All Alone On Top
The New York Jets stand alone atop the tight AFC East standings - barely.
Jay Feely kicked a 34-yard field goal on the first series of overtime after New England tied the game on Matt Cassel's pass to Randy Moss with one second left in regulation and the Jets survived a Tom Brady-like comeback with a 34-31 victory Thursday night.
The win broke a tie for the division lead between the teams and gave the New York Jets (7-3) sole possession of first place for the first time since Nov. 19, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The New England Patriots (6-4) have won the AFC East the last five seasons and six of the last seven.
``It's a great, great feeling for us,'' Jets coach Eric Mangini said. ``Everybody understands that this game was extremely important, and it's important because it allows us to make the next game (against Tennessee) extremely important. It's a really positive step for our team.''
The Jets, who led 24-6 in the first half, extended their winning streak to four with their sixth victory in seven games and are 1 1/2 games ahead of Buffalo and Miami in the division.
The loss wasted a brilliant performance by Cassel, whose first pro start after Brady's season-ending knee injury in the opener came in a 19-10 win over the Jets. Cassel completed 30 of 51 passes for 400 yards, all career highs, and three touchdowns. He ran eight times for 62 yards.
``It's not enough,'' Cassel said.
The Patriots got the tying touchdown on Cassel's 16-yard pass on fourth down. Moss' diving sideline catch was reviewed when he was pushed out of bounds by cornerback Ty Law, but the touchdown stood.
New England had marched to Moss' touchdown from its 38-yard line with no timeouts and 1:04 left
Stephen Gostkowski's extra point tied it and erased a 31-24 lead the Jets had taken on Thomas Jones' 1-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left.
Brett Favre made his 263rd consecutive regular-season start, an NFL record, and went 26-of-33 for 258 yards and directed the only drive of overtime, covering 64 yards on 14 plays in 7:50. His 16-yard pass to Laveranues Coles brought the ball to the Patriots' 24-yard line, Jones' 6-yard run moved it to the 18 and Feely connected for his second field goal of the game.
``We talked during the week about the need to reload and finish the game,'' Mangini said, ``and we did that.''
The Jets scored on their first three series, plus a 92-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington, four days after scoring on all seven of their first-half possessions in a 47-3 rout of the St. Louis Rams.
Washington also scored on a 7-yard pass play before the Patriots cut the lead to 7-3 on their first series on the first of Gostkowski's three field goals, a 42-yarder.
Feely kicked a 22-yarder for the Jets before Gostkowski connected again, from 31 yards to cap a 12-play drive.
New York needed just one play - Washington's return - to score on the ensuing kickoff. It was his first kickoff return for a touchdown this season after he tied a team record last year with three.
And when Favre threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets led 24-6 with 4:57 left in the first half and the outlook was very bleak for the Patriots.
``We dug ourselves a hole,'' New England coach Bill Belichick said. ``We made some plays to get back in there.''
Cassel threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Jabar Gaffney with 15 seconds left in the half and a 10-yarder to Benjamin Watson on the final play from scrimmage of the third quarter. Then New England made it 24-21 on Cassel's 2-point conversion pass to Gaffney.
``Anytime you can come back from a 24-6 deficit, it's a building block,'' Cassel said. ``That was great for the team.''
The Patriots tied it on Gostkowski's 47-yard field goal with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Notes: The Jets beat the Patriots for only the second time in 13 games. ... New England's Wes Welker extended his record of catching at least six passes in a game to start the season to 10 games. ... The Patriots outgained the Jets 511 yards to 375. That's the fourth-highest total in New England history. The two highest - 597 and 529 yards - also were against the Jets.
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