Jets beat Patriots in overtime
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matt Cassel made Brett Favre and the New York Jets work overtime to take over the lead in the AFC East.
Cassel hit Randy Moss for a toe-tapping catch at the side of the end zone to tie the game with one second left in regulation, but Jay Feely’s 34-yard field goal on the first series of overtime gave the Jets a 34-31 victory over the New England Patriots and first place in the division.
"This win ranks right up there near the top," Favre said Thursday night after the Jets won their fourth straight game. "They had all the momentum. They had every reason to win. We could have folded. And, based on history, you would have bet against us. This says a lot about our team."
The Jets (7-3) beat the Patriots (6-4) for only the second time in 13 games, breaking a tie atop the division and giving the Jets sole possession of first for the first time since Nov. 19, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Patriots have won the AFC East the last five seasons and six of the last seven.
"It’s a great, great feeling for us," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "Everybody understands that this game was extremely important, and it’s important because it allows us to make the next game (against unbeaten Tennessee) extremely important. It’s a really positive step for our team."
The finish spoiled the best game of Cassel’s career. The former backup to injured NFL MVP Tom Brady completed 30 of 51 passes for 400 yards — all career highs — and three touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 62 yards — the sixth-best total ever for a Patriots quarterback.
"It’s not enough in a tight one like this, unfortunately," said Cassel, whose first-ever victory as a starter was a 19-10 win over the Jets in Week 2. "To show that kind of fight and tenacity, I thought that was great for the team."
Favre led the Jets to a 24-6 lead with two first-half touchdown passes, getting help from Leon Washington’s 92-yard kickoff return.
But Cassel finally got the Patriots into the end zone just before the half on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney. Then he hit Benjamin Watson for a 10-yard TD with no time left in the third quarter before connecting with Gaffney on a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-21.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal — a 47-yarder — to tie it with 10:16 left in regulation, and then both offenses struck.
The Jets did it with a 14-play, 67-yard drive that took 7:06 off the clock and gave them a 31-24 lead on Thomas Jones’ 1-yard run. After trading punts, the Patriots went 62 yards in 63 seconds with no timeouts before Cassel hit Moss on the right side of the end zone and the receiver managed to tap his second foot on the turf before landing out of bounds.
"Coming back was a confidence-booster," Gaffney said. "Matt gave us a chance."
In his NFL-record 263rd consecutive regular-season start, Favre went 26-of-33 for 258 yards and directed the only drive of overtime, covering 64 yards on 14 plays in 7:50.
"I was nervous as heck" heading into overtime, he said. "I said, ‘Why can’t we make this easy?’ It’s what I’m capable of doing. But I was nervous."
Notes: Jones rushed for 104 yards after running for 149 yards and three touchdowns against St. Louis. ... New England’s Wes Welker extended his record of catching at least six passes in a game to start the season to 10 games. ... The Patriots outgained the Jets 511 yards to 375. That’s the fourth-highest total in New England history. The two highest — 597 and 529 yards — also were against the Jets. ... It was Washington’s first kickoff return for a touchdown this season after he tied a team record last year with three.