FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady knows it will take a while to get in sync with his rookie receivers. Meanwhile, he keeps winning.
The 14-year veteran threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to one of those newcomers, hitting a wide-open Aaron Dobson on the game’s first series before both offenses played as sloppily as the second-half weather, and the New England Patriots got by the New York Jets 13-10 on Thursday night.
Thirteen of Brady’s 19 completions went to veteran Julian Edelman, who knew the offense better than the three rookie wide receivers.
“It’s unrealistic for them to feel like they can do it like 10-year veterans. That’s not what they are,” Brady said, “but they’re trying hard and they work real hard and they have a lot of skill.”
That applies to another rookie, Jets quarterback Geno Smith. But he completed just 15 of 35 passes for 214 yards with three fourth-quarter interceptions and was sacked four times.
“Geno had his (good) moments,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I don’t know how many balls we dropped today, but it was a bunch.”
The Patriots (2-0) punted 11 times and managed just nine first downs after leading the NFL in points and yards last season. Only two of their 16 possessions gained more than 22 yards, and 81 of their 232 yards – more than a third – came on their opening series.
“We have a long way to go,” said Brady, who completed 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. “No one is coming to (our) rescue and save the day, so we’ve just got to fight through it.”
The Jets (1-1) cut the lead to 13-10 on Bilal Powell’s 3-yard touchdown run with 5:05 left in the third quarter. But Smith threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter, two to Aqib Talib and one to Alfonzo Dennard. Talib’s second with 38 seconds left sealed the victory.
“During that time in the game, you’ve got to be more mindful of the situation,” Smith said. “With the costly mistakes, that was completely on me.”
After Talib’s last interception, players from both sides scuffled and two Jets, Willie Colon and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, were ejected.
“I lost my temper. I lost my cool out there and we can’t have it,” Colon said. “I know better so it is my fault.”
With wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Shane Vereen all sidelined, Brady was without three of his top offensive players. He was left with just two tight ends and four wide receivers.
In the second half, the teams had to deal with a torrential downpour that started at intermission.
On the 17 possessions in the first half, there were 11 punts, a lost fumble, one missed field goal, three field goals and a touchdown.
The officials didn’t have a very good half, either, with one touchdown by each team and a lost fumble by Edelman being overturned by video review.
The only touchdown of the half came on the first series when Brady hit Dobson down the right side. It was the first reception for the second-round draft choice, who missed the opening 23-21 win over the Buffalo Bills with a hamstring injury.
“We were being pretty aggressive there in a short-yardage situation and (Dobson) slid behind him and I just gave it to him. He did all the work,” Brady said. “I’m glad we got on the board early and got a lead. Playing ahead is always important, especially when you get (bad) weather conditions.”
Dobson said he and Brady practiced the play in this week’s walkthroughs.
“It worked out to perfection,” Dobson said. “I was wide open and I capitalized on the play.”
It marked the 50th straight game in which Brady has thrown a touchdown pass. Drew Brees, whose streak has ended, holds the NFL record of 54.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 21-yard field goal made it 10-0 before Nick Folk kicked a 37-yarder for the Jets after Smith’s 9-yard pass to Clyde Gates, originally ruled a touchdown, was changed to an incompletion after the replay. Gostkowski added a 30-yarder with 5:05 left in the half, but the Patriots didn’t score again.
“Over the years our offense has bailed us out so many times,” Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “If the score is 43-42 or 3-0, we’ll take it, especially against a division opponent like the Jets.”