 days old.
Brady got the better of McCown in this one, though, even though it took until late in the second half for the Patriots to pull away.
“We were not great in the red area, but we made enough plays,” Brady said. “In every area, I think we can do a better job. We’re certainly not where we want to be and we’ll keep building for it. Hopefully, everyone can stay healthy.”
Brady connected with Edelman for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Patriots ahead 20-13 with 1:52 left in the third quarter. The drive opened with a 27-yard reception by Chris Hogan, followed by a 27-yard run by James White. Brady found a wide-open Edelman, who ran through a tackle attempt by Jamal Adams and got into the end zone.
Michel added a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:54 left, one play after a video review reversed his TD run; his right knee was down before he reached the goal line. The score put the Patriots up 27-13 and sent many Jets fans streaming toward the exits.
McCown was 26 of 45 for 276 yards and a touchdown to Jermaine Kearse with one interception for the Jets, who have lost five straight for the first time since the 2014 season.
“It (stinks),” McCown said. “It’s obviously not ideal. I think individually, it’s a test — a test of who you are and what you’re about and your ability to get back up come back to work, work hard and be a professional. Those things are tested in these times.”
Jets up early
The Jets took a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter on McCown’s 16-yard pass to Kearse, who made a nice move on defensive back Jonathan Jones before zipping into the end zone. The drive was helped by 19-yard catches by Chris Herndon and Isaiah Crowell, and a roughing-the-passer call on Deatrich Wise Jr. on a third-down play.
But the Patriots came right back to tie it on Brady’s 34-yard pass to Gronkowski.
White was called for offensive pass interference on third-and-2 from the Jets 24, and coach Todd Bowles took the penalty rather than the down. So, on third-and-12, Brady fired a strike to Gronkowski, who made the grab and looked plenty healthy after missing the past two games with back and ankle issues.
Myers is money
New York’s Jason Myers tied it at 10 with 3 seconds remaining in the opening half, making a 55-yarder — and setting an NFL record with five field goals of 55 yards or longer in one season. He also tied the team’s home record for longest field goal for the fourth time this season.
Not so close
The previous five games between the teams at MetLife Stadium had all been decided by seven points or less — including a 26-20 overtime win by the Jets in Bowles’ first season.
Gronkowski finished with three catches for 56 yards and the score , his first since Week 1 against Houston.
“When he’s out there, it’s great for our offense,” Brady said. “I don’t want to minimize anything he does.”
McCown hit his right thumb on a helmet during the first half, causing a cut. He wouldn’t discuss the injury after the game, but had a heavy wrap around his hand when he left the locker room.
Television cameras caught Patriots wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson grabbing at Jets defensive end Henry Anderson’s privates at the end of a play. After the game, Patterson told reporters he took exception to Anderson’s body being too close to his face.
Patriots: Home vs. Minnesota next Sunday.
Jets: at Tennessee next Sunday.