December 16, 2007
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Bad weather couldn't stop the Patriots' march toward an undefeated season.
Neither could the New York Jets.
Facing rain, wind and chilly gusts above 20 mph, New England and Tom Brady found a new way to win -- running and eating up the clock -- and beat the New York Jets 20-10 Sunday in the Spygate rematch.
Coach Bill Belichick brushed off the elements as a necessary nuisance, much like his usually cold postgame handshakes with Eric Mangini. The Jets coach, his former friend and protege, had turned him in for using a sideline videocamera in violation of NFL rules after the season opener.
But this time, their exchange was pleasant. Belichick smiled all the way from the sideline until he reached Mangini and appeared to say, "Great game, awesome," as they shook hands. Then Belichick walked away, pumping his first twice over his head.
The Patriots (14-0) stopped the sideline taping when they were nabbed in the first quarter of the first game, a 38-14 win over the Jets (3-11) at the Meadowlands. The coaches exchanged a quick, cold handshake at the end of that game, just as they had done after their two regular-season meetings last season.
The NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away their first-round draft choice next year for the illegal taping.
On Sunday, video helped the Patriots when they challenged a call of a 7-yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington, who was in for the injured Kellen Clemens, to Justin McCareins with 2:32 left. Replay officials ruled he didn't get both feet in the back of the end zone. Then Mike Nugent missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
With the win, New England clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs even though Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season. The Patriots remaining games are at home against Miami and at the New York Giants.
Laurence Maroney ran for 104 yards, just the fourth time this season a New England rusher surpassed 100. The Jets entered the game having allowed the third most yards rushing this season.
On New York's second offensive play, Richard Seymour slammed Clemens to the ground in the Jets end zone, forcing a bad throw and an interception that Eugene Wilson returned 5 yards for a touchdown.
Clemens didn't return after being sacked and Pennington took over. Brad Smith also took some snaps at quarterback, but the Jets' offense was held without a touchdown.
Fans celebrated the touchdown by throwing some of the 6 inches of snow that fell before the game into the air. The puffs of white powder flew again when Kelley Washington blocked a punt by Ben Graham, giving the Patriots the ball at the Jets' 3.
Two plays later, Maroney scored on a 1-yard run with 1:05 left in the half and the Patriots led 17-7 at intermission. And more snow sailed from the stands.
That made up for the Patriots' own botched punt midway through the second quarter. Chris Hanson bobbled the snap and by the time he kicked, David Bowens was inches away and blocked the ball. Bowens scooped it up and ran 26 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7.
New England did get off the punt on its next series, then Washington slapped Graham's punt with his right hand on the following possession.
Fans drove through snow that turned to sleet and, finally, to rain. Gillette Stadium was half empty a few minutes before the game began but was nearly full as it progressed.
On about a half-dozen occasions in the first half, fans bundled in parkas, rain slickers and Brady jerseys flung snow into the air and onto the field. Some were aimed at the Jets' bench.
So with 3:55 left, the officials held up the game until fans stopped throwing snowballs. But that brief lull didn't stop the Patriots.
After play resumed, Stephen Gostkowski's 34-yard field goal, his second of the game, made it 20-10.