Aaron Hernandez court appearance
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
EAST RUTHERFORD – Snap back to reality.
The New England Patriots beat the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday in front of 77,562 at MetLife Stadium to claim sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the first time this season.
The Jets (3-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped and are in last place.
Things seem … normal again.
But the ending of this one was far from ordinary.
After New England scored 24 straight points, the Jets nearly closed the deficit to three midway through the fourth quarter when tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score his second touchdown of the game.
But after a review, referee Tony Corrente announced the call was overturned, ruling Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the ball before he crossed the goal line, resulting in a fumble out of bounds in the end zone, giving the Patriots possession.
“The final shot that we saw was from the end zone that showed the New York Jets’ runner, we’ll call him a runner at that point, with the football starting to go toward the ground. He lost the ball,” Corrente explained to a pool reporter. “It came out of his control as he was almost to the ground. Now he re-grasps the ball and by rule, now he has to complete the process of a recovery, which means he has to survive the ground again. So in recovering it, he recovered, hit the knee, started to roll and the ball came out a second time.
“So the ball started to move in his hands this way … he’s now out of bounds in the end zone, which now created a touchback. So he didn’t survive the recovery and didn’t survive the ground during the recovery is what happened here.”
Seferian-Jenkins said he believed he scored but took responsibility for juggling the ball.
“I’ve got to have better ball security and run through those defenders,” he said. “I let my team down.”
Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was in on the tackle and immediately went into spin control — in the ear of the referees and his own coach.
“The first thing Malcolm told me was the ball was out,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “That’s why ball possession is so important.”
Chandler Catanzaro kicked a field goal on the Jets’ next possession to make it 24-17 with 3:40 to play, and New York got the ball back on its own 27-yard line just inside the two-minute warning.
Josh McCown’s 32-yard pass to wide-open wide receiver Robby Anderson on fourth-and-12 kept the drive alive, but the Jets didn’t have any timeouts at that point and they went spike, incompletion, sack, incompletion on the final four plays to seal it.
“We had other plays in the game that we could have made to make up for that,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said about the fumble. “I’m not gonna blame this game on one play.”
New England (4-2), which has won the AFC East 13 of the last 14 years, won its 11th straight road game and has won six of its last seven against the Jets.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, after sitting out the Patriots’ win in Tampa two Thursdays ago with a bruised left thigh, scored two touchdowns, his first multi-touchdown game since the 2015 season opener.
The Patriots took the lead for good on Gronkowski’s 33-yard touchdown catch from Tom Brady to make it 21-14 with 11:22 left in the third quarter.
Gronkowski, who had six catches for 93 yards, caught a pass over the middle, outran Jets safety Marcus Maye and high-stepped into the end zone.
“Every time you come into New York, it’s gonna be a dogfight,” Gronkowski said. “They’re physical and they don’t back down. … Every win’s not pretty.”
The 40-year-old Brady, who had been sacked 16 times and hit a total of 32 times through the first two games, wasn’t sacked by the Jets and was hit four times.
Brady threw an interception for the second straight game — the first time he has done that since 2015 — but broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for the most regular-season wins in NFL history with 187.
Brady, who finished 20-of-38 passing for 257 yards, has 212 wins including the postseason, which was already an NFL record (Manning is second with 200).
“When you win a game like this, 24-17, there were some good plays we made but a lot we left out there,” Brady said. “We could have won 50-0 and it would be the same thing.”
Early on, it appeared the Jets might be able to spring the upset.
New York took a 14-0 lead with 12:18 left in the second quarter on Jeremy Kerley’s 31-yard touchdown catch from McCown, who finished with 354 passing yards. He became the sixth straight quarterback to have a 300-yard passing game against New England to start the season.
The Jets entered the game with only seven first-quarter points this season, but marched 88 yards in 13 plays on their opening drive, with Seferian-Jenkins making his second touchdown catch in as many weeks.
Kerley set up the Jets at the 1-yard line with a 30-yard catch on third-and-6, his longest reception of the season.
The Jets scored only three points the rest of the way, though many people thought it should have been more.
