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Tom Brady: ‘I’m glad it came out the way that it did. It makes for a better Christmas’

12.21.14 at 7:00 pm ET
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Tom Brady didn't have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Tom Brady didn’t have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — Although it wasn’t as dramatic of a turnaround as last week’s second half against the Dolphins, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense did just enough in the second half to overcome a stingy Jets defense for a hard-earned, 17-16 win Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots entered the locker room trailing 10-7 and Brady was a pedestrian 11-for-15 passing with 79 yards and a touchdown, while Geno Smith was 11-for-16 with 117 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots had just seven first downs total in the first half, but were able to put together a few good drives in the second half — led by a more up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

“We got into a little rhythm there, Brady said. “I think it settled a few things down. We have to sustain it and get it in the red zone down there. We kind of came up short on that 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-2, whatever it was. We just have to finish those drives, especially key drives like that where you can finally get a little momentum, a little rhythm. It’s a good defense, they challenged us. We had long field all day, we had a couple good short fields that we took advantage of. The defense really stepped up when we need to.”

Brady finished the game 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was 12-for-20 with 103 yards with an interception in the second half.

Things weren’t going the Patriots’ way, as they trailed 13-7 in the third quarter, but after kicking a field goal, got a huge interception from Jamie Collins. Running back Jonas Gray ran it in from a yard out on the ensuing possession to give the Patriots a 17-13 lead. The Jets then kicked a field goal on their next possession making it a 17-16 game with 7:53 left in the game.

Following the field goal, Brady threw his first interception of the game — a tipped ball intended for Brandon LaFell — giving the Jets great field position at the Patriots’ 24-yard line. A huge Dont’a Hightower sack on third-down made it a 52-yard field goal attempt for Nick Folk, and fortunately Vince Wilfork was able to bail them out by partially blocking the attempt. The Patriots then were able to pick up a few first downs and run out the final 5:16 of time.

“We made plenty of good ones in the fourth quarter to come from behind. That was great,” said Brady. “Defensively, we played great again. I’m glad it came out the way that it did. It makes for a better Christmas. It’s always tough to get a win here, they’re a good team. They always play us hard. We got their best today.

“We obviously didn’t do a good job in the first three quarters. We found a little rhythm there in the second half and got some points on the board. [We] made some plays at the end. It’s about making the critical plays and we found a way to do it.”

Brady is now 48-7 (.872) in December, the best record in December among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts in the history of the NFL. The Patriots improved to 12-3 with the win and clinched a first-round bye in the process. They can lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win next week at home against the Bills, or with a Denver loss Monday night against the Bengals.

The quarterback isn’t looking ahead to the postseason and is solely focused on beating Buffalo next week.

“We have a big game coming up next week and we have to finish strong at home in the division,” Brady said. “It would be great to get to 5-1, especially after losing the first division game. To win five straight, that would be great.”

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