EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bad back. Good leg.
Nick Folk sailed a 51-yard field goal through the sticks as time expired Monday night, giving the Patriots an improbable 30-27 comeback win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium and halting New England’s four-game skid.
Folk, who missed Saturday’s practice because of a back injury, didn’t seem at all bothered by it, capping a perfect night by kicking his former team while they were down.
“Happy to make it through,” Folk said about the injury. “It felt good enough to kick. I didn’t want to let the guys down.”
Folk, who was 3 for 3 on both field goals and on PATs, felt good about the kick shortly after he launched it.
“I knew I had enough leg to get it there,” he said. “Playing at MetLife for so long, [I know] night games are usually the [best conditions] here.”
The Jets, who led most of the way, including the entire second half until Folk’s blast sailed through, fell to a franchise-worst 0-9 and remain firmly in the pole position in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
“Nick did a great job. He’s a tough kid and he came through for us in a big way,” said Bill Belichick. “It couldn’t have been a bigger kick and he put it right down the middle. Awesome job by Nick and the whole [field goal] operation.”
Trailing, 27-17, entering the fourth quarter, the Patriots (3-5) scored the final 13 points led by a calm and cool Cam Newton, who finished 27 of 35 for 274 yards.
“We made the plays we needed to make at the end of the game,” said Belichick. “Cam made some good reads and good checks.”
The Patriots defense, which struggled for most of the game, tightened up in the fourth, grounding Joe Flacco and the Jets. New York ran just four offensive plays in the final period.
"There are no style points. The only stat that matters is if you get the win or the loss, and we got the ‘W,' " said Chase Winovich. “This was a great opportunity for the boys to go out and get a win.”
It was an exceptional turnaround by the Patriots, who early on were the ones seeing ghosts in Jimmy Hoffa’s neighborhood. Specifically, a ghost from Ravens past.
Flacco, subbing for Sam Darnold, put on a throwback clinic through the first 30 minutes, completing 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns as the Jets built a 20-10 halftime lead.
Flacco consistently carved up a New England secondary that has been strength of this defense, but was without No. 1 corner Stephon Gilmore for the second straight week because of a knee injury.
“We didn’t play well in the passing game,” said Belichick. “We gave up too many yards and too many points in the passing game.”
The Sunday scaries leaked into Monday as the Patriots watched Flacco lead the Jets on a lengthy scoring drive to take a 3-0 lead. The Jets nearly hit paydirt, but J.C. Jackson popped the ball out of Breshad Perriman’s hands in the end zone.
Instead, the hosts settled for Sergio Castillo’s 35-yard field goal.
Newton answered right back, guiding an eight-play, 75-yard journey he capped with a 5-yard run to give New England its first offensive touchdown in a first quarter this season. Flacco needed just five plays to re-take the lead, victimizing Jackson in the process, to go ahead, 10-7.
Jackson was hit with a pass interference call and gave up two catches for 67 yards, the second a 50-yard touchdown to Perriman.
The Patriots had a nice march going off the ensuing kickoff, but faced with a fourth-and-1 in Jets territory, disaster struck. New York nose tackle Folorunso Fatukasi blasted David Andrews, knocking the center into James White, causing a fumble in the backfield; the Patriots recovered, but the drive was finished. It was just the second regular-season fumble of White’s seven-year career.
Again, Flacco capitalized, zipping the Jets into New England’s side of the field before settling for Castillo’s 50-yard 3-pointer to extend the lead to 13-7. The Patriots answered with a Folk 45-yarder with just 1:03 left in the first half, but that was more than enough time for Flacco to deliver again, this time picking on Jason McCourty.
After hitting Denzel Mims for 15 yards, Flacco went deep to Perriman; Jason interfered and was flagged for a 42-yard penalty. One play later, Flacco dropped a dime to Jamison Crowder, who beat Jason and dragged his toes to up the Jets lead to 10 at the half.
New England stormed out of the locker room to start the second half, going 78 yards on 13 plays capped by a Rex Burkhead 1-yard run to make it 20-17. The defense could not feed off the momentum, however.
Flacco led the Jets on an 11-play drive that he culminated with a 15-yard scoring strike to Perriman. Again, it was a 10-point ballgame, headed to the fourth quarter.
“I kind of slipped on the one,” said Jackson. "I was thinking, ‘Oh man, he got me.' "
But Jackson would get Flacco, too. After Folk’s 29-yarder pulled New England within 27-20, Jackson picked off Flacco — his fourth straight game with an interception — and the Patriots were back in business. New England went 72 yards in 11 plays, capped by a Newton plunge to tie it with 1:57 left.
The Patriots then forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 22 with just 47 ticks. Newton went to White three straight plays for 20 yards, snuck for five more and a first down, then hit Jakobi Meyers (12 catches, 169 yards) with a 20-yarder with three seconds left to set up Folk for hero status.
“I had my ups and downs,” said Jackson, who could have said the same thing about the entire defense. “But it’s about how you finish and tonight we finished.”