Banged-up Brady glad week's over - and with win for Patriots
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Brady got one practice in last week before facing the New York Jets. The New England Patriots hope his ailing knee allows him to get a few more in this week before hosting the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
''I'm happy the week is over,'' Brady said after a 22-17 victory over the Patriots' AFC East rivals. ''It was a long week.''
Brady never considered not playing, despite his knee being sore and leaving him listed as questionable for the game . He was hardly spectacular, going 30 of 50 for 286 yards and two TDs, but he was good as ever in the end.
Brady tied Peyton Manning for most wins by a quarterback in NFL history, getting his 200th by throwing a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with 1:56 left. It also was the 50th win for Brady after facing a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.
''The quarterback's job is to win,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ''He's won a lot. That's good. I'm glad he's our quarterback.''
The Patriots (9-2) had to play mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who returned after missing last week with a chest injury but left this one with a back injury late in the first quarter.
Belichick had no update on Gronkowski's condition, but the tight end was seen walking very gingerly from the locker room to the team buses outside MetLife Stadium.
''I haven't seen Rob,'' Belichick said. ''I don't know.''
While the health of Brady and Gronkowski will again be a hot topic this week leading up to the Rams game, the Patriots proved a little to themselves with this victory.
''We've been the same team all year,'' tight end Martellus Bennett said. ''Wherever we go, we bring the fight with us. I always say, B.Y.O.E., which is Bring Your Own Energy. When you come to a place like this, that's something we have to do. We were able to make plays when it counted.''
Trailing 17-16 with 5:04 left and the ball on the Patriots 17, Brady led a solid drive by completing six passes. After James White stretched for 4 yards on fourth-and-4, a 25-yard catch by Chris Hogan put the ball at the 8. Brady then zipped a pass to Mitchell to put the Patriots ahead.
A 2-point conversion try by White was initially ruled good, but reversed on replay because the ball never crossed the goal line - giving the Jets (3-8) a final chance.
But Chris Long hit Ryan Fitzpatrick before he could throw, resulting in a fumble recovered by Trey Flowers.
The Patriots then ran out the clock to win the closely played game that had been flexed out of a prime-time spot. The teams have had a final margin of seven points or fewer in each of their last seven meetings.
''We've got to find a way to finish at the end of ballgames,'' Jets coach Todd Bowles said.
Here are some other things to know from the Patriots' win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium:
Brady improved to 22-6 in regular-season games against the Jets, joining Brett Favre as the only QBs in NFL history with at least 22 wins vs. two teams. Brady has 26 victories vs. Buffalo.
He reached another milestone in the second quarter when he completed an 18-yard pass to Julian Edelman, joining Manning (71,940), Favre (71,838), Drew Brees (64,180) and Dan Marino (61,361) as the only players with 60,000 yards passing. Brady is now at 60,229.
''I've had a lot of really great support over the years, so hopefully we can keep winning,'' he said. ''It never gets old.''
Mitchell has begun to emerge as a big playmaker for the Patriots.
The fourth-round draft pick out of Georgia has nine catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including two against the Jets, in his last two games.
''He's come through in the clutch,'' Brady said, ''so we keep giving him opportunities.''
Bowles was non-committal about having Fitzpatrick remain the Jets' starting quarterback next Monday night against Indianapolis.
Fitzpatrick, back as the starter after missing New York's last game with a sprained knee, was 22 of 32 for 269 yards and two TDs.
''I'll evaluate everything as the week goes forward,'' Bowles said. ''I'm not going to make a rash decision today one way or the other. For the most part, he did a good job.''
Q IS THE ANSWER
Quincy Enunwa set a single-game high with 109 yards on five catches, the first 100-yard game of his Jets career.
He also made a highlight-reel play when he hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, soaring above Malcolm Butler for the catch, with his right foot coming down in the end zone and then his backside, but not his left foot. It was initially called an incomplete pass, but Bowles challenged and the call was reversed.
''Good thing he does all those squats and got his butt down,'' Fitzpatrick joked.
With the victory, the Patriots clinched a 16th straight season with winning record and tied San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) for the most consecutive winning years since the 1970 merger.
New England also has its 31st winning season since the merger to tie Dallas for second, behind only Pittsburgh's 33 in that span.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL