East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Mark Sanchez threw a career-high three touchdowns, and the New York Jets blanked the New England Patriots in the second half to come away with a 28-14 victory in a matchup of bitter AFC East rivals.
Sanchez threw for 220 yards on 21-of-30 efficiency and found Dustin Keller seven times for 115 yards and a score. Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery also hauled in a TD pass for the Jets (1-1), who scored 21 unanswered points to end the game.
“We didn’t pay much attention to any of the criticism,” Sanchez said of his team bouncing back from a season-opening loss to the Ravens. “This team has some great leaders and a lot of experience to lean on. I think it really showed today because we worked so hard all week. We knew that last week we lost a game to a good football team because they played hard and we had too many mistakes. You can’t win like that. We cleaned up a lot of them, but there are still more to clean up.”
Tom Brady ended with 248 yards on 20-of-36 throws but turned the ball over three times in the final 30 minutes with two interceptions and a lost fumble for New England (1-1), which was coming off a 38-24 win over Cincinnati.
“We didn’t do so well on defense,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Twenty-eight points is not going to win many games in this league. Scoring 14 (points) and turning the ball over three times isn’t going (to win games) either. We just didn’t make enough plays this game.”
Randy Moss, who was referred to as a “slouch” by Darrelle Revis after a pair of subpar performances against the All-Pro cornerback last year, hauled in a remarkable one-handed catch in the end zone to give the Patriots a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter. Revis was defending Moss on the play and pulled up as the receiver blew by him, citing a hamstring injury as he exited the game for good.
The 34-yard TD, which was the 150th of Moss’ illustrious career, came with 53 seconds left in the half, enough time for the Jets to get in field goal range for Nick Folk, who booted a 49-yarder just as the gun sounded.
The Jets continued the momentum swing when Antonio Cromartie intercepted a long pass intended for Moss at New York’s own three-yard line early in the third quarter. Keller’s 39-yard reception and runs of 14 and 11 yards by LaDainian Tomlinson set up Folk’s 36-yard field goal with under five minutes to go in the frame, cutting New York’s deficit to 14-13.
“We just came together at halftime,” Cromartie said. “We found out that he (Revis) wasn’t going in the second half and we just wanted to come out and communicate and play the way we’re capable of playing. We had to step up (and say), ’He’s been out (before).’ Let’s get our secondary set up.”
New England followed with its second three-and-out, and the Jets ate up huge chunks of yardage on the ensuing 70-yard drive. Tomlinson highlighted it by shedding a tackle at the line of scrimmage and running up the right sideline for 31 yards down to the New England four. After a gain of two, Sanchez connected with an open Cotchery in the back of the end zone.
Edwards came down with a two-point toss after the touchdown for a 21-14 cushion heading to the fourth.
The Jets failed to capitalize on Brodney Pool’s acrobatic interception along the sideline near midfield on the first play of the final stanza, but after another quick New England punt, the Jets used a pair of defensive pass interference penalties to get inside the opposing 10-yard line.
Shonn Greene rushed twice to the one, and Sanchez, off his back foot, was able to find Keller for a pivotal TD with 6:09 remaining in the contest.
Jason Taylor then thwarted a promising Patriots drive by sacking Brady and forcing a fumble at the New York 25. David Harris recovered the loose ball with just over four minutes remaining, and the Jets ran out the clock to seal the victory, the team’s second over their division foe in their last 10 home games.
New England burned 7 1/2 minutes off the clock on its first possession but failed to get any points. Stephen Gostkowski lined up for a 32-yard field goal, but an illegal formation pushed it back five yards and the kicker was wide left.
After a Jets punt, another lengthy march was aided by a personal foul penalty after an incomplete pass on third down. On 2nd-and-goal from the Jets’ six — the 15th play of the drive — Brady hit Wes Welker on an out route and the receiver was able to reach the ball over the goal line early in the second.
The hosts answered with their own seven-minute drive, converting three third downs, including a jump ball that Edwards pulled down in the left corner of the end zone on 3rd-and-3 from the 10 with just over six minutes left before halftime.
These teams split last year’s series…Moss has 149 receiving touchdowns and another on a punt return, joining Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Tomlinson as the only players with 150 career TDs…Tomlinson logged 76 yards on 11 carries, while Greene gained 52 on 15…Aaron Hernandez had a team-high 101 yards on six catches for New England…Moss and Welker each had 38 receiving yards.