Jets no longer have to answer questions about their long skid against the Patriots
The New England Patriots' reign of dominance over the New York Jets was swept away in the snow globe atmosphere that engulfed Gillette Stadium.
And what the end of the Jets' 15-game losing streak even sweeter is that their 17-3 victory Sunday might have come in Bill Belichick’s final game on New England’s sideline.
“Good to put it to bed,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said after completing 8 of 20 passes for 70 yards for the Jets (7-10).
Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals to help the Jets earn their first victory over the Patriots since an overtime win on Dec. 27, 2015. It marked the Jets’ first win in New England since the 2010 AFC divisional playoff round — and their first regular-season victory there since 2008.
“I’m sure Coach isn’t fired up when he gets questions about that that kind of stuff," Siemian said of Robert Saleh, who was 0-5 against the Patriots as the Jets' head coach. "You don’t have to talk about it anymore, probably.”
In recent years, New England’s victories over New York ran the gamut of either being lopsided or close shaves. In 2021, the Patriots continued to air it out in the fourth quarter in a 54-13 rout. Last season, the Jets allowed Patriots rookie Marcus Jones to return a punt for a touchdown during the final seconds of a 10-3 win that enabled New England to continue its dominance over its AFC East rival.
“You’ve got to do something pretty special to be able to have a winning streak like that,” Saleh said. “Today’s game was about starting 2024 on the right foot, getting a win, and hopefully the first of many in 2024."
Zuerlein converted from 21, 40 and 33 yards, but hit the left upright on his 49-yard try with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.
“Kind of a gritty game. Fun, but tough sledding out there,” Siemian said.
The Jets sacked Bailey Zappe seven times — including twice each by Quinnen Williams and Bryce Huff — and forced him to throw two interceptions in the fourth quarter when it was still a six-point game.
“It’s a true blessing. It’s the little things that matter," Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner said. “That’s a part of history, if you ask me. I wouldn’t want to do it with any other coaching staff or group of guys.”
The snowy conditions made it ideal to run the ball and the Jets pounded the Patriots behind Breece Hall, who rushed for a career-high 178 yards.
New York Jets running back Breece Hall (20) pushes away New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger on a run during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
“I looked out (Sunday morning) and saw a bunch of snow on the ground,” Hall said. “All of the backs knew they were going to have to carry the load.”
It was Hall's third 100-yard rushing game of the season and he finished just 6 yards shy of posting a 1,000-yard campaign after seeing his rookie year cut short by a knee injury.
“Yeah, we were aware,” Saleh said of Hall's chances of getting 1,000. “One of our mathematicians was wrong. We thought he got it, but we were 10 yards off. We were trying to get it for him on the last run, otherwise we would’ve taken a knee.”
Hall’s 36th carry of the game — he finished with a career-high 37 — resulted in a 50-yard touchdown that officially sealed the win for the Jets with 1:57 remaining. Hall had a 4-yard run on the final play of the game.
“You don’t notice it as the game goes along. You find that rhythm and as an offense focus on what you need to do,” Hall said when asked about the lofty number of carries.
Asked to characterize his team’s 7-10 season that began with losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a torn left Achilles tendon and concluded with snapping a lengthy skid against the Patriots, Saleh used the word “frustrating” before talking about getting 2024 off on the right foot.
“We know what we’re capable of," Saleh said, "and we’re a lot closer than I feel like people think.”