“You don’t want to be panicking (because) we’ve been in that situation before,” Gronkowski said. “You can’t score 14 points in one drive.”
That’s the reality of the situation.
NOTES: Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski missed his first field goal of the season, a 47-yard attempt in the second quarter, wide right. It was his first miss on a kick of less than 50 yards since last season’s game at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 27, when he missed a 39-yard attempt. … Patriots RB Mike Gillislee lost a fumble for only the second time in his five-year career. His other one was also at MetLife Stadium, in a 2015 season-ending win over the Jets when he was with the Buffalo Bills. … Patriots WR Chris Hogan was injured in the second quarter on a hit by S Marcus Maye, but returned to the game. … Patriots S Devin McCourty, a New Jersey native, had his first interception of the season and 20th of his eight-year career. … Jets CB Buster Skrine had a fumble recovery and an interception in the first half, and it was the first time he has had one of each in a game in his seven-year career. … Jets LB Darron Lee, the second-year man out of Ohio State, had the first forced fumble of his career. … Jets DE Leonard Williams hobbled off in the third quarter, but returned to start the fourth. … Jets WR Robby Anderson was injured on the last play of the game and his status was not updated postgame.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jets have scored just seven first-quarter points through five games this season; so, even if they can put up a field goal or two early, it should allow them to maintain a balanced offense at least through the first half.
If they fall behind and have to start passing on most downs, that’s where Josh McCown begins to make mistakes. New England will mix more zone looks into the plan. McCown has shown the ability to keep plays alive at times with his legs. He also has had the benefit of a complementary running game that’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry heading into this matchup with a struggling Patriots run defense that’s allowing five yards a rush. New England must tackle better regardless of whether DT Alan Branch, who was a healthy scratch a week ago, returns to the mix.
If the Patriots can keep New York from big plays — a big if for a New England defense that has allowed 21 pass plays longer than 20 yards and six runs longer than 10 yards — it should give Tom Brady and Co. more than enough time to build a lead and control the flow of the game. But if the big-play problems persist, this could turn into another dogfight in the long rivalry.
Defensively for the Jets, it’s extremely simple: Hit Brady, or else. Brady has been hit 32 times in five games, but even at 40 years old, he rarely makes mistakes — he has one interception and two lost fumbles this season. The Jets have five interceptions during their three-game winning streak, but getting one off Brady will be a tall task.
The Patriots are going to throw the ball, early and often. Brady has attempted at least 35 passes in each game this year, leading the NFL’s No. 1 offense and No. 1 passing attack. There’s probably little reason to change the approach against a Jets defense that starts a pair of rookies at safety and has tallied just seven sacks in five games. Brady should get TE Rob Gronkowski back on Sunday and have the versatile corps of targets to spread the Jets out both vertically and horizontally.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Jets QB Josh McCown vs. Patriots pass defense. All five quarterbacks who have faced the Patriots’ 32nd-ranked pass defense this season have thrown for 300 yards, and they have combined to throw 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The veteran McCown has been solid to open the year as the placeholder at quarterback for the Jets, helping to lead New York to three wins by completing 71.4 percent of his passes. Working with a solid running game, McCown has yet to top 250 yards passing and it will be interesting to see whether he finds as much room to work as previous opposing passers have against a pass defense that feels like it’s moving in the right direction even if the numbers don’t yet show it.
–Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. Jets rookie Ss Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Brady has gotten off to a fast start, leading the NFL’s No. 1 passing attack while putting up numbers better than everyone not named Alex Smith. This week he takes on a Jets pass defense that has been middle of the road through the first month-plus, and he will likely target New York’s rookie safeties. Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack can challenge a pass defense and young safeties in so many ways, with Gronkowski, versatile WRs Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan, and pass-catching back James White. New York’s talented young defensive backs appear to have bright futures, but they could be in a for a day of learning against Brady and Co.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
–Out: CB Eric Rowe (groin)
–Questionable: RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
NEW YORK JETS
–Questionable: RB Bilal Powell (calf), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder, toe)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jets K Chandler Catanzaro. He has had quite the last two weeks, as he hit the winning field goal in overtime against the Jaguars and set a franchise record with a 57-yard field goal against the Browns. He is 10-for-12 on field goals this season and hasn’t missed any of his eight extra points. He seems to be gaining confidence by the week.
