FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots, who already lost three games this season by four points, were on the brink of another crushing loss Sunday.
This one was coming at the hands of the New York Jets.
Cue Tom Brady.
The future Hall of Famer, his team trailing 26-23 after a disastrous five late minutes of football, took the Patriots down the field and into field-goal position twice.
New England escaped with a 29-26 overtime victory over their AFC East rivals.
Stephen Gostkowski, who missed a 42-yard field goal that allowed the Arizona Cardinals to escape with a 20-18 victory Sept. 16, tied the game with a 43-yarder on the final play of regulation Sunday. Then, he kicked a 48-yarder 3:58 into overtime to give the Pats the lead.
Under the new overtime rules, the New England defense had to come up with a stop, and did, as the Patriots improved to 4-3 and recaptured first place in the AFC East.
The game ended when Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich combined to sack Mark Sanchez. Ninkovich knocked the ball from Sanchez's hand and recovered the fumble. The play was reviewed and upheld.
It was the 35th time in his career Brady was able to win when his team was tied or behind in the fourth quarter.
"It's nice to pull out a close one," Brady said. "It comes down to a few plays. We had opportunities last week (at Seattle, a 24-23 loss), we had opportunities against Baltimore (a 31-30 loss), we had opportunities against the Cardinals. When you make the plays, you win the games.
"We're 4-3. We're in a decent position. We have the whole season ahead of us. We've been fighting injuries, like every team has. We play a very important game this weekend (against the St. Louis Rams in London) and then we get a bye, which will be good for this team.
"It's nice to pull out a close one."
The Jets (3-4) rallied for 13 late points, tying the game on a Sanchez touchdown pass to Dustin Keller (seven catches) and 43-yard field goal by Nick Folk. They then converted a Devin McCourty fumble into the go-ahead field goal with 1:42 left.
"We have to give New England credit. We made too many mistakes, but we had our opportunities," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, now 3-5 against the Patriots, counting the playoffs. "We were strong and kept fighting."
McCourty, who ran a kickoff back 104 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, fumbled the kickoff away and it was recovered by the Jets at the New England 15 with 2:01 left. New York settled for Folk's second 43-yard field goal in a 29-seconds span, his third and fourth of the day (one a 54-yarder).
"My teammates saved my life today," McCourty said. "A bad mistake in the fourth quarter. I just have to do a better job of holding onto the ball."
Brady (26 for 42 for 259 yards) hit tight end Rob Gronkowski (six catches, two drops) with two touchdown passes and the Pats had their first safety in 102 games.
Down 23-13, Sanchez (28 for 41 for 328 yards, a touchdown and an interception before the game-ending fumble) took the Jets 92 yards on a 7-minute, fourth-quarter drive to cut the New England lead to three. He then brought his team down again, New York settling for Folk's third field, also a 43-yarder. That came after Stephen Hill dropped a pass at the New England 14.
Tim Tebow, playing only a handful of plays, ran for 12 yards on four carries and didn't throw a pass.
Shonn Greene ran for 54 yards with a touchdown and caught five passes for the Jets. But he also fumbled twice, one leading to the Patriots' safety. He left late with a head injury after he ran into Brandon Spikes, but returned.
The safety came when Greene fumbled a handoff into the end zone and Sanchez kicked it out of the end zone rather fall on it.
Notes: McCourty's 104-yard kickoff return was the second-longest in team history. Ellis Hobbs had a 108-yarder, also against the Jets, in 2007. ... The Patriots had 381 offensive yards, their 16th straight game with at least 350, tying the NFL record. ... It was Gronkowski's NFL-leading 10th multi-TD game since 2010. ... Jeremy Kerley also had seven catches for the Jets. ... The Patriots lead the all-time series 54-52-1, 29-25-1 at home. ... Brady has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 39 straight regular season games, the third-longest such streak in NFL history. ... New England guard Dan Connolly left the game in the first quarter due to illness, leaving the Patriots without both starting guards (Logan Mankins was out with an injury). Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland left with a hand injury. ... New England's Wes Welker (six catches, one drop) caught a pass in his 101st consecutive game. ... The Jets talked to the NFL about trying to slow down the Patriots' hurry-up offense. Ryan told ESPN Saturday night, "Sometimes when they substitute, you're supposed to be allowed to substitute with them. We'll see about that, but they move at such a quick pace that you have to be alert, and if you have to sub, you have to make your substitution extremely quick." ... The Patriots wore their red "Boston" Patriots throwback uniforms. ... The Jets host the Miami Dolphins next week.