|10.22.12 at 2:01 am ET|
In the first quarter of New England’s 29-26 overtime win against the Jets, McCourty took a kickoff four yards deep in the end zone and returned it 104 yards for a touchdown that tied the game, 7-7, and gave the Patriots new energy.
“It was a kind of what a special teams coach would love to see, ran the ball, made one cut and everyone else got blocked except the kicker,” said McCourty, who deked Jets kicker Nick Folk on his way to paydirt. “When your kickoff return team does that, block everyone except for one guy, as a returner, you’ve got to score right there.”
Then came the nightmare for McCourty and special teams coach O’Brien.
McCourty took a hit from Lex Hilliard at the Patriots 15 and fumbled, with Hillard recovering at the Patriots 18 after the Jets had tied the game, 23-23. The Jets did not take full advantage and converted only a field goal with 1:37 left to take a 26-23 lead.
“My teammates saved my life today,” McCourty said. “A bad mistake in the fourth quarter that I just have to do a better job of holding the ball. This was just a total team win. We just kept fighting. Things didn’t go our way the whole game today. We made enough plays when we needed to for the win.”
McCourty was rescued when Stephen Gostkowski hit a game-tying 43-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime and a 48-yarder in overtime to provide the margin of victory.
“That’s not something that I think I should do and plan on doing so just paying more attention and securing the ball better. I can’t let those other 10 guys down that are working hard to make some tough blocks out there. Whether it’s a score or not, I just can’t let the ball go.”
|10.22.12 at 12:24 am ET|
FOXBORO — After Rob Ninkovich forced and recovered the game-winning fumble in overtime against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork laid down on the field, resting out his exhaustion from the physical battle with the divisional opponent.
The rest of that defensive unit celebrated on the field, and was quickly joined by the rest of the team, while Wilfork took his time standing back up.
Wilfork said in his post-game press conference that he was just tired ‘ nothing injury related ‘ but had to keep going on what proved to be the final play for the sake of the pass rush, which Bill Belichick emphasized to his defensive unit as the overtime period started.
Belichick’s words rang through the defensive front seven’s minds, and ended up being the deciding factor in tonight’s victory.
‘Bill [Belichick] in overtime came to us and said ‘We’re going to need the rush. We’re going to need the rush.’ And I think everybody on that defensive line, or whoever was a part of our pass rushing unit, I think we all understood that we had to get after it nonstop,’ Wilfork said. ‘I was doubled on that play, but I just tried to keep the wheels turning, just in the back of my mind knowing how important it was to get out and get off the field and try to win this ball game. Because our offense put us in a good spot, going down, kicking the field goal and putting us ahead. We knew if we got a stop, the game would be over. And I think the guys responded well.’
While the pass rush for New England was evident, at least for the most crucial point in the contest, the pass defense didn’t exactly shine.
The Patriots secondary gave up six plays to the Jets that went for 20 or more yards. Second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley accounted for three of them off passes from Mark Sanchez. It’s a glaring weakness on the stat sheet, but Wilfork remarked that at the end of the day, a win is a win.
‘You know what? We really don’t pay any attention, to be honest with you,’ Wilfork said. ‘For the most part, I think our guys came to work. They understood. We got a lot of holding penalties, but what that tells me is they were getting their hands on the receivers; they were trying to be physical with the receivers.
‘You can always look at film and play better technique, but I was proud to actually see these guys get their hands on balls, get their hands on the receivers, make a few plays in a critical situations. It never was perfect; you never play a perfect football game, but at the end of the day, we made more plays to win the ball game and that’s the only thing that matters right now.’
|10.21.12 at 10:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — People were beginning to wonder whether or not Tom Brady still had the ‘clutch gene.”
The Patriots and their veteran quarterback this season have either been comfortably ahead of opponents entering the final few minutes or have struggled to hold a lead and found it necessary to fight for survival.
Brady’s critics were silenced for the time being on Sunday night, as the Brady of old led a 12-play, 54-yard drive that set up the game-tying field goal at Gillette Stadium Sunday in what would become a win over the Jets.
Shaking off Week 2 memories of a missed potential game-winner was Stephen Gostkowski, who hit a 48-yard field goal to put the Patriots ahead in overtime. New England’s defense forced a fumble on the Jets’ rebuttal, and The Patriots climbed back above .500 with the 29-26 victory.
After the game, Brady said that he hadn’t paid much attention to those questions being asked about his whether or not he could still lead a game-winning drive.
‘I haven’t turned the TV on in a week, so I don’t know what anyone said,’ Brady said. ‘But it was good to win that game. It was a tough game. It always is against the Jets. It’s nice to pull out a close one, so I’m glad we did that today.’
He said that the offense executed better on the last two drives, which ended in the game-tying and game-winning fields goals. The two prior drives ended in punts after six and three plays, respectively.
‘It really wasn’t our best day of execution in terms of assignments — we have to nail those things down,’ he said. ‘A lot of those inconsistencies, you don’t score points, and we didn’t score as many as we needed to. And those last couple of drives, we moved the ball better. I wouldn’t say they were great drives, but they were good enough.’
