Tom Brady was hobbled, yet efficient as ever with the game on the line and time on the clock.
Playing with an ailing knee, Brady tied Peyton Manning for most wins by a quarterback in NFL history, getting his 200th by throwing a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with 1:56 left, leading the New England Patriots to a 22-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
Brady was modest when asked about the win after the game.
“It’s a team sport,” the Patriots quarterback said. “Individual awards and things like that mean that I’ve been a part of great teams with great coaches and great teammates, and I’ve had a lot of really great support over the years so hopefully we can keep winning. It never gets old.”
It was the 50th win for Brady after facing a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.
“That says a lot about him and what he’s been able to do for this franchise,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in his postgame news conference. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what a quarterback’s job is, is to win.
“I think today is a good example of not turning the ball over, some good situational plays that came up that don’t show up in the stat sheet, like the fourth-and-one offside. Things like that are plays that you need for your team to win. Tom does a great job of that. He’s a good situational football player. … I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
Trailing 17-16 with 5:04 left and the ball on the Patriots 17, Brady led a solid drive by completing six passes. After James White stretched for 4 yards on fourth-and-4, a 25-yard catch by Chris Hogan put the ball at the 8. Brady then zipped a pass to Mitchell to put the Patriots (9-2) ahead.
"We didn't play as well as we wanted to," Brady said, "but we made the plays when we needed to."
A 2-point conversion try by White was initially ruled good, but reversed on replay because the ball never crossed the goal line — giving the Jets (3-8) a final chance.
But Chris Long hit Ryan Fitzpatrick before he could throw, resulting in a fumble recovered by Trey Flowers.
The Patriots then ran out the clock to win the closely played game that had been flexed out of a prime-time spot. The teams have had a final margin of seven points or fewer in each of their last seven meetings.
"We've got to find a way to finish at the end of ballgames," Jets coach Todd Bowles said.
Patriots fans loudly chanted "Brady! Brady!" in the final moments at MetLife Stadium, which had lots of empty seats as frustrated Jets fans apparently stayed home. Brady improved to 22-6 in regular-season games against the Jets, joining Brett Favre as the only QBs in NFL history with at least 22 wins vs. two teams. Brady has 26 victories vs. Buffalo.
It was the 500th win in franchise history for the Patriots, the first original AFL franchise to reach the mark.
Brady, who was questionable with a knee injury , wasn't his usual spectacular self, but finished 30 of 50 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell caught five passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
Fitzpatrick, back as the starter after missing New York's last game with a sprained knee, was 22 of 32 for 269 yards.
"Playing against the Patriots, you don't have to play the perfect game," Fitzpatrick said, "but you can't make mistakes."
The Jets grabbed a 17-13 lead with 10:17 left when Quincy Enunwa leaped over Malcolm Butler in the end zone to bring in a pass from Fitzpatrick. The wide receiver's right foot came down inbounds and while his left foot never touched the ground, his backside did.
It was initially called an incomplete pass, but Bowles challenged and the call was reversed for a 22-yard touchdown.
Stephen Gostkowski's 41-yard field goal cut the Patriots' deficit to 17-16.
New England took advantage of a Jets turnover in the second quarter when Robby Anderson caught a pass and gained 25 yards, but had the ball punched out of his hands by Butler, who also recovered.
Brady went to work and completed an 18-yard pass to Julian Edelman, joining Manning (71,940), Favre (71,838), Drew Brees (64,180) and Dan Marino (61,361) as the only players with 60,000 yards passing. Brady is now at 60,229.
A 15-yard run by Dion Lewis got the ball to the 5 and he added a 1-yard run. On the next play, Bradyfumbled the snap but recovered and fired a pass to Mitchell for the tying score.
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski left late in the first quarter with a back injury. He had been uncertain to play after missing last week's game with a chest injury. It was not immediately certain if the latest injury was connected to the previous one.
Gronkowski had no catches when he left.
BLOCK AND A MISS
Nick Folk had a 54-yard attempt blocked by Alan Branch that was recovered by Dont'a Hightower with 1:58 left in the opening half, giving Brady and the Patriots the ball at their 46.
New England got to the 21, but the Patriots opted to not use a timeout. After an incompletion to Mitchell in the end zone, Gostkowski's 39-yard attempt was wide left, leaving the game tied at halftime.
Gostkowski kicked a 29-yarder midway through the third quarter, giving New England a 13-10 lead.
BACK IN THE END ZONE
Brandon Marshall's first touchdown catch since Oct. 9 against Pittsburgh gave New York a 10-0 lead 4 seconds into the second quarter.
Patriots: vs. Los Angeles next Sunday.
Jets: vs. Indianapolis next Monday night.