The Sweetest Patriots Victories Against the Jets

Over the past 25 years, the New England Patriots have played the part of “big brother” extremely well against the New York Jets. Most of the time, New England has not only beaten their division rival once or twice a season but flat-out humiliated them. Last year was the first time that the Jets won a game in Gillette Stadium since 2010 when they pulled off a stunning upset in the Divisional Round. Now that Aaron Rodgers is expected to be fully healthy, New York expects him to be their missing piece to winning a championship, but the Patriots are never afraid to play spoiler. Let’s count down the five sweetest victories that New England earned against the Jets and learn just how lob-sided of a rivalry it has become.

The Sweetest Patriots Victories Over the Jets in History

#5: Mark Sanchez, Meet Leigh Bodden

The 2009 season was a promising season for both franchises in different ways. The Patriots were getting their face of the franchise Tom Brady back from a torn ACL, and after missing the playoffs in 2008 via tiebreaker, he was ready to make sure that they got back in the big dance by January. For the Jets, they were transitioning into an entirely new era with first-time head coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Not only did they have solid pieces on their offense, but they had an outstanding defense full of playmakers, and they were ready to shock the world. Before this game on November 22 took place, these two teams played each other in the old Giants Stadium in Week 2, and New York did not allow a single touchdown in a stunning 16-9 upset. However, the Jets stagnated throughout the early portion of the season and entered this game 4-5 with little to no shot of making the playoffs, while the Patriots had a comfortable division lead at 6-3.

Throughout the entire contest, it showed that New England was just the vastly superior football team. Despite a 100+ yard performance from Pro Bowl running back Thomas Jones, Sanchez only completed eight of twenty-one passes and threw not one, not two, but four interceptions and lost a fumble! Three of those picks were courtesy of Leigh Bodden, a seventh-year cornerback who gave New England its first seven points of the afternoon with a pick-six, which set the tone for the Patriots. Once the defense got on the board, then it was time for the offense to show out. Wes Welker had one of the best games of his career by catching fifteen passes for 192 yards, Brady threw for exactly 310, and Laurence Maroney punched in two of the three offensive touchdowns. Brandon Meriweather and Tully Banta-Cain forced the final turnovers of the game, and New England convincingly snatched a 31-14 victory at home.

That victory moved New England to 7-3 for the season, and although they went 3-4 the rest of the way, they still clinched the AFC East and Tom Brady won his only Comeback Player of the Year Award as a result. As for New York, that loss dropped them to 4-6, but that sparked a fire in that locker room because they proceeded to run the table by winning five out of their final six regular-season games to clinch the playoffs. More importantly, they pulled off outstanding upsets against the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers to advance to the AFC Championship game, before ultimately coming up short against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

#4: The Patriots Give Out Christmas Joy

December 24, 2016 will forever be remembered as one of the most beautiful days in the history of the Patriots franchise. Heading into this Christmas Eve game against the Jets, it was a total mismatch right from the start. After Tom Brady came back from a four-game suspension earlier in the year, he only lost one start and threw just two interceptions, which was the biggest reason why New England had the best record in all of football at 12-2. The Jets, on the other hand, were a complete train wreck. After barely missing the playoffs the year before at 10-6, they decided to bring the band back together to try to get over the hump, which involved having Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback. Little did that franchise know that it was only a mirage and the season was over by the time December rolled around.

When a team is starting Bryce Petty in an NFL game in 2016 against the Patriots, then everybody knows that this game was already over. Sure enough, by the time the Patriots scored their first touchdown, it was already a wrap. Their offense was not completely lights out, but to tell the truth, they did not need to be whatsoever. Brady still threw three touchdown passes, LeGarrette Blount hammered in a couple of scores of his own, and they still put up forty-one points! Petty, on the other hand, only lasted one quarter. He attempted three passes and did not complete a single one while adding on an interception to Malcolm Butler. Fitzpatrick took over and played just as bad, if not worse, only completing eight of twenty-one passes with picks himself. Not only were the Jets one for eleven on third down, but totaled as many points as they did turnovers, which was three!

