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Breece Hall, Jets defense has big day in 17-3 win over Patriots in Bill Belichick’s likely final game

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A season finale between the two bottom dwellers of the AFC East, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, could not have been scripted better — because it was simply two uninspired teams playing things out. 

Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals, Breece Hall rumbled in for a 50-yard touchdown inside the final two minutes of the game, and the Jets defense stifled the Patriots in a 17-3 victory, ending their playoff-less 2023 season with a 7-10 record while snapping a 15-game losing streak against the Patriots.

Gang Green’s defense limited Bailey Zappe and the New England offense to just 122 total yards on Sunday, providing an unceremonious 4-13 ending to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s historic run with the franchise, which featured a record six Super Bowl titles and an unprecedented dynasty in the NFL that haunted the Jets for more than two decades. It’s safe to assume that sending him off with a loss provided little consolation. 

In 24 years with the Patriots, Belichick won 266 regular-season games compared to the Jets’ 168.

Bill Belichick Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Hall rushed for a season-high 178 yards as the headlining playmaker of a Jets offense that will look considerably different next season. Quarterback Trevor Siemian completed 8-of-20 passes for 70 yards in the win as he once again was called in for Zach Wilson, who was still in concussion protocol and forced to miss the final three games of the season. 

While Aaron Rodgers is expected to return to the fold healthy after recovering from an ACL injury that ended his 2023 season after just four snaps, the Jets are likely to pursue a trade of Wilson this offseason. 

Zuerlein hit a pair of field goals in the first half to give the Jets a 6-3 lead going into the break — an advantage that should have been more if Gang Green had a competent offense. In the first half alone, New York held the Patriots to minus-7 total yards, which was their lowest in a first quarter since Dec. 1, 1991, in a game against the Denver Broncos. 

But in the snowy conditions and with Seimian under center, they relied heavily on the run. Breece Hall accounted for 76 yards on the ground on 17 carries in the opening 30 minutes of play to carry the offense, though drives stalled at the Patriots’ 2-yard line and 22 respectively to set up Zuerlein’s field goals. 

He missed a 49-yard attempt with 21 seconds left in the half, striking the left upright that curved opposite the wind through the snow.

Greg Zuerlein Jets
New York Jets place kicker Greg Zuerlein (9) hits a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A blasé second half didn’t see any points recorded until Zuerlein knocked home a 32-yard field goal to put the Jets up six with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter which, by the afternoon’s offensive showing, made it a two-possession game.

The Jets did lose wide receiver Garrett Wilson late in the third quarter after he took a late hit to the head by Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers, who attempted to pull up after an attempt fell incomplete down the left sideline, but his chest collided with Wilson’s head. The young pass catcher was down on the field momentarily before being escorted into the blue tent first, then the locker room.

It appeared as though the Jets iced it inside three minutes to go in the game when Ashtyn Davis intercepted a long ball by Zappe but after a return, he fumbled it back to the Patriots, which ultimately resulted in a 17-yard gain for the hosts. Just two players later, though, a quick slant by Zappe was deflected into the arms of Tony Adams just before the two-minute warning to put it away. 

Hall put the cherry on top of the Jets’ victory with a 50-yard score down the left sideline with 1:47 remaining in the game — a two-point conversion also converted by the back to put New York up 14.

For more on the Jets, visit AMNY.com

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