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'Bitter rivals': 21st century history between the Patriots and Jets

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17th September, 2021

Bitter division rivals New England Patriots and New York Jets face off for the 125th time this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

It’s the first meeting in a new era between these teams. Both teams drafted rookies in the hope that they will become the team’s next franchise quarterback.

The Jets drafted Zach Wilson and will hope they can finally get it right at quarterback. The Patriots will hope that Mac Jones is the successor to Tom Brady.

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There’s a lot of recent history between the two teams that I will explain below.


Before taking over as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick was the assistant coach of the New York Jets. When Bill Parcells stepped down, the Jets’ owner picked Belichick to succeed him.

In an infamous introductory press conference, Bill Belichick wrote that he was resigning as the head coach of the New York Jets on a piece of paper and handed it to team officials. He quit, citing ownership uncertainty.

The Patriots and Belichick had mutual interest in each other but the Jets initially refused to let him go. A compromise was reached and Belichick was traded to the Patriots for draft picks.

In their Week 2 meeting during the 2001 season, Jets defender Mo Lewis knocked out Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, resulting in Tom Brady making his first appearance. The rest, as they say, is history.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Brady eventually played so well that he became the starter and Bledsoe had to sit on the bench after he recovered from his injury. The Patriots would go on to win their first Super Bowl that season and establish themselves as a dynasty.

The last time a number six seed beat a number one seed was back in the 2010 playoffs, when the Mark Sanchez-led Jets upset the heavily favoured Patriots in Foxboro.

In a famous post-game interview, Jets linebacker Bart Scott said that he can’t wait for the AFC championship game. To this day it’s the last playoff game that the Jets have won.


The Patriots got their revenge two years later by embarrassing the Jets on Thanksgiving. In what would become one of the most notorious plays in NFL history, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with the butt of his teammate, resulting in a fumble that the Patriots would recover and score during the second quarter of that game.

The New York Jets beat the New England Patriots at home on the Christmas weekend in 2015 in order to keep their hopes alive.

The Patriots won the overtime coin toss but elected to defer. That decision would prove costly as Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would march down the field and loft the ball over to Eric Decker for the game-winning touchdown.

The Jets, coming off an upset against the Cowboys, were expected to compete with the Patriots in their second match-up of 2019. However, the Patriots’ defence famously shut down the Jets’ offence, keeping them scoreless and destroying them 33-0.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was mic’d up as saying that he saw ghosts during the game in what was one of the most embarrassing moments in his career.


Tom Brady left the Patriots after the 2019 season but the Jets have yet to beat the post-Brady Patriots. Let’s see if that changes this Sunday.