The Patriots gave their fans in Gillette Stadium plenty of Christmas joy when they not only beat their most inferior division rival, but flat-out humiliated them 41-3 in their house. The good news for the Jets was that they managed to win their final game of the season by beating the Buffalo Bills at home, but that doesn’t erase the pain whatsoever. The Patriots, on the other hand, went on to win their fifth Super Bowl in franchise history and just continued to be the envy of the entire National Football League.

#3: Marcus Jones Scores the Only Touchdown

This might sound crazy given the current nature of this rivalry, but in the 2022 season, the Patriots and Jets were trying to compete for playoff contention. Although both offenses left a lot to be desired, especially when it came to their quarterback situation, they had really solid defenses that were the biggest reason why they were playing competitive and inspired football. Ironically, New York had a better record at 6-3 entering this game in Gillette Stadium, but one of those three losses came to this same team in MetLife Stadium just two weeks prior. Their quarterback Zach Wilson threw three interceptions in that defeat, and even though Mac Jones was sacked six times in that loss, the Patriots still did just enough to escape with a 22-17 victory. Whoever lost this game in Gillette Stadium was going to have a bleak shot of making the postseason, while the winner had at least a better chance of backing in, so this was a really pivotal game for both teams.

Little did anybody know that this game would be one of the most boring yet exciting ones in their entire history playing against one another. For fifty-nine minutes, both offenses were stuck in quicksand and could not score more than three points. Even though Mac Jones had a healthy stat line, which included just four incompletions and well over 245 passing yards, he still got sacked six times by a ferocious Jets defensive front coached by Robert Saleh. The Patriots’ offense was actually moving the ball decently well for most of the game, but their main issue was that they could not finish and close the deal on drives. When Nick Folk is missing two easy field goals, then that is even more alarming, since he was one of their most reliable players that season. The Jets offense, on the other hand, were disgraceful. The two previous games that were mentioned were bad enough, but Zach Wilson was just more atrocious given the circumstances. For the record, his defense came up with six sacks and just allowed three points, which is a blowout victory in any other game. However, Wilson only completed nine of twenty-two passes and threw for just 77 yards, while getting sacked four times himself. They could not run the ball whatsoever, no receiver on their team finished with more than two receptions, and they finished the game with 103 total yards of offense! This should not even have been as close as it was, but finally, a huge special teams play put on the finishing touches.

Twenty-six seconds left, fourth down and three at the Jets thirty-two-yard line, the game tied at three. In a two-minute situation, New York had a chance to finally march down the field and take the lead, but their offense once again stalled out. Punter Braden Mann decided to make a line drive kick towards the right side near returner Marcus Jones, who had just won the starting job for that position. The rookie fields it from his own sixteen-yard line, looking for some space to maneuver. After breaking a couple of tackles and finding his blocks, Jones somehow had a wide-open path to the end zone, and he ended up scoring the only touchdown of the game that gave the Patriots the win!

Although both teams ended up missing the playoffs that season, Mac Jones at least kept his starting job for the rest of the season, while Zach Wilson ended up getting benched that following week for backup Mike White. To top it all off, when Wilson was asked if he felt he let the defense down for that loss, he quickly said “No” and offered no further explanation. The New York Jets, everybody!

#2: “I’m Seeing Ghosts”

Halloween might have only been ten days away in 2019, but it came very early for Sam Darnold in MetLife Stadium. Some were saying that this was a “trap game” for the undefeated Patriots at the time for a couple of reasons. Their starting quarterback was fully healthy after missing a few games with mononucleosis, and they had just beaten the Dallas Cowboys in his first start back, one of the most talented teams in all of football that season. However, both teams quickly proved that last year was just an absolute fluke.

