Patriots vs. Jets: Belichick understudy Mangini gets best of former boss

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Stephan Savoia, Associated Press
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the turf as the New York Jets celebrate after Brady was sacked on the last play of the game in Foxborough, Mass. The Jets defeated the Patriots, 17-14.
Click photo for larger image.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick exchanged another cold handshake with Eric Mangini in the middle of the muddy field yesterday.

The Patriots' coach certainly had no reason to embrace the protege who angered him by leaving for the New York Jets. After all, the Jets had just won, 17-14, on a rainy day, tightening the AFC East race that once loomed as a runaway for New England.

"I have a lot of great memories from here," Mangini said. "I'd like to add this to it."

Belichick has refused to refer to the Jets coach by name since Mangini left after serving five years as his defensive backs coach and last season as defensive coordinator, helping the Patriots win three Super Bowl titles. Their first midfield meeting after the Patriots won in New York this season wasn't a study in warmth either.

Then again, why should any of the Patriots be happy after their 57-game streak without consecutive losses ended? The record of 60 games was set by San Francisco from 1995-99.

Jets quarterback Chad Pennington also had a hand in the previous losing streak when he led New York to a 30-17 win in December 2002 -- one week after the Patriots lost to Tennessee.

"Two in a row. I can't remember the last time we did it," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We've got to get back on the winning road if we want to be AFC champions."

Preseason favorites to win their fourth consecutive division title, the Patriots (6-3) lead the Jets (5-4) by just one game.

"To lose today, you don't forget about the playoffs, but as far as the division race, it's would have been basically over," said Jets linebacker Matt Chatham, who spent the past six seasons with the Patriots. "We know that we've at least kept ourselves alive."

Relying on short gains and long drives, the Jets built enough of a lead to repel a late comeback and end a seven-game losing streak to the Patriots.

"We knew we had to have precise execution and, in the meantime, play a great defense," because of the muddy field and slippery ball, Pennington said.

Mangini clearly learned something from Belichick that his players picked up, from the pressure the Jets put on Tom Brady to their two takeaways.

"When you make plays against the pressure, it tends to ease it off a little bit," Brady said, "but we just didn't make enough plays."

Pennington did, despite the rain and mist that dictated that both teams rely on runs and short passes.

"The field was a mess," said Kevan Barlow, who scored on a 2-yard run for the Jets.

Pennington led two long scoring drives, one covering 16 plays that led to Barlow's touchdown and a 7-3 lead. The other was 15-play drive that was capped by Mike Nugent's 34-yard field goal and gave the Jets a 10-6 lead with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

The Jets made the score 17-6 on Pennington's 22-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery with 4:45 left after an interception by Erik Coleman.

The Patriots then drove 69 yards in 31 seconds to draw within 17-14 on Brady's 15-yard scoring pass to Reche Caldwell on a pass that was tipped by New York's Kerry Rhodes. Brady and Caldwell then combined on a two-point conversion.

After a punt, the Patriots took over at their 11 with 1:08 and no timeouts left. New England reached the Jets' 45 before Brady spiked the ball with 9 seconds left. But he was sacked by Shaun Ellis on the final play. Brady completed 25 of 37 passes for 255 yards.


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