Tom Brady was less than perfect for much of the game against the Jets Sunday, but he gave the Patriots a lead in the fourth with a pinpoint pass to Danny Amendola, with the team going on to a 30-23 victory.
The quarterback and wide receiver were more in-tune than ever in that final quarter. For a touchdown, Brady threaded the needle as Amendola dove like Neo in the Matrix, making a spectacular catch through heavy coverage and tumbling into the end zone to give the Pats a 23-20 lead.
Inside the two-minute warning, Brady got insurance, hitting a wide-open Rob Gronkowski, who made 11 catches for 108 yards, for another touchdown.
The Patriots owe some of the victory to the Jets' mismanagement of the clock in the fourth. After Gronk's grab put them behind by 10, they passed incrementally down the field, culminating in a 55-yard Nick Folk field goal. After a successful onside kick that could have brought the teams to overtime, though, they went down easy as the clock dwindled.
At the end of the game, Brady had thrown for 355 yards and two touchdowns on 34/54 passing, having run another touchdown in himself.
Brady didn't just lead the Patriots ground game in touchdowns - he had more carries (four) and more rushing yards (15) than anyone else on the team. With Dion Lewis, who has been a phenomenal, dynamic running back for the Pats this season, out with an amdominal injury, the ground game was a complete non-factor. James White had four yards on two carries while LeGarrette Blount lost three yards on three carries.
The good news is the Patriots kept New York off the ground, as well. Chris Ivory had 41 yards on 17 carries, while quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Zac Stacey combined for another 48.
Owner Robert Kraft said he had "absolutely no hard feelings" toward former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, who returned to the Jets in the offseason. He made four tackles, but he did help limit Julian Edelman to five catches for 54 yards.
While the win was huge, keeping New England on top of the standings, it highlighted some of the still-undefeated Patriots' cracks. A withering offensive line got Brady sacked three more times. The secondary allowed Fitzpatrick to throw for 295 yards.
Most disturbing, though, was the play of wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who made his long-awaited return from the PUP list. Brady threw to LaFell eight times. He made two catches. He dropped the other six.
"I don't think any of this felt great about the way we performed today." Bill Belichick said after the game. "Could have done a better job."