What was supposed to be another career-setting performance for Darnold ended up being the worst of his entire career. It’s not really because of the 86 passing yards that he finished with on Monday Night Football. It’s not that he threw four interceptions, and all of them happened because he decided to throw the ball off his back foot under cover zero blitzes. Instead, the biggest reason why Darnold was forever ridiculed after that day was because of one simple line that ESPN caught him saying on the sideline: “I’m seeing ghosts.” Every time that he dropped back in the pocket, the Patriots kept disguising their coverages and completely confused him whenever he tried to throw the football. He could not tell where the pressure was coming from, he couldn’t identify if he was going up against zone or man coverage, and he completely lost all confidence in himself as the game wore on. Any time that a blitz defender came through the line unblocked, all Darnold did was drift in the pocket and just heave it up for grabs, which would land in the hands of a New England defender. The Patriots’ offense was not even that great that day, but Sony Michel still scored three touchdowns, and still scored 31 points! The other two came from a botched snap over the head of Darnold in the endzone, which became a safety. New England did not just beat the Jets on Monday Night Football but blew them out 33-0 in what was one of the most humiliating performances in NFL History.

The Patriots ended up finishing the 2019 season 12-4 and won yet another AFC East title. By the time that game concluded, the Jets were 1-5 and they were pretty much written off for the rest of the year. However, they still finished at a respectable 7-9 record, but the Sam Darnold and Adam Gase era quickly ended one season later.

#1: The Butt Fumble

If anybody saw the headline of this article, then the number one game on this list was a no-brainer. On Thanksgiving of 2012, the Patriots and Jets were very fortunate to be playing each other at 8:15 that night, just when everybody was finishing their last bit of turkey and piece of pie, with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth leading the broadcast. The Patriots were 7-3 and, unsurprisingly, the best team in the AFC East and were trying to fight with the Denver Broncos for the number one seed in the entire conference. On the other side, the Jets were still a decent team at 4-6 with an outside chance of making the playoffs, but they were no longer the hopeful Cinderella story that they were between 2009 and 2010. If there was anything for New York to salvage and save their season, it would be beating their biggest enemy at home with the whole world watching.

The first quarter of this game was pretty boring with neither team scoring, but by the time the second quarter started, it was over. On the very first play of the period, Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to Wes Welker on a simple out route that gave New England the lead. The Jets proceeded to get into field goal range but were faced with a fourth down at the New England thirty-one-yard line. Instead of taking the points, Rex Ryan decided to go for it and try to get a touchdown, a respectful and aggressive decision. Not only did Shonn Greene get stuffed behind the line, but he lost the football as he tried to fight for the first down, and the Patriots recovered. One play later, Shane Vereen caught a check-down pass in the flat and accelerated past the entire Jets defense for an eighty-three-yard touchdown! But wait, it gets even worse, and it is because of this sequence right here. Two plays after New England went up 14-0, Mark Sanchez took the snap and tried to execute a simple running play, but there was just one problem: nobody was in the backfield. Recognizing this on a broken play, he tried to just take it himself and pick up some positive yards, but then he ran into the back of his own teammate and lost the football! Patriots defender Steve Gregory quickly picked the ball up and took it all the way back for yet another touchdown, which created the greatest meme in the NFL: The Butt Fumble! But it does not even end there! On the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight decided to return it from the endzone, but that once again quickly backfired. Not only was there another fumble, but the ball popped up right in the hands of Julian Edelman, and he ran it back for the fourth Patriots touchdown of the game! Three scored in not even a minute! It was game over from there, and New England completely blew out the Jets 49-19 in front of a nationally televised audience.

Bringing up the stats of this game would not do this justice. The Butt Fumble might be the most humiliating play in the history of the Jets franchise, but the Patriots will never complain about being on the right side of it whatsoever. The normal script repeated itself for New England: they won twelve games, they won the AFC East and advanced to the conference championship before losing to the Baltimore Ravens. As for the Jets, they finished with a 6-10 record, and the 2012 season would be the last time that Mark Sanchez would ever start a game for that team.

Main Image: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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