- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It became a recurring theme on Sunday.
"Pretty much on third down I see myself as the guy to try to go to," Kerley said. "So I