FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton saved his best performance this season for what was likely his final game with the New England Patriots.
Newton threw three touchdown passes and caught another, and the Patriots rallied to beat the Jets 28-14 on Sunday in Adam Gase's final game as New York's coach.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for New England (7-9), which earned its 10th straight win over the Jets (2-14) but won't be playing in the post-season for the first time since the 2008 season.
Coach Bill Belichick said after a disappointing stretch he was proud of the way his team bounced back.
“It was good to end a disappointing season on a positive note,” he said.
While it won’t erase the disappointment of New England missing the playoffs, it was a nice finish for Newton, who entered the season with the weighty task of succeeding Tom Brady following his departure to Tampa Bay.
New England trailed 14-7 early in the third quarter, but outscored the Jets 21-0 the rest of the way. New York announced a few hours after the game it had fired Gase.
“While my sincere intentions are to have stability in our organization — especially in our leadership positions — it is clear the best decision for the Jets is to move in a different direction,” Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement issued by the team.
Newton was 21 of 30 for 242 yards, his first game with multiple passing touchdowns this season. He also ran 11 times for 79 yards. Newton played under a one-year deal this season. He said he hasn’t contemplated where he goes from here.
“I have my desires,” he said. “I know where my heart’s at. I know the things of who I am. But as far as that, I can’t really speak on that right now. But just my whole time in New England has just been a blessing. Just see how it goes and go from there.”
Belichick said he wasn’t prepared to address Newton’s future.
“I don’t really have anything to say about next year,” Belichick said.
Sam Darnold, whose future with the Jets is also uncertain, was 23 of 34 for 266 yards, a touchdown and two second-half interceptions. He said he wasn't thinking about his future beyond Sunday.
“I’m not going to do that right now,” Darnold said. “Whether I stay, whether I leave — whatever happens, I’ll deal with it when it comes.”
The Jets moved quickly on the first possession of the third quarter, taking their lead on Josh Adams’ 1-yard TD run. The score was set up by a 53-yard completion from Darnold to Breshad Perriman that got the ball inside the Patriots 15.
New England went to its bag of tricks to tie it back up.
With the ball on the Jets 19, Newton handed the ball off to Sony Michel, who flipped the ball back to receiver Jakobi Meyers on an end-around. But Meyers stopped in the backfield and tossed a pass to a wide-open Newton for the touchdown. It marked the second touchdown pass of the season for Meyers.
Darnold was intercepted by J.C. Jackson on the Jets' ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the Patriots on the Jets 45.
The Patriots took advantage, scoring four plays later on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Newton to tight end Devin Asiasi to make it 21-14 with 13:56 left in the game.
Two series later, Newton connected with Michel for a 31-yard score.
It was 7-7 at halftime as both offences had trouble sustaining drives. The exceptions came at the beginning and end of the half.
Newton made plays with both his arm and feet on the opening series of the game to put the Patriots in front.
First, he scampered for a 49-yard run to get New England down to the 15. Four plays later, he connected with James White on a 7-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 84-yard drive.
The Jets had their most success on their second to last possession of the first half when Darnold punctuated their 10-play, 80-yard drive by threading a pass between a pair of defenders in the end zone to Chris Herndon for a 21-yard touchdown.
Jets: WR Denzel Mims was evaluated for a concussion in the second quarter and didn’t return. … LT Mekhi Becton limped off the field with what Gase said was a high ankle sprain early in the third quarter. … RT George Fant left in the third quarter with a hand injury, but returned. … Jeff Smith left with a shoulder injury.
Patriots: S Adrian Phillips left in the first quarter with a hip injury and didn’t return. … WR Damiere Byrd was helped off the field in the third quarter with a head injury. … Butler exited with a thigh injury. … LT Justin Herron left with an ankle injury.
Newton’s 49-yard run on the Patriots’ opening drive was the longest by a quarterback in franchise history. Steve Grogan held the previous record, twice posting 41-yard runs.
With the run, Newton also passed Grogan for the single-season team record for yards rushing by a quarterback. Newton entered 26 yards behind Grogan, who had 539 yards rushing in 1978.
Jets: End of season. New York's 2-14 finish is the second-worst mark in franchise history. Now, they'll begin looking for a new coach.
Patriots: End of season.
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By Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press