FOXBOROUGH, Massachussets _ Forced to overtime by a last-second New England touchdown, the New York Jets recovered to beat the Patriots 34-31 on Thursday and take sole possession of their NFL division's lead.
New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (89) reaches the ball across the goal line for a touchdown between New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (L), cornerback Deltha O'Neal (C) and linebacker Mike Vrabel (rear) in the second quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts November 13, 2008. [Agencies]
Jay Feely kicked a 34-yard field goal in overtime to clinch the win, putting the Jets a game ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East division with six games to play. It is the first time they've led the division for seven years.
New England tied the game with one second left in regulation time, as quarterback Matt Cassel found Randy Moss for a touchdown.
The Jets, who led 24-6 in the first half, extended their winning streak to four and moved 1-1/2 games ahead of Buffalo and Miami in the tight division.
The loss wasted a brilliant performance by Cassel, who completed 30 of 51 passes for 400 yards _ all career highs _ and three touchdowns. He ran eight times for 62 yards.
The Patriots got the tying touchdown on Cassel's 16-yard pass to Moss on fourth down. Moss' diving sideline catch was reviewed when he was pushed out of bounds, but the score stood.
It capped an impressive late Patriots drive, as they marched downfield from their own 38-yard line with no timeouts and 1:04 left.
Jets quarterback 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, then Thomas Jones' 6-yard run moved it to the 18 and Feely connected for his second field goal of the game.
The Jets began the game strongly, scoring on their first three offensive series, plus a 92-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington.
Washington scored on a 7-yard pass play to open the scoring before the Patriots cut the lead to 7-3 on their first series as Stephen Gostkowski kicked the first of his three field goals.
The teams traded further field goals before Washington made his length-of-field return from the ensuing kickoff, to put the Jets in command.
And when Favre threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets led 24-6 with five minutes on the clock in the first half and the outlook was very bleak for the Patriots.
But 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. New England closed to withint 24-21 on Cassel's 2-point conversion pass to Gaffney.
The Patriots tied it on Gostkowski's 47-yard field goal with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Jones made touchdown run from the one-yard line with 3:10 left to again give New York the advantage before New England's late drive.