FOXBORO — It may have taken a few more minutes than expected, and it may have been by a measly field goal, but New Englanders understand what happened just before midnight.
The New York Jets became a force last night. There is no other way to interpret their 34-31 overtime win.
We must also add this disclaimer: The Patriots are, even with Tom Brady and several of his Pro Bowl companions on the sideline, champions. And quarterback Matt Cassel? He deserves every single thing coming to him, + it wins or an $80-million contract.
But the Jets are No. 1 in the AFC East.
"To be honest, I won't tell you exactly what was said, but a few guys were real emotional," said Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins, an 8-year veteran and Jets "rookie." "This game obviously meant more than just a win around here. Trust me, I know how good these Patriots are. I was on a team that lost a Super Bowl to them."
We have seen similar celebrations after Patriot losses be it in Miami in October, Pittsburgh in January or Indianapolis whenever.
The 2008 Jets had to win on Nov. 13 in Foxboro and they did.
An AFC East lead in mid-November is worth its weight in gold. Beating the Patriots is, well, priceless.
"If we lose this game?" said Jets kicker Jay Feely, who booted the game-winning 34-yard field goal in OT. "I wouldn't want to think of what would have happened. We had to beat the Patriots (last night)."
Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the Patriots have been the Jets' daddy, beating them 10 of 11 times heading into last night.
In between, the Jets hired the Patriots' defensive "genius," Eric Mangini.
It didn't seem to matter.
They didn't quit, though. With the Patriots returning nearly everybody from their near-perfect team, the Jets accepted none of that.