FAST FACTS: Patriots QB Tom Brady aims for his fifth game in a row with 300 passing yards. In the past 13 meetings with the Jets, he has 3,500 yards (269.2 per game), 26 TDs and four INTs. He threw three TD passes and no INTs in the last meeting. … Patriots RB James White ranks first among NFL RBs with 29 catches in 2017. He has nine TD catches since 2015, tied for most among NFL RBs. … Jets QB Josh McCown completed 23 of 30 (76.7 percent) with two TDs last week. His passer rating has been over 100 in three of the past four games. … Jets WR Jermaine Kearse had a TD catch last week. He leads the team with 220 yards receiving and three TD catches. … Jets LB Demario Davis had a sack last week. He has eight-plus tackles in three of the past four meetings with the Patriots. He leads the team and is tied for the NFL lead with 46 tackles.
PREDICTION: The surprising Jets will push the Patriots but fall short in the end.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
NEW YORK – An unexpected showdown for first place in the AFC East will take place when the surprising New York Jets host the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Preseason forecasts were dire for the Jets with some projections of an 0-16 campaign, but they have ripped off three consecutive victories to grab a share of the division lead.
New York squeezed out a 17-14 victory at winless Cleveland last week and has yielded 40 points during its three-game run, but the players know the bar will be raised Sunday, particularly with the Patriots having an extra three days of rest. “They are more dangerous because … if you have somebody that’s good at preparation and you give them extra days, that doesn’t mean they get bad, they get better,” Jets quarterback Josh McCown said. “We know it’s going to be a tough matchup.” The Patriots, who already have lost twice at home, are averaging an NFL-best 419.4 yards per game but are also surrendering a league-worst 447.2. Quarterback Tom Brady suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in a 19-14 victory at Tampa Bay but said he will be ready when New England goes for its 11 win in 13 regular-season meetings against New York.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -9.5. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (3-2): New England owns the top-ranked passing attack and Brady has thrown for a league-high 1,702 yards, but it has come at a cost — he has been sacked 16 times through the five games, one more than all of last season. Despite the absence of star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is dealing with a thigh injury that caused him to sit out at Tampa Bay, Brady threw for 300 yards for the fifth consecutive game, although he was intercepted for the first time. Oft-injured wideout Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan each had eight receptions versus the Buccaneers but speedster Brandin Cooks is the team’s most dangerous weapon. The Patriots have been gashed for an average of 36 points in three home games, but they have surrendered a combined 34 points in road wins at New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
ABOUT THE JETS (3-2): New York is barely averaging 300 yards of total offense and has yielded 14 more points than it has scored, so the team is under no illusions — “We have, in no way, arrived,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum acknowledged — of the need for improvement. The well-traveled McCown, with his fourth time in five seasons, has registered a passer rating above 100 three times in five games, but he could be without his top two running backs as Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are both nursing injuries. Former Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse leads the Jets with 22 receptions and three touchdowns. The defense, which has notched only seven sacks, ranking 31st in the league, needs to apply pressure on Brady.
1. Brady has 26 touchdowns passes against only four interceptions in his last 13 matchups against New York.
2. McCown ranks second in the NFL with a completion percentage of 71.4.
3. Cooks has seven touchdowns in his last seven games versus AFC foes.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Head Official: Carl Cheffers
Patriots QB Tom Brady
TAMPA – The New England Patriots went from suffocating to exasperating but still achieved their goal.
They got a much-needed victory.
Utilizing dominance through three quarters, then hanging on by their fingernails in the fourth, the Patriots escaped with a 19-14 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium.
“There are still a lot of things we need to work on,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “There are things we can do better, but I think our whole defense competed well.”
New England (3-2), which allowed an NFL-high average of 456.8 yards in its first four games, stifled the Bucs (2-2) through three quarters.
