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Patriots force late Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble, edge Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets walks

Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets walks off the field after a loss against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

From the “Butt Tumble” to the “Fitz Fumble.”

The win was there for the taking Sunday at MetLife Stadium, and the stage was set for Ryan Fitzpatrick to deliver some late-game heroics. But in typical fashion, the Jets couldn’t get out of their own way — and Fitzpatrick came up small at another critical moment in a stadium filled with New England fans chanting “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!”

After a dramatic come-from-behind score by the Patriots, the Jets had 1:56 to work with. But on second-and-5 at the Jets’ 30, Fitzpatrick was stripped from behind by Chris Long as he attempted to throw. The Patriots recovered the fumble and escaped with a 22-17 victory.

“It’s the story of the year,” Jets receiver Brandon Marshall said of their late-game collapses.

The Patriots improved to 9-2, and Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning as the winningest quarterback with 200 regular-season victories.

The Jets’ collapse continued as they dropped to 3-8.

Receiver Quincy Enunwa (single-game career-high 109 receiving yards) gave the Jets new life when he made a leaping catch in the back right corner of the end zone with 10:17 left. He fell backward as he landed in bounds on his right buttock. The initial ruling was an incomplete pass, but after a review, the 22-yard “Butt Tumble” was ruled a touchdown and the Jets took a 17-13 lead.

The Jets and Patriots never disappoint during the Thanksgiving holiday, as was the case four years ago with “The Butt Fumble” on Thursday Night Football. But as was the case that night in 2012, New England proved to be the far better team.

The Patriots were walking wounded with Brady hampered by a sore and swollen knee, Rob Gronkowski forced to leave late in the first quarter with a back injury and a banged-up Martellus Bennett not himself.

The Jets had a chance to kill some clock late in the game, but instead they ran only four plays in 1:58, Fitzpatrick was flagged for intentional grounding and Bilal Powell dropped a pass on third-and-11.

That gave New England 5:04 to steal the win. And that was more than enough time for Brady to do what he usually does: deliver the proverbial dagger against his division rival.

A short pass to Julian Edelman turned into a 24-yard gain and was followed by completions of 16 yards (Dion Lewis) and 25 yards (Chris Hogan). That set up an easy 8-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell against Darrelle Revis, who made no attempt to obstruct the receiver’s clear path to the end zone.

The Patriots’ two-point conversion attempt (a pass to James White) was reversed by officials after replays showed White had the ball in his left hand and didn’t extend it over the goal line, but the failed two-pointer mattered little in the end.

The Jets were more than willing to thwart their own efforts and undo what could have been a dramatic, momentum-shifting win in an otherwise dismal season.

“You definitely don’t want to put Tom in those situations,” said Revis, who was picked on late in the game.

The Jets were left to lament their missed opportunities and mental mistakes. First came Robby Anderson’s crucial fumble in the second quarter. After the rookie receiver made a 25-yard catch, Malcolm Butler poked the ball and recovered it. Brady responded with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell with Revis in coverage to tie it at 10.

Then there was Muhammad Wilkerson’s fourth-and-1 offside penalty and, of course, Fitzpatrick’s fumble.

“Playing against the Patriots, you don’t have to play the perfect game,” said Fitzpatrick, who refused to say whether he thinks he deserves to start next week against the Colts on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. “But you can’t make mistakes.”

Close calls

The Jets-Patriots rivalry has produce some exciting games of late, with the last seven being decided by seven or fewer points.

YesterdayPatriots 22, Jets 17

Dec. 27, 2015 Jets 26, Patriots 20 (OT)

Oct. 25, 2015 Patriots 30, Jets 23

Dec. 21, 2014 Patriots 17, Jets 16

Oct. 16, 2014 Patriots 27, Jets 25

Oct. 20, 2013 Jets 30, Patriots 27 (OT)

Sept. 12, 2013 Patriots 13, Jets 10

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