Good enough for the win was good enough for Brady, who admits it’s tough to say what the identity of this offense is yet. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and depending on the week, as Brady said, an offense’s identity could change drastically.
‘I think you continue to go do the things you’re doing well,’ Brady said. ‘You’d love to figure those things out in spring camps, but it really doesn’t play that way. You have some teams that you play and situations that you face and players that are healthy or not healthy, and schemes that you run. And you boil it down to what you’re good at. It’s only October.’
|10.21.12 at 10:01 pm ET|
|10.21.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com Patriots writers Chris Price and Mike Petraglia break down the Patriots thrilling 29-26 overtime win against the Jets Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
|10.21.12 at 7:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots had another late-game meltdown Sunday against the Jets, but a 43-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski at the buzzer tied it and a 48-yarder from Gostkowski in overtime — combined with a defensive stop from New England in the extra session — allowed New England to escape with a 29-26 win over New York.
New England led 23-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Jets put up 13 points late, with the final three coming on a 43-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Meanwhile, the Patriots, who had held fourth-quarter leads against the Ravens and Seahawks only to see them lose late, stalled out again down the stretch. That was until a fourth-quarter drive from quarterback Tom Brady ended with a 43-yard field goal from Gostkowski to force overtime and a stout stand in the extra session.
In overtime, the Patriots won the toss and came out with a 12-play. 54-yard drive that took 3:58 and ended with Gostkowski’s 48-yarder to give New England the lead. That set the stage for a sack from Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham on Mark Sanchez. New England recovered, and that was the ballgame.
The Patriots were led by quarterback Tom Brady, who finished with 26-for-42 for 259 and two touchdowns, while Stevan Ridley had 17 carries for 65 yards and Wes Welker had six catches for 66 yards and Rob Gronkowski had six receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢The Patriots escaped with the win, but stunning breakdowns on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter continue to dog New England. They led by nine in the fourth quarter against the Ravens and ended up losing. They were up 13 in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks and suffered the defeat. And it was the same old story on Sunday, as New England had its’ chances on both sides of the ball to blow the doors off the Jets all afternoon and couldn’t convert.
‘¢As was the case through much of the first six games, the Patriots left a lot of scoring opportunities out on the field throughout the afternoon, particularly early. The Jets had a safety, an ill-timed penalty that gave the ball back to New England after a punt and a turnover (a pick by rookie Alfonzo Dennard on a horribly thrown ball by Mark Sanchez), but the Patriots could only push out to a six-point lead at halftime. It all came back to bite them in the end, as New England couldn’t hold on down the stretch.
‘¢The Patriots’ pass defense again yielded at least six pass plays of 20-plus yards, as the Jets and Mark Sanchez moved up and down the field fairly easily. New England was able to mollify the problem with some red zone stops, but it was another tough day for the Patriots’ pass defense. (That doesn’t even take into account three defensive holding calls against cornerback Ras-I Dowling.)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢The Patriots were able to convert their first kickoff return for a touchdown on the season when McCourty brought a first-half return back 104 yards for New England’s first touchdown of the day. It was a great read by the defensive back, who went inside and then outside. He delivered a fantastic juke on kicker Nick Folk and ended up taking it all the way back for the second-longest kick return in Patriots’ history, and the first kick return for more than 40 yards for New England since offensive lineman Dan Connolly returned one 71 yards against the Packers in 2010.
‘¢In the third quarter, the New England offense went on a 15-play, 83-yard drive — the most consistent of the afternoon for the Patriots. New England used 6:54 on that drive, which was highlighted by two catches from Wes Welker that helped New England convert on third downs. In addition, there was a 16-yard completion from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez that got the Patriots down to the New York one. After a loss of one yard, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a two-yard touchdown pass, ending the series and giving the Patriots a 23-13 lead.
|10.21.12 at 6:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Three quarters are done here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots lead 23-13. Here are a few notes from the last 15 minutes of action:
‘¢It was a quiet quarter, compared to the first two. New York opened the quarter with a steady 11-play, 65-yard drive that included another pass play of 20-plus yards, that one coming on a 23-yard connection from Mark Sanchez to Dustin Keller that got the Jets within striking distance. The Patriots were able to get a good red-zone stop however, and Nick Folk connected on his second field goal of the day, a 21-yarder that made it 16-13 with 9:33 left in the quarter.
‘¢On their first drive of the second half, the Patriots matched that with a lengthy drive of their own. The New England offense went on a 15-play, 83-yard drive — the most consistent of the first two-plus quarters for the Patriots. New England used 6:54 on that drive for the Patriots, which was highlighted by two catches from Wes Welker that helped New England convert on third downs. In addition, there was a 16-yard completion from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez that got the Patriots down to the New York one (a play that had to be reviewed because there was some question about Hernandez having control as he went to the ground). After a loss of one yard, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a two-yard touchdown pass, ending the series and giving the Patriots a 23-13 lead.