EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New England Patriots made an unconventional decision to start overtime against the New York Jets, choosing to kick after winning the toss.
The Jets scored a touchdown on that opening drive to secure a 26-20 win at MetLife Stadium.
"Before the toss, Coach told us if we won the toss we wanted to kick off," Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said after the game. "Obviously as a player you ask three or four times to double check because you want to make sure you get it right. ... The only confusion was whether or not we got to choose which direction we got to kick the ball."
The Patriots had made a dramatic comeback to tie the game at 20, with quarterback Tom Brady connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski on two fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter -- and then came up with a defensive stop to force overtime.
At the start of overtime, the CBS broadcast picked up the following audio on the field between Slater and referee Clete Blakeman after the coin toss:
Blakeman: "Heads is the call."
Blakeman: "It is heads."
Blakeman: "You want to kick?"
Slater: "We want to kick, that way."
Slater: "Hey, we won. Don't we get to choose?"
Blakeman (mic off): "You elected to kick."
The Jets then went on to score on their first possession of overtime, stunning the Patriots, who fought valiantly despite being short-handed.
At the time, it was unclear whether the Patriots wanted to kick off, or were deciding which goal to defend at the start of overtime.
What it means: The Patriots fall to 12-3 and can still clinch home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs with a win at Miami next Sunday.
Ouch: Starting left tackle Sebastian Vollmer was carted off in the first quarter with a left leg injury and was ruled out immediately. Vollmer’s replacement, LaAdrian Waddle, remained down after suffering a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter; he walked off under his own power but did not return. ... Rookie cornerback Justin Coleman, the nickelback in the second half, walked to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a head injury (presumably a concussion) and did not return. ... The Patriots played without receivers Danny Amendola (left knee) and Julian Edelman (left foot), safeties Devin McCourty (ankle) and Patrick Chung (foot/hip), and linebacker Jonathan Freeny (right hand).
One reason for concern: For the second week in a row, tall receivers hurt the Patriots. On Dec. 20, the Patriots had some trouble with Dorial Green-Beckham (6-foot-5, 237), who finished with six catches for 113 yards. Against the Jets, it was Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230) doing the damage.
From the miscellaneous file: Brady had targeted Gronkowski 110 times this season without an interception before the two had a miscommunication in the third quarter and Brady was picked by Darrelle Revis up the left side. ... The Patriots scored a defensive touchdown, marking the first time they’ve scored defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games since Weeks 11 and 12 of the 2012 season. That Week 12 game in 2012 was the “Butt Fumble” game. ... Brady tied Brett Favre for the most touchdowns with one team (including playoffs), as he rung up No. 481 late in the fourth quarter.
Fantasy watch: The Patriots still had Brandon Bolden as their lead power back, as he played a team-high 25 snaps among running backs, while sub back James White was charted on the field for 24 snaps. Veteran Steven Jackson played nine snaps in his debut, while Joey Iosefa played three snaps as a fullback.
What's next: The Patriots visit the Miami Dolphins next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.