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New York Jets in a Must-win Game Versus New England Patriots in Week 10
Forget that New York knocked New England out of the playoffs last season, that it has advanced to two straight AFC Championship games and done so by winning four playoff games on the road. Those are admirable accomplishments, but still just accomplishments of the past. This is about the now.
Head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes) have proven themselves worthy adversaries of their Patriots counterparts, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady(notes), but after suffering a 30-21 loss to New England in Week 5, the Jets' chances of winning their division in 2011 will take a huge hit should they fall short this weekend.
The Jets, Patriots and Buffalo Bills (5-3) are tied atop the AFC East entering Week 10. New York bullied Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 9, limiting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) to 191 passing yards on 15 of 31 pass attempts—two of which were intercepted—en route to a 27-11 win. Sanchez overcame an early interception in the contest and completed 20 of 28 passes, including an 8-yard TD to receiver Santonio Holmes(notes) that gave New York a 20-3 lead in the third quarter.
New England, having lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, is looking for its first win this month. With 1 minute and 36 seconds left to play in last Sunday's Super Bowl XLII rematch, Brady, on fourth and 8, put the Patriots in front 19-17 (before the extra point) when he threw a 14-yard TD to tight end Rob Gronkowski(notes).
But just as the crowd at Gillette Stadium could taste victory, Patriots safety Sergio Brown(notes) was called for pass interference while covering receiver Victor Cruz(notes), allowing New York to advance to the goal line. On the ensuing third and goal, QB Eli Manning(notes) completed a game-winning, 1-yard TD to TE Jake Ballard(notes) with 15 seconds remaining.
Despite the Patriots' last-minute loss to the Giants, the Jets have more at stake in Week 10.
The specter of New England will persist until New York can become the preeminent power in a division that is still up for grabs. The Jets winning Sunday's game would be an important step toward such, but a defeat gives the Patriots a sweep in the season series.
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