Mac Jones and the New England Patriots had a disappointing start to the season, losing their first two games by a single point.
They quickly improved after staring at a rare 0-3 for the proud franchise faced with a familiar opponent.
The Patriots defeated the New York Jets in a dismal 15-10 victory on a soggy Sunday after Jones completed a touchdown throw to Pharaoh Brown and Matt Judon had a late safety.
The Bill Belichick group continued to dominate its AFC East rivals while avoiding its first 0-3 start since the coach’s first year in New England in 2000.
In place of the injured Aaron Rodgers, Zach Wilson received his second start, but he was limited to just one effective possession in the fourth quarter that allowed the Jets (1-2) to tie the game.
Nick Bawden scored on a 1-yard run up the middle to make it 13-10 for New York with 5:24 remaining, capping a 13-play, 87-yard drive.
Wilson rushed for a first down after the Jets made a defensive stop, but it was lost due to a holding call by rookie guard Joe Tippmann on third-and-10 from their own 10. In the following play, Judon took down Wilson in the end zone, bringing the score to 15-10.
The Jets recovered possession of the ball but failed to score once more with 1:43 left. Wilson threw a 1-yard pass to Tyler Conklin on fourth-and-10, giving up the ball on downs and drawing boos from the remaining soggy Jets supporters at MetLife Stadium.
With 16 seconds remaining, New York still had a shot. Wilson’s 29-yard gain after connecting with Garrett Wilson put the ball on the Jets’ 46. Zach Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock with one-second remaining, then launched a Hail Mary that made it to the end zone and bounced around a bit before slipping just out of Randall Cobb’s reach.
Early on, there was a lot of slipping because of the intense rain that came through the region, which also caused part of the paint on the Jets emblems in the end zones to become smudged with player footprints during pregame warmups.
New York never managed to establish itself.
The victory over the Jets tied the Patriots’ record for the most straight victories over a foe. From 2003 to 2010, New England defeated Buffalo 15 times in a row.
With a 48-yard field goal to end the Patriots’ opening offensive series, Chad Ryland gave his team a 3-0 advantage. Early in the second quarter, Ryland missed another 48-yard attempt.
With 11:38 remaining in the first half, Jones lofted a throw to a wide-open Brown on New England’s following possession, and Brown raced downfield for a 58-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead.
Greg Zuerlein, who missed last week’s game due to a groin ailment, put the Jets on the board with a 52-yard field goal.
Just before halftime, the Patriots attempted to extend their lead, but Ryland failed on a 57-yard attempt following a high snap. Ryland, however, bounced back by making a 51-yard field goal on New England’s opening drive of the second half.
At the end, Jones was 15 of 29 for 201 yards. Rhamondre Stevenson got 59 yards on 19 carries, and Ezekiel Elliott had 80 yards on 16 carries. On a messy day overall, the Patriots played clean football.
The Jets finished 2 for 14 on third down after going 1 for 10 in those circumstances last weekend against Dallas thanks to Zach Wilson’s 18 of 36 for 157 yards.