The Patriots barely survived the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football at Gillette Stadium, winning 27-25 on a blocked 58-yard field goal attempt by Chris Jones at the final gun. The Patriots couldn't put this one away when they had the chance and have to feel incredibly lucky about winning. Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. A win is a win - There's plenty to complain about in the aftermath of this one but in the end, the Patriots were the team that emerged victorious. Despite breakdowns, bad decisions and questionable strategy from beginning to end, the Pats will have a nice long weekend at 5-2 and in control of the AFC East while the Jets will have to move on from their sixth consecutive defeat. There's no extra credit for style in the NFL. A win is a win, and despite having major problems getting it done, the Pats did it.
2. The Patriots' defense is an abomination - We knew that things would go into flux with Jerod Mayo lost for the season but the Patriots were absolutely horrendous on defense in this game and have a ton of work to do to get their multitude of issues on that side of the ball straightened out. The Jets, who rushed for 31 yards as a team last week against Denver, dominated the Pats' front seven, rushing for 218 yards at over five yards per attempt. It was a complete thrashing at the line of scrimmage, so thorough that even Mayo at full health wouldn't have been able to offer much help.
The Pats couldn't get off the field on third down, allowed scoring drives of 12, 10, 12, nine, 11 and 12 plays and let the Jets basically walk down the field and into position to attempt the game-winning kick with one minute and no timeouts left. Considering how bad the Jets were on offense leading up to this game, the Pats' defensive struggles look even worse in the aftermath. For their sake, they'd better hope that the short week caused them to be a step slow and the extra time to recover and get back to work before they host the Bears a week from Sunday will allow them to get back to at least close to normal on D.
3. Despite injuries, the offensive line continues to hold up - With the exception of two lousy second half possessions when Marcus Cannon spelled Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer at either tackle spot, Tom Brady (20-of-37, 267 yards, three TDs, 103.5 passer rating) stayed mostly clean and had ample time to survey the field and make all of his reads more often than not. The interior of the O-line, which was missing both Bryan Stork and Dan Connolly due to concussions, was particularly impressive, with Josh Kline and the much maligned Jordan Devey joining Ryan Wendell, who has been a stalwart since late in the Kansas City game, looking tough and even commanding at times. It was another encouraging week for the position group that looked to be this team's fatal flaw just three weeks ago.
4. What goes around comes around for Chris Jones - Last season, the Pats' defensive tackle was called for unpsortsmanlike conduct for pushing a teammate into the line on a missed 56-yard field goal attempt, which we learned afterward is illegal. It was a brutal call and it allowed the Jets to re-kick from 42 yards and emerge with a 30-27 win. It was only fitting then that Jones was the one who blocked Jets' kicker Nick Folk's 58-yard attempt as time expired to preserve this win for the Pats.
"I'm real happy for Chris," Belichick said postgame. "After what happened last year, it was fitting." If you don't believe in karma, perhaps this turn of events will change your mind.
5. The Amendola Redemption - Coming into the game, the Pats' expensive 2013 free agent signing had a measly four catches for 23 yards and seemed to have a reception eliminated by a penalty every week. While that happened again on Thursday (maybe Josh McDaniels should just toss the Brandon LaFell pick play at this point), Amendola managed to haul in the decisive TD, a twisting, acrobatic grab of a pass thrown about a foot behind him on 3rd and goal from 19. Amendola also made his debut as the Pats' primary kick returner and was excellent in the role, averaging over 26 yards a pop. And to make a good night even better, it was Amendola who came up with the recovery of a late game onside kick by the Jets. Belichick even praised him after the game, commending him for "giving us a lot of energy." Hopefully, some grateful Pats' fans will buy the beleaguered Amendola a few drinks tonight. He deserves 'em.