In strange fashion, the Patriots lost to the rival New York Jets after coming from behind to send the game to overtime.
It took two consecutive fourth-down conversions from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski for the Pats to tie the game in the fourth quarter. They held on to keep the score even, but a bizarre start to overtime preceded the team's downfall.
The Patriots won the coin toss, but they opted to kick first. Matthew Slater appeared to dispute a decision by the referee. According to Comcast SportsNet New England's Phil Perry, Slater says the Patriots did, indeed, intend to kick, and that his issue with the ref was that the team wanted to kick in the other direction.
If the receiving team in overtime should score a field goal, the ball would be returned to the kicking team. If the second team to take possession scores a field goal, however, it does end the game. Bill Belichick's decision followed a regulation period in which the Patriots' first offensive touchdown came after 58 minutes had passed - if they had stopped the Jets in overtime, the Patriots could have won it on Stephen Gostkowski's foot.
The Jets got the ball first and rammed it down the field. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw to Quincy Enuwa for 48 yards before hitting Eric Decker for the game-winning touchdown.
Before they tied it up with 1:55 left in regulation, the Patriots had trailed since the first half, during which they managed just three points. Brady threw 22-31 for 231 yards with a touchdown in the game, getting sacked twice and giving up a pick to former teammate Darrelle Revis.
Brady's sole touchdown, a pass to running back James White, followed the two fourth-down conversions to Gronk. It was the only touchdown the Patriots offense was able to muster - the rest of their points coming on a pair of field goals by Gostkowski and a score by linebacker Jamie Collins, who recovered a Jets fumble.
A win would have clinched the first seed for the Patriots, giving them home-field advantage through the playoffs. Now 12-3, they will look to beat the 5-10 Miami Dolphins next week with the same goal in mind. The Jets, meanwhile, control their own destiny and can earn a wildcard berth by beating their former head coach, Rex Ryan, and the Buffalo Bills next week.