However, Tampa Bay, which finished with 409 yards, put on a furious fourth-quarter rally. The Bucs got within striking distance on Jameis Winston’s 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate with 2:09 remaining, then had one final possession.
Winston, who was 13 of 21 for 225 yards in the fourth quarter alone, drove Tampa Bay to the New England 19-yard line with three seconds remaining.
His final-play pass near the end zone, intended for rookie tight end O.J. Howard, fell incomplete.
“The quarterback has to make a play in that situation,” said Winston, who was 26 of 46 for 334 yards overall. “I didn’t give my guys the opportunity to make a play.”
The loss can hardly be pinned on Winston, though.
Bucs kicker Nick Folk missed three field-goal attempts, including a 31-yarder with 5:36 remaining that would have trimmed New England’s lead to 16-10.
Meanwhile, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski connected on four field-goal attempts, including a 48-yarder with 1:10 to play that provided a needed cushion.
Folk also failed to convert from 56 and 49 yards, and he has made only one field goal in his past six attempts.
Through three quarters, Winston had passed for just 109 yards. Tampa Bay failed on its first seven third-down conversions.
“Early on, we just couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “When we started playing helter-skelter, that’s when we started to move it. That’s the no-huddle theory. That’s when we seemed to move it. We needed to do it much earlier than we did.”
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said, “We gave up some yards, but I think we got better (than in previous games). (Winston) made some great throws. I’ve got to tip my hat to him. But we did some things to slow him down (earlier in the game). We got a win, and that was what we really needed.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Patriots also got field goals of 27, 23 and 45 yards from Gostkowski.
New England committed 12 penalties for 108 yards, but the Bucs had the game’s costliest penalty in the fourth quarter. Trailing 16-7, with third-and-goal from the Patriots 3-yard line, Winston scored on a scramble, but the play was negated by an illegal-use-of-hands penalty on offensive lineman Evan Smith.
Winston threw an incompletion from the 13, and Tampa Bay opted for Folk, who was wide left on his 31-yard attempt.
Utilizing a pair of long scoring drives, New England led 13-7 at halftime.
The Patriots opened the scoring on Gostkowski’s 27-yard field goal, capping a 13-play, 89-yard drive, which began at their 2-yard line after a 45-yard punt from the Bucs’ Bryan Anger.
Tampa Bay took a 7-3 lead with 8:26 remaining in the half, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Doug Martin, back in action after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
The Patriots regained their advantage 10-7 on Brady’s 5-yard pass to Chris Hogan that completed a nine-play, 75-yard march. Gostkowski tacked on a 23-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining in the half.
NOTES: The Patriots were without inactive TE Rob Gronkowski (thigh), a late addition to New England’s injury report on Wednesday. … The Bucs played without three defensive starters — LB Kwon Alexander, LB Lavonte David and S Keith Tandy — who were inactive. Alexander missed his third consecutive game. … Tampa Bay rookie S Justin Evans, making his first NFL start, intercepted a pass from QB Tom Brady on New England’s opening drive. … Malcolm Glazer, the former Bucs owner who died in 2014, was inducted into Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor at halftime. Glazer purchased the franchise in 1995 and presided over its best times — five playoff berths in seven seasons and a championship in Super Bowl XXXVII. … Brady won his 186th regular-season game, tying him with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre atop the all-time list. … Brady made his 240th NFL start, tying former Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino for third place on the all-time list. Favre (298) and Manning (265) are the top two.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-2) AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-1)
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, Raymond James Stadium, TV: CBS/NFL Network, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (fField reporter), Jay Feely (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 6-2, including three straight victories. Five of the Pats wins have come by at least 17 points. New England has won the last three games by a combined score of 86-10.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Patriots arrive with the No. 1 offense in the NFL as quarterback Tom Brady has passed for 1,399 yards to receivers like bully-boy tight end Rob Gronkowski, speedy Brandin Cooks and clever Danny Amendola. That offense is averaging 423 yards per game. And that would be even more impressive if the Patriots defense were not also giving up a league-high 456.8 yards per game. The resulting track meets ruined all that talk about the Patriots’ perfect season and now they hope not to fall below .500 against a Tampa Bay team seeking to make a name for itself. Watch for Brady to throw early and often against a Bucs defense that is giving ups 394 yards per contest.
