The Patriots began the fourth quarter with Myles Bryant returning punts, replacing rookie Marcus Jones, who injured his ankle earlier in the contest.
One re-taped ankle later, Jones was back on the field — ready to make the biggest play of his young NFL career.
Locked in a 3-3 tie, the Patriots and Jets both looked to be playing for overtime. New York possessed the ball deep in their own territory with less than two minutes remaining in the ball game, and played things conservatively with short passes and run plays that gained them a total of seven yards. On fourth-and-3 with 26 seconds left, New England called a timeout to force New York to punt it away — giving the Patriots one last shot to win the game in regulation.
It turned out to be a good decision, as Braden Mann outkicked his coverage by a country mile and gave Jones enough daylight to make a memory that will last a lifetime.
The alternate angle is even better.
The 84-yard touchdown was the NFL’s first off a punt return in 2022, adding some more explanation into how improbable the play was.
With the 10-3 win, the Patriots move to 6-4, climbing ahead of the Jets into third place in the AFC East.