(Sunday, January 16th)
Final Score: NY Jets 28, New England 21
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - The Jets defense backed up its boisterous talk Sunday by silencing the league's best offense, and Mark Sanchez threw for three touchdowns to carry New York to its second straight AFC Championship Game with a 28-21 upset of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Jets sacked Tom Brady five times, forced the All-Pro quarterback into his first interception since Week 6 and held the Patriots 11 points below their season average, stunning their AFC East rivals a mere 41 days after getting embarrassed, 45-3, on the same field.
Sanchez was an efficient 16-of-25 passing for 194 yards and tossed TDs to Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Jerricho Cotchery chipped in with 96 yards on five receptions for the sixth- seeded Jets, none bigger than a 58-yard catch-and-run that set up a critical fourth-quarter touchdown after New England cut its deficit to three.
The Jets, winners of four road playoff games the past two seasons, next head to Pittsburgh for a right to play in the Super Bowl. New York has already won at Heinz Field this season, beating the Steelers, 22-17, in Week 15.
The Patriots have not lost in Brady's last 27 regular season home starts, but have dropped consecutive playoffs games at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens rolled to a 33-14 win against New England in last year's Wild Card round.
Brady ended 29-of-45 for 299 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Deion Branch with 24 seconds remaining.
However, the Jets recovered their second onside kick of the final two minutes to seal the surprising decision.
"Bottom line is we didn't play well enough," deadpanned Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We had some chances that we weren't able to take advantage of."
The Patriots trailed 14-3 in the third quarter and were on their heels when Shonn Greene gained their 42-yard line with a 20-yard run.
The hosts forced a punt, though, and Brady guided them on an eight-play, 80- yard march that ended in Alge Crumpler's two-yard TD grab with 13 seconds left in the frame. They went for two and converted, as Sammy Morris took a direct snap and dove over the goal line to make it a three-point game.
Undeterred, the Jets answered immediately, in no small part to the efforts of Cotchery, who took a short pass over the middle, made his way up the right sideline, leapt over a defender and went 58 yards to the New England 13.
Three plays later, from the seven, Sanchez threw a fade route to Holmes in the left corner of the end zone, and the Super Bowl XLIII MVP made a spectacular diving grab while getting his right knee inbounds for the score.
A run-heavy drive chewed up eight minutes on the ensuing Patriots possession. They reached the Jets' 31 with seven minutes left, but the Jets stuffed Danny Woodhead at the line of scrimmage, sacked Brady on second down and caused two incompletions, the last a throw that went behind Branch and resulted in a turnover on downs with 5:15 to go.
New York played conservatively with three straight runs and punted away with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Brady made three straight completions to gain the Jets' 18, but netted just one yard the next three plays, bringing out Shayne Graham for a 35-yard field goal just past the two-minute warning.
The onside kick scooted away from the receiving team, and as the ball rolled around, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie scooped it up near midfield and returned it to the New England 25. Two play later, Greene went in for the game-winning score, a 16-yard gallop that ended with Rex Ryan celebrating with his team in the end zone.
"I knew if we applied ourselves and played the way we were capable of playing we could beat them, and that's exactly what happened," said Ryan, who proclaimed earlier in the week this was the second biggest game in franchise history behind Super Bowl III. "Same old Jets, going to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row. The only difference is we plan on winning this one."
Last year, the Jets lost to Indianapolis in the AFC title game, 30-17.
Jets linebacker David Harris picked off Brady's fifth pass of the game and returned it 58 yards to the New England 12-yard line, getting chased down from behind by Crumpler.
The Jets failed to capitalize as Nick Folk, who booted a 32-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Colts last week, was narrowly wide-left on a 30-yard try to keep it scoreless.
It was the first interception for Brady in an NFL-record 340 pass attempts, but the All-Pro quarterback brought the hosts right back down the field. He hit Crumpler for a 28-yard pickup to gain the Jets' 12, but after the veteran tight end dropped a sure touchdown a little later, the Patriots settled for a 34-yard field goal by Graham.
The Jets got on the scoreboard 4:36 into the second. Sanchez bought time with his legs and hit Edwards for a 37-yard gain to move into the red zone, then found Tomlinson in the left flat for a seven-yard touchdown.
New England had one first down in four possessions during the second quarter, and opted for a fake punt with just over a minute left in the half. On 4th- and-4 from their own 38, upback Pat Chung dropped the direct snap and was tackled for no gain.
The Jets took advantage of the short field and went into the break ahead 14-3 after Edwards caught a short slant and carried a pair of defensive backs -- Brandon Meriweather and Devin McCourty -- into the end zone for a 15-yard TD.
The sixth seed has prevailed over the top seed in six of the last seven instances in the playoffs, including the Packers upending the Falcons in Atlanta in the NFC Divisional round on Saturday....The Jets were playing without right tackle Damien Woody (Achilles) and wide receiver/punt returner Brad Smith (groin), both of whom were injured in last week's win over Indianapolis...New England wide receiver Wes Welker sat out the Patriots' first offensive series. He ended with seven catches for 57 yards...Greene gained 76 yards on 17 carries, while Woodhead, who was released by the Jets earlier this season, led the Patriots with 46 yards on 14 totes....The Jets set a franchise-record with eight road victories in a single season (including postseason). The previous high was seven set in 2009..Brady is 4-5 in his last nine playoff games after winning his first 10. He is currently tied with Terry Bradshaw for the fifth most playoff touchdown passes with 30.
01/17 00:24:59 ET
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