FOXBOROUGH — As expected, the Patriots were without some key personnel on offense in Thursday’s 13-10 win over the Jets, with receiver Danny Amendola, running back Brandon Bolden, and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Zach Sudfeld on the inactive list.
Amendola and Gronkowski were listed as doubtful to play; Amendola aggravated a groin injury in Sunday’s season-opening win at Buffalo, and Gronkowski has only returned to practice two weeks ago, getting into football shape after a series of surgeries to his forearm and back. NFL Network reported before the game that Amendola could miss up to six weeks.
Bolden (knee) and Sudfeld (hamstring) had been listed as questionable. Bolden also missed the opener, and Sudfeld was limited in his snap count after getting hurt.
Their absence made for a new-look unit, especially at receiver. The last time the Jets played at Gillette Stadium — a 29-26 overtime win by the Patriots on Oct. 21, 2012 — the Patriots started Shane Vereen at running back, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd at receiver, and Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at tight end. None of those five were on the field Thursday night.
In their place: Stevan Ridley at running back, James Develin at fullback, Julian Edelman and rookie Kenbrell Thompkins at receiver, and Michael Hoomanawanui at tight end. Matthew Mulligan, a tight end who was re-signed on Tuesday, was in uniform and making his Patriots debut.
Two others making their debuts for New England were running back Leon Washington and receiver Aaron Dobson. A second-round pick from Marshall, Dobson wasted no time making an impact, catching a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady for his first NFL reception.
The other three players inactive for the game were offensive lineman Will Svitek (knee), linebacker Steve Beauharnais, and defensive lineman Chris Jones, who was claimed off waivers this week after being released by the Buccaneers.
Back in the saddle
One of the longest weeks of Ridley’s professional career was a short one, at least.
Ridley, benched for more than two quarters of the season opener after his fumble was returned for a touchdown, started Thursday night’s home opener against the Jets out of necessity, with Vereen on injured reserve. No fumbles for Ridley this game, but not many yards, either. Ridley carried 16 times for 40 yards. Both numbers represented team highs in a sloppy, sluggish win.
There was one near-fumble, Ridley bobbling a pitch on second and 10 from the Jets’ 45-yard-line with a little more than two minutes left. He lost a yard. But most importantly, he didn’t lose the ball.
The Patriots gained just 54 yards on the ground, the Jets crowding the line of scrimmage on most plays and daring Brady to throw to a young, inexperienced receiving corps. That plan worked for the Jets, on two fronts: The Patriots didn’t have much success running the ball, and Brady didn’t have much luck completing passes to his wideouts. He connected on fewer than 50 percent of his passes (19 of 39).
Both the team and the coach have kept contract details mostly quiet through the years, but according to a pregame report by the NFL Network, Bill Belichick will be coaching the Patriots “for a long time.”
The contract extension Belichick signed in 2007 was set to expire after the 2013 season. Now, according to the report, a new deal has been reached.
“He is not going anywhere,” the report said.
Belichick is 170-64 with the Patriots, and is the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL, having guided New England since 2000.
He’s had 12 consecutive winning seasons, 10 straight years of at least 10 wins, and taken the team to five Super Bowls, winning three.
Under the hood
Replay wasn’t kind to the Jets in the first half, with three rulings going against the visitors. The biggest took away a first-quarter touchdown catch by Clyde Gates.
Geno Smith appeared to hit Gates with a 9-yard pass that just broke the goal line, with the receiver coming back toward the line of scrimmage and being covered closely by linebacker Jerod Mayo.
But referee Carl Cheffers reversed the call on the field of a touchdown, saying Gates did not maintain possession of the ball.
On the final play of the first quarter, the Jets challenged the ruling on the field that receiver Stephen Hill was stopped short of a first down on third and 2. The spot was upheld, forcing a punt.
When the Patriots took over on the ensuing possession, Edelman caught a pass from Brady and fumbled after being hit by Dee Milliner.
Once again, though, Cheffers’s call went in favor of the Patriots. He ruled that Edelman lost control before he took his second step, deciding it was an incomplete pass. The Patriots subsequently punted.
The fourth and final replay review of the first half finally went the Jets’ way.
Thompkins caught what would have been his first NFL touchdown pass, a 25-yarder from Brady with 19 seconds left.
The ruling on the field was a touchdown, but Cheffers overturned the call, ruling that Thompkins didn’t have full control of the ball when it made contact with the turf.
There were no second-half plays that required review.
Four days after not recording any sacks, the Patriots at least applied a little bit of heat to a rookie quarterback. Smith was sacked four times, but some of those had more to do with the coverage skills of the Patriots instead of up-front pressure. Chandler Jones was credited with two sacks, with Tommy Kelly getting one and Michael Buchanan the other. Rob Ninkovich also had a big game, with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble . . . One of the hardest-working men in the stadium was Patriots punter Ryan Allen, who was sent out 11 times. The number of punts (11) tied the franchise record, set four times previously, the most recent in 1992, by Shawn McCarthy. Allen averaged 46.7 yards per kick, and his 514 punting yards also tied the franchise record. Rich Camarillo also punted 11 times for 514 yards in a 1985 game against the Bears.
Edelman was another workhorse, catching a career-high 13 passes for 78 yards (his longest gain was just 10 yards). He also had a decent night returning punts, and because of it will keep the record for the NFL’s highest career punt-return average for another week. Edelman’s average on six punt returns Thursday was 12.0 yards, dropping his career average to 12.9. But that’s still No. 1 on the all-time list, just ahead of George McAfee (12.8) . . . With his 39-yard pass to Dobson, Brady extended his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 50. It’s the second-longest streak in NFL history, behind only Drew Brees (54) . . . With a first-quarter fumble recovery by Devin McCourty, the Patriots have forced at least one turnover in 29 straight games . . . The Patriots recognized survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings, with more than a dozen victims who lost limbs taking the field prior to the game. Robert and Jonathan Kraft met them on the Patriots’ sideline. A moment of silence for the three bombing victims who died preceded the national anthem . . . The Patriots honored their two most recent franchise Hall of Famers: Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos. Bruschi, a seven-time team captain and three-time Super Bowl winner, was feted at halftime. Santos, who was the “voice of the Patriots” for well over 30 years, served as honorary captain. Bruschi and Santos were inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame Aug. 29.