The Bucs feel pretty good about their offense and the way quarterback Jameis Winston played last week. When he makes good decisions and does not turn the ball over, Winston makes the Bucs tough to beat. But head coach Dirk Koetter wants balance. He wants to limit the Patriots’ possessions and keep the defense fresh. To do that, the Bucs must remain committed to running the football.
The Bucs found a running game vs. the Giants behind Jacquizz Rodgers, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry and had a 32-yard run. On Thursday, the Bucs will have the use of running back Doug Martin, who returns from the last three games of a suspension for PEDs. Martin will have fresh legs, but look for him to split the workload with Rodgers. Koetter knows the Patriots aren’t playing well on defense, but he doesn’t expect that to continue.
“When you study them, they’re an amoeba defense,” Koetter said. “They can play any personnel group, they can change from week-to-week, they can be in even-front one week, an odd-front next week, they will play dime the whole game. They’ve got a nickel package, a dime package (and a) quarter package. They’ve always been able to adjust. They will switch at halftime and they’ve always been a very difficult team to plan for. In that respect, maybe it’s better that we do play them on a Thursday night.”
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
–Patriots WR Brandin Cooks vs. Bucs CB Brent Grimes. The Patriots are throwing the ball down the field more than ever with Brady averaging more than nine yards per attempt. Cooks and Chris Hogan are legitimate deep threats and will test Grimes, who allowed only two receptions last week to the Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr.
–Patriots CBs vs. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans. Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, et al, have been generous this season. The test doesn’t get any easier against Evans and the upstart Bucs passing attack. Evans leads the Tampa Bay offense with 19 catches for 227 yards (11.9 average) with two touchdowns in three games. He is Jameis Winston’s go-to guy. In recent weeks, New England’s opposing passers (Deshaun Watson/Cam Newton) put up big numbers to their top targets (DeAndre Hopkins/Kelvin Benjamin).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Tampa Bay safety Justin Smith. The Bucs used a second-round pick on the safety from Texas A&M, who is a terrific athlete. Smith was pressed into action last Sunday against the Giants after Keith Tandy left the game with a hip injury. He played well, and his range may be an asset against a team like the Patriots who like to throw the football down the field this season.
FAST FACTS: Pats QB Tom Brady passed for 307 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs and is looking for his fourth consecutive game passing for more than 300 yards. WR Chris Hogan has 4 TD catches in last three games and leads AFC with those four TD catches. WR Brandin Cooks collected 98 yards receiving in his last game vs. TB (12/24/16 with NO). LB Dont’a Hightower made one sack last week. CB Malcolm Butler, who was in the coach’s doghouse a couple of weeks ago, had an INT last week; has 2 INTs and 5 PDs in last 3 games vs. NFC … Bucs QB Jameis Winston threw for 332 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs and a 113 rating last week. RB Jacquizz Rodgers totaled 108 yards from scrimmage in last meeting. WR Mike Evans is going for fourth consecutive home game with a TD catch. He has 20 receptions for 307 yards, 2 TDs in past 2 Thursday games. Since 2015, Evans is 3rd in NFC with 2,754 yards receiving. DT Gerald McCoy has 8.5 sacks in past 10 games vs. AFC. Since 2013, McCoy leads NFL DTs with 33.5 sacks. DE Robert Ayers has 6 sacks & 2 FFs in past 8 games vs. AFC. CB Brent Grimes has 17 PD & 3 INTs, incl. 31-yard INT-TD in past 9 home games. He leads the NFL with 70 PD and ranks fourth with 17 INTs since 2013.
PREDICTION: It certainly would do wonders for their belief factor if the Bucs managed to take down last season’s Super Bowl champs on Prime-Time Thursday Night. But despite a Patriots defense that is yielding 458 yards a game, Winston may be snookered into a few of his infamous turnovers. The Pats will help by confusing him with an amorphous defense.