(Reuters) - The New England Patriots blocked a 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired to hold on for a 27-25 victory over the slumping New York Jets on Thursday.
Tom Brady tossed three touchdown passes but the Patriots (5-2) faced a surprisingly tough challenge from their lowly AFC East rivals before emerging with a third win in a row.
“They’re off to a tough start and they gave us everything we could handle,” Brady told reporters. “Football is a tough sport and you never know what you’re going to get. It comes down to how you perform when it matters most.”
In a tight contest at New England’s Gillette Stadium, New York quarterback Geno Smith threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland to pull the Jets to within two points with a little more than two minutes remaining.
New York, however, failed to convert a two-point conversion that would have tied the game and their final desperation drive reached the New England 40, where Nick Folk’s kick was blocked.
Folk finished with four field goals as the Jets (1-6) fell to their sixth straight loss, their longest losing streak since 2007.
There was little indication of the Jets putting up much resistance when Brady fired a 49-yard touchdown pass to Shane Vereen after just two-and-a-half minutes.
However, New York refused to buckle and although they could not find the end zone, four field goals kept it close as the Jets trailed 17-12 at halftime.
Better was to follow for the visitors when a strong opening second-half drive led to Chris Ivory’s one-yard touchdown that put the Jets 19-17 ahead early in the third.
New England responded with a field goal to regain the lead and Brady fired a 19-yard strike to Danny Amendola with 7:49 remaining in the game to stretch the advantage to eight points.
Smith, who is enduring a tough second NFL campaign, finished with 226 yards passing and did not commit a turnover but was still unable to grind out the win.
New England running back Vereen, who has taken the lead role after the team lost Stevan Ridley to a season-ending knee injury, rushed for 43 yards and added 71 receiving yards for two scores.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien