FOXBOROUGH — Julian Edelman was forced out of the Patriots’ 30-14 win over the Jets Sunday afternoon when the receiver was crunched after a catch late in the first half.
Edelman turned up field on a 3-yard catch and was taken down by cornerback Brian Poole but lineman Henry Anderson also landed on him.
According to an NFL Media report, Edelman suffered a rib injury, but X-rays came back negative. Despite missing the second half, Edelman still led the club with seven receptions.
In Edelman’s absence, rookie Jakobi Meyers played the second half and acquitted himself nicely. Meyers said the coaching staff prepares him as though he’s going to play a lot every week.
“We need to know that the ball won’t stop regardless. Whoever goes down we need to have somebody to pick it up and keep going like no one ever left,’’ said the rookie. “It makes us feel real good about our team, and hopefully, I can keep doing my part when my numbers called. Even before then, during the week of practice I was like, ‘Be ready just in case.’ You never know what is going to happen. The game of football is a dangerous game, people get injured every day. One hundred percent injury rate, I was just making sure I was ready just in case.”
The Patriots also lost Dont’a Hightower to a shoulder injury and Adam Butler to foot injury. There was no sign of Hightower after the game but Butler had an ice wrap on his foot.
Rough debut for Jarrett Stidham as the rookie’s first regular-season series as a pro ended when Jets safety Jamal Adams returned an interception for a touchdown.
Stidham hit on his first two passes but then sailed one over Brandon Bolden’s head that Adams devoured.
“I was obviously very, very thankful to get a few snaps,’’ said Stidham. “I wish it would have gone a little bit better. I just have to make a better throw.’’
Stidham acknowledged he was surprised he got the nod.
“I wasn’t really expecting it at the time. I was ready for it, but they just said get in so that’s what I did,’’ he said. “It’s obviously not how you want to start things but I just need to trust in my ability to get the ball to the receivers the right way.’’
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s struggles continued when he missed another extra point following the Patriots’ opening touchdown. The miss came a week after Gostkowski missed two extra points and a 48-yard field goal in Miami. Gostkowski also missed several makeable kicks in the preseason.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating,” Gostkowski said. “Kicking is a weird thing. To me, when it’s going good, it’s the easiest job out there. And then when it’s not it’s one of the toughest. I’m just trying to get to where I can make it easy again.”
After missing the extra point wide right, Gostkowski moved his kicking spot from the middle of the field to the left hash marks, a move he has made in the past. Gostkowski hit his final three extra points of the day, plus a 37-yard field goal.
“I’m not going to keep doing the same thing over and over,” Gostkowski said. “Obviously, I’ve hit a little bit of a skid here. It can be frustrating at times, but I’m just glad that I’m on a team that we’re winning and it’s not really hurting anybody.”
He’s a member
How’s this for membership in the circle of trust?
Facing third and 22 from the Jets’ 32-yard line with 4:19 left in the third quarter, and fresh off a rare intentional grounding penalty that had him complaining to officials, Tom Brady went to the one target he knew would help him out: Josh Gordon.
Brady converted a tough first down with a 28-yard pass to the 6-foot-3-inch Gordon deep down the left sideline. Gordon jumped over Jets defender Darryl Roberts and made an overhead, two-handed catch — the ring finger of his left hand taped to his pinkie finger — and retrieved the ball before touching down just inside the sideline at the Jets 4.
Three plays later, Rex Burkhead made it count with a 2-yard touchdown plunge, capping the Patriots’ scoring for the day.
“Josh made a huge play,” Brady said, well aware Gordon had left the field on the team’s previous possession.
“He made a bunch all day,” Brady said. “He went wire to wire — he’s going to be pretty tired tomorrow. I’m proud of him, what he accomplished today. That was a huge play in the game.”
It wasn’t the only one Gordon made — he led the Patriots with 83 receiving yards, his six catches second only to Edelman (7) and his 11 targets tops among a team that not only lost Edelman to injury at halftime, but cut ties with Antonio Brown on Friday. That leaves Gordon, the man who has battled substance abuse issues and served many long NFL suspensions, as one of the team’s primary weapons. He seems to be handling the load, not only physically, but mentally, too.
