Jets snap 15-game skid vs Patriots with 17-3 win in Belichick’s possible finale as New England coach
Bill Belichick says he put everything he had into this season and still enjoys coaching.
But following the end to his most tenuous season as an NFL coach, it remained very much unclear whether he'll ever do it again for the New England Patriots.
Breece Hall rushed for 174 yards and a late touchdown and the New York Jets snapped a 15-game losing streak against the Patriots with a 17-3 win Sunday in what could have been Belichick's final game with the franchise for which he hoisted six Lombardi trophies.
“A disappointing year for all of us — players, coaches, staffers, the entire organization," Belichick said through a scratchy voice after fighting a cold this week. “As far as the future goes, I’ll sit down with (Patriots owner) Robert (Kraft) as I do every year at some point. ...
"That’s all I have to say about that right now, because that’s all there is to talk about.”
With snow covering the field and flurries swirling throughout Gillette Stadium, Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals to help the Jets (7-10) earn their first victory over the Patriots since an overtime win on Dec. 27, 2015. It marked the Jets’ first win in New England since the 2010 AFC divisional playoff round.
The Patriots’ 4-13 record is the worst in Belichick’s 29-year NFL coaching career. Sunday’s loss also marked the 178th of Belichick’s career, including the playoffs, tying him with Tom Landry for the most ever. It also ties the record of 165 regular-season losses held by Jeff Fisher and Dan Reeves.
New England now shifts to its most uncertain offseason of the past two-plus decades, with Belichick’s future with the team in the spotlight after a 24-year tenure during which the Patriots won six Super Bowl titles.
But he insisted it hasn't taken away his desire to be on the sideline.
“No, I enjoy coaching. Disappointing season. ... That’s how I feel," Belichick said. "The results weren’t good. None of us were happy with those.”
Belichick and Kraft are expected to meet as soon as Monday to discuss the coach's future with the franchise.
“Moving forward, it’s a whole other conversation about everything," Belichick said.
Kraft will have to decide whether to part ways with Belichick, only the third coach who has worked for him since purchasing the team in 1994. With 333 victories, Belichick is currently 14 wins shy of equaling Hall of Fame coach Don Shula’s record of 347, including the playoffs.
Though it will be remembered by the Jets as the game that ended their losing streak, coach Robert Saleh said it's worth savoring any victory over Belichick.
“He’s been around for a very long time. I’ll give him credit. If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t popping, and he’s been popping for a very, very long time," Saleh said. "So whenever you can get a win on him, it’s always special.”
The Jets led 9-3 when they went for it on fourth-and-1 at New England’s 37 with less than four minutes left, but Hall was stopped short and New York turned it over on downs.
But on New England’s ensuing play Bailey Zappe was sacked for a 16-yard loss and then intercepted on the next play by Ashtyn Davis. But Davis was stripped of the ball by Mike Gesicki and Vederian Lowe recovered for the Patriots.
New England’s momentum didn’t last, with Zappe intercepted two plays later by Tony Adams. Two plays later, Hall sealed it with a 50-yard TD run and 2-point conversion run.
The weather affected both offenses, particularly in the passing game.
In what has been a microcosm of the entire season, New England struggled to sustain drives and managed a season-low 120 yards. Zappe completed 12 of 30 passes for 88 yards and two interceptions.
With injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers looking on from the sideline, Trevor Siemian made his third consecutive start in his place of Zach Wilson, who remained out with a concussion.
Siemian finished 8 of 20 for 70 yards.
Whatever happens, Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said he will remember Belichick's demeanor never changing this season — no matter the results.
“I saw no quit in Bill Belichick this season,” Slater said. “He didn't turn it down. He didn't shut it down.”
Jets: S Jordan Whitehead left in the second half with a calf injury. ... C Joe Tippmann limped off in the third quarter with an ankle injury. ... WR Garrett Wilson was evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter.
Patriots: Lowe left in the fourth quarter with a head injury after recovering Davis' fumble.
Patriots players wore pregame sweatshirts with the name and number of Slater, who will again contemplate retirement after 16 NFL seasons.
“It meant a lot,” Slater said. “I was blown away by it.”
A three-time Super Bowl champion with New England and 10-time Pro Bowl selection, Slater was a fifth-round draft pick by New England in 2008 and is the son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater.
The longest-tenured Patriots player, Slater has grown into a locker room leader and embodiment of Belichick’s team-first “Patriot Way” culture. Along the way, Slater has been voted the special team captain 13 times. He played his 263rd game Sunday, second in team history behind only Tom Brady’s 326.
He said earlier in the week that he would wait until after the season to make a final decision on his future.
The wintry conditions made for a sparely attended finale Sunday, though the crowd included former Raiders coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and 2015 Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and three-game Super champion James White.
White rang the lighthouse bell above the stadium before kickoff.