Jets potentially end Bill Belichick era by beating Patriots


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It’s finally over.

Both the Jets’ 15-game losing streak to the Patriots and their dismal 2023 season came to an end Sunday afternoon in a 17-3 win over New England in game played through heavy snow.

The game may be memorable only because it is believed that it was Bill Belichick’s final game as Patriots coach. There has been rampant speculation that Belichick will be out as coach this week.

If this was indeed it for Belichick, it was a tough way for him to go out. The game felt like a JV game with two teams that were eliminated from playoff contention long ago squaring off with nothing on the line except poorer draft position for the winner.

As if the two teams were not bad enough on offense, the weather further hindered any production. The Patriots had minus-7 yards in the first quarter and the two teams traded punts nearly all game.

Jets running back Breece Hall pushes away Patriots safety Kyle Dugger during a run on Jan. 7, 2024. AP
Jets linebacker Bryce Huff sacks Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe on Jan. 7, 2024. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Jets got the win with another strong game by their defense, three Greg Zuerlein field goals and a 50-yard touchdown from Breece Hall to ice the game. The Jets leaned on Hall all day. He had a career-high 37 carries for 178 yards and broke the long touchdown with 1:47 left in the game. Hall finished the season just shy of 1,000 yards rushing, finishing the year with 994 yards in his return from ACL surgery. He had 1,585 yards from scrimmage.

The victory was not completely meaningless for the Jets. It was the first time the team has beaten the Patriots since 2015, snapping a 15-game losing streak to their AFC East foes. The Jets were tired of hearing about the losing streak every time they faced the Patriots and now that storyline is buried.

There was plenty of debate among fans before this game whether it would be better for the Jets to lose. The Patriots (4-13) may end up with the No. 2 pick in the draft thanks to this loss. That could enable them to draft a franchise quarterback who could torture the Jets for years to come.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on during a game against the Jets on Jan. 7, 2024. Getty Images
Patriots coach Bill Belichick (l.) talks to Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (r.) before the game on Jan. 7, 2024. Getty Images

The victory means the Jets end the season 7-10, the same record they had in 2022. A season that began with massive expectations due to the trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers ended up being a slog with Rodgers suffering a torn left Achilles four plays into the season.

The Jets never truly recovered from losing Rodgers. They had a three-game winning streak in October that gave false hope, but injuries along the offensive line mounted and the offense went into a slumber that led to a five-game losing streak and ended any hopes of making the playoffs.

The Jets did win three of their final five games of the season to end up with seven wins. The Jets started four different quarterbacks this season, the most they have since 1989. Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian all took turns trying to replace Rodgers. Wilson, the 2021 No. 2 overall pick, is expected to be traded or released this offseason, ending his forgettable three-year run with the Jets.

Members of the field crew blow snow off the yard lines during the Patriots-Jets game in Foxborough on Jan. 7, 2024. CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A view of a snowy Gillette Stadium as the Jets and Patriots play on Jan. 7, 2024. Getty Images

Owner Woody Johnson said on Christmas Eve that head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas would return for 2024, ending any speculation about their jobs.

Saleh and Douglas will enter the 2024 season with immense pressure to end the 13-year playoff drought. Rodgers has said he will be back next season. If the Jets can improve on the offensive line and add a No. 2 wide receiver to pair with Garrett Wilson, they should be a playoff contender.

The Jets defense had another strong year and ended the season with a dominant performance against Bailey Zappe and the Patriots, intercepting him twice in the fourth quarter.

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