FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite earning few style points, the New England Patriots are off to a 2-0 start.
Just four days after pulling out a tight victory at Buffalo, the injury-hammered Patriots nipped the New York Jets 13-10 Thursday night in a poorly played game marred by 20 punts and a skirmish in the final minute.
“Last year we were 1-2 and we ended up having a great season, so I’m glad we started off 2-0 with two wins in the division,” quarterback Tom Brady said after suffering through a second straight game of personal frustration. “I just want us to do a better job on offense.”
New England finished with nine first downs, three in the second half, and was outgained 318-232 in total yards.
Playing in a rainstorm that started suddenly at the end of halftime and continued through the rest of the game, the Jets (1-1) threatened to rally from a 13-3 deficit, cutting it to 13-10 on a 3-yard Bilal Powell run with 5:05 left in the third quarter. However, rookie quarterback Geno Smith was intercepted by cornerbacks Aqib Talib (twice) and Alfonzo Dennard in the fourth quarter to allow the Patriots to escape.
Brady completed only 19 passes, 13 of them to Julian Edelman, who registered a career high in catches good for 78 yards. Edelman added 72 yards on six punt returns.
“My dude @Edelman11 is having a hell of a game,” tweeted ex-teammate Wes Welker. “Keep it going bud!”
Said Edelman: “The defense played a hell of a game, came up with some big plays. Hats off to them.”
Brady, who showed his frustration on the field and admitted later he had to improve his body language, wound up 19-for-39 for 185 yards and a touchdown.
“I’m glad we won,” he said after the Patriots’ fifth consecutive win over the Jets. “We just obviously have a lot of room for improvement. We have to get back to work and try and do a better job next week.”
The Jets knew they had a chance. Their coach, Rex Ryan, liked the way his team competed but pointed to four turnovers as the key.
“When we watch the film, we are going to be sick to our stomachs because we gave them one,” New York linebacker David Harris said.
“We should’ve won today; just too many turnovers,” said Jets tight end Kellen Winslow, who had three catches. “We’ll get ‘em next time.”
New England rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson, making his NFL debut after missing Sunday’s game with a leg injury, scored on his first play early in the game. Dobson caught a 39-yard bomb from Brady on a nifty play-action on third-and-2. He had trouble holding onto the ball the rest of the night but finished with three catches for 56 yards.
The Patriots sported a patchwork offense due to the absence of injured wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin), running back Shane Vereen (wrist) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back), plus the loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez to an arrest for murder.
Smith, who showed poise but missed badly on some key passes and had others dropped, finished 15-for-35 for 214 yards. His final pick, to Talib, who also forced a first-quarter fumble, came on a play that ended with the teams in a melee near the sideline.
New York offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon were ejected, Ferguson for hitting an official, Colon for throwing a punch. The skirmish started on a late hit by New York center Nick Mangold, who thought he made a good tackle.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals for New England, and Nick Folk had one for the Jets.
It took New England just 2:06 to take a 7-0 lead, and the home team led 10-0 just 5:43 into the game, but the Patriots didn’t score for the final 35:05..
Patriots rookie punter Ryan Allen tied two franchise records with 11 punts for 514 yards.
NOTES: The officials had as tough a night as the players, incorrectly calling two touchdown catches, one for each team, that were taken away on review. .. Jets QB Mark Sanchez, likely out for the season with an injured right shoulder, told NFL Network that he actually won the battle for the starting spot over Smith. … Amendola, who has a checkered injury history, is expected to miss anywhere from two to six weeks. … The Jets were missing WR/KR Jeremy Kerley, out with a concussion, while New England was also without rookie TE Zach Sudfeld (groin). … Brady threw a TD pass for the 50th straight game, four shy of tying Drew Brees’ NFL record. He also passed former teammate Drew Bledsoe and moved into seventh place on the all-time completions list. … Ferguson made his 114th consecutive start, tops among current NFL tackles. He has started every game and sat out just one play in his career. … The Patriots claimed DT Chris Jones off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and released OL Josh Kline. … New England hosts Tampa Bay on Sept. 22, while the Jets return home to play the Buffalo Bills the same day.