“We call that ‘War Daddy Deluxe,’ because he was out there, taking hits, I don’t know what he did to his finger but I’m assuming it wasn’t good. He showed a lot of toughness today,” Matthew Slater said. “You can’t help but smile when you see him out there, running around the field, doing what he loves to do. We’re really happy for him.”
Said Gordon: “Some games are more painful than others . . . I’m just really glad [Tom] still has faith in me throughout the course of a game.”
A Slater specialty
Maybe the Jets never had a chance, but if there was one small moment of worry, it came midway through the fourth quarter, when Adams’s pick-six against Stidham gave the Jets their second touchdown of the second half.
“They had made a few plays,” veteran Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty said after watching his own team’s offense sputter to another three-and-out, “and they were probably getting ready to go two-minute offense.”
They probably were. Until Slater got in their way.
Sprinting downfield after rookie punter Jake Bailey unleashed a kick that appeared destined for a touchback, Slater swatted the ball out of the air and just back into the field of play, where teammate Jonathan Jones downed it at the 1-yard line.
“Takes them right out of their two-minute offense, because now you got to get the ball off your goal line,” McCourty said. “When you make a play like that it’s huge. It swings momentum back our way. That’s why you saw guys on the defense, when we were going on the field, all hyped up. I said to him once we got off the field, ‘man that was a huge play.’ ”
Slater, 34, is in his 12th season, as respected and revered a teammate as there is in the Patriots locker room. His continued contributions on special teams are a result not simply of effort, but preparation.
“We practice that a lot. Jake and I have started working that a lot more,” he said.
Said coach Bill Belichick: “That was a really tough play because you have to respect the returner. You don’t want to run past him and let him catch the ball and return it, so Matt did a great job of recognizing that the ball was going to go over Braxton [Berrios’s] head and then was able to find it and make the play and keep it inbounds.”
“It’s tough to catch those as punts. It’s even harder to run from the line of scrimmage and turn around and handle them or keep it out of the end zone. Matt’s probably the best in the game at that.”
Phillip Dorsett saw his consecutive catch streak end at 26 but if you ask him, it shouldn’t have.
Dorsett had caught 26 straight passes thrown his way until Brady targeted him on third and 8 early in the third quarter. Dorsett dived to try to make the catch and was cradling the ball on his forearms as he hit the ground. It was ruled an incompletion, but Dorsett was sure he caught the ball.
“I knew I had the first down and I knew I caught it,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
Belichick challenged the call but it stood upon review and the streak, which dated to Week 5 of last season, was over. According to NFL Research, it was the second-longest streak by a receiver in the last 10 seasons.
Dorsett said he only knew about the streak because media members would ask him about it. He said he cared more about challenging the play because it happened on third down and he was certain he’d moved the chains.
Dorsett caught 6-of-7 passes thrown his way for 53 yards and a touchdown. The scoring play came when the Jets bit harder on a play-action fake than Mrs. Pacman in a Dippin’ Dots and allowed Dorsett to run wide open across the middle of the field where he caught the pass from Brady and took it to the end zone.
“What do you want me to say? I just ran the route and caught the ball,” Dorsett said.
Honoring the Law
Ty Law, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, was presented with his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony.
“This is the icing on the cake,’’ said Law, who told the crowd “this ring’s for you” and then predicted the Patriots would soon be raising banners seven and eight.
Law is the fifth player in franchise history to reach the Hall, joining John Hannah, Mike Haynes, Andre Tippett, and Nick Buoniconti.
Tom Brady has 524 touchdown passes, moving him into solo second on the NFL’s all-time list. Only Peyton Manning (539) has more . . . New England stretched its home winning streak to 15 games . . . James White led the list of inactive Patriots as the running back and his wife welcomed the birth of their son. It was the second time this season a player didn’t suit because of a new addition to the family, as linebacker Kyle Van Noy was not at the opener against the Steelers to be with his wife . . . With White and fullback James Develin (neck) out, rookie Damien Harris and fullback Jakob Johnson made their NFL debuts. Johnson was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. Tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) and tackles Korey Cunningham and Caleb Benenoch were the other offensive inactives. On defense, linebacker Shilique Calhoun, who missed practice all week for non-injury reason, was a scratch. He was at the game, however. Special teamer Nate Ebner, who was added to the injury report on Saturday with a groin problem, rounded out the inactives. Ebner went through an extensive pregame workout with strength coach Moses Cabrera.