Marcus Jones heads toward the end zone for the game’s only touchdown, to the elation of Patriots teammates and fans, as New England earned its 14th straight win over the New York Jets, 10-3. Steven Senne/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The NFL went 10 weeks and hundreds of kicks without a player returning a punt for a touchdown. Marcus Jones made the first of the season one to remember.

The New England rookie returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown with 5 seconds remaining, and the Patriots outlasted the stunned New York Jets 10-3 on Sunday.

Jones’ score was the lone TD of the game and broke a stalemate on a day when both offenses struggled.

With only 26 seconds showing on the clock when the Jets lined up to kick, Jones thought Braden Mann might punt it out of bounds. Once he got the ball in his hands and made a few players miss, everything changed.

“Then I seen the punter and I was like, ‘If I make him miss, I should be able to go the distance.’”

He was right.


It was the third straight win for the Patriots (6-4) and their 14th straight over New York. They also denied the Jets (6-4) a chance to move into first place in the AFC East this late in the season for the first time since 2010. Instead, New York dropped to last place.

“I’m in disbelief,” Jets cornerback D.J. Reed said. “It’s a tough loss.”

The Jets haven’t won in Foxborough since the 2010 playoffs, when they knocked out the Patriots in the divisional round.

The Patriots moved the ball well at times, with Mac Jones completing 23 of 27 passes for 246 yards. But they were only 4 of 15 on third down conversions and had only one field goal – with Nick Folk missing two attempts – despite getting inside the Jets 30 three times.

New York sacked Jones six times, but managed only 103 yards on offense. Zach Wilson was just 9 of 22 for 77 yards, and Braden Mann punted 10 times. In the second half, the Jets had just 2 yards on seven possessions.

Jets Coach Robert Saleh said he thought their defense was “outstanding.” He likened the offense’s second-half effort to dog feces. But he said it wasn’t only his quarterback’s fault.


“We couldn’t run the ball, either, so there’s a lot of things that we got to look at to see if we can find some efficiency in the offense,” Saleh said. “It just wasn’t good enough.”

Back-to-back plays involving Denzel Mims and Jonathan Jones kept the Jets alive late in the fourth.

First, Jones dived in front of Mims and dropped a near interception along the sideline. Then, Jones was called for defensive holding, negating what would have been a sack.

But New York couldn’t move the ball with its new set of downs and was forced to punt three plays later.

“Complete domination. That’s kind of what we wanted to do,” Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, Jr. said. “We wanted to stop the run and affect the pass. And I thought we did that.”

It was a rough kicking day overall for New England, with a usually dependable Folk bouncing a 44-yard attempt off the crossbar in the second quarter, and going wide left from 43 yards early in the third.


Field goals by both teams provided all the scoring until the winning punt return.

The Patriots drove to the Jets 6 before settling for a 24-yarder by Folk.

Wilson completed a 34-yard pass to Mims to set up the Jets at the Patriots 25. The drive stalled there, leading to a 45-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.

The Patriots had a chance to add more points late in the second quarter, driving the Jets 7. But a holding penalty on Yodny Cajuste and a sack pushed the ball back to the 26. The series ended with Folk’s miss from 44.


Kickoff was delayed 10 minutes by what was announced as “technical difficulties” to a groaning Gillette Stadium crowd. The game began with only a single camera angle on the CBS television broadcast, with limited replay capacity.


The issue was cleared up after the Jets’ first offensive series.


Patriots linebacker Matt Judon combined with Mack Wilson for a sack early in the third quarter and dropped Zach Wilson for a 9-yard loss on the first play of the fourth quarter to set a career high of 13 1/2 sacks this season.

Only one player in Patriots history has had more sacks in a season: Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, who had 18 1/2 in 1984 and 16 1/2 in 1985.


Jets: Linebacker Quincy Williams limped off with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He returned in the second quarter. … Cornerback Michael Carter II left because of a chest injury in the fourth quarter. … Cornerback Brandin Echols was able to walk off on his own power after being shaken up on a play in the fourth.

Patriots: Center David Andrews left late in the first quarter because of a thigh injury and didn’t return. He was replaced by James Ferentz. … Left tackle Isaiah Wynn also left in the first quarter and was ruled out because of a foot injury. He was replaced by Trent Brown.

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