BY SEAN DONOVAN
After a highly-contentious, back-and-forth 60 minutes of regulation, Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich forced and recovered a fumble from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to stymie the Jets' final chance to win the game.
The game-clinching takeaway came as the Jets were driving down to either tie or win the game after New England took the lead on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
"You never play a perfect football game," Patriots' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said after the game, according to the team's website. "At the end of the day, we made more plays to win the ballgame."
The ill-timed turnover, along with an ugly second-quarter interception, may very well overshadow an otherwise fantastic performance by Mark Sanchez in the losing effort. Sanchez completed 28-of-41 passes for 328 yards despite a rash of drops by Jets receivers.
The oft-ridiculed signal caller also threaded in a 7-yard touchdown strike to tight end Dustin Keller late in the fourth quarter to bring New York within three points, a play that capped off a 14-play, 92-yard drive that gave new life to the team.
The Jets' effort was worthy of the moment, as this game decided which team would take the outright AFC East lead at a critical juncture of the season. The Patriots got all they could handle, but most importantly, took the victory in the end.
"They came out, they took a few shots, but they basically took what we gave them [and] made some plays... Our main job was to get out of this game with a W," Wilfork said. "I don’t care how we get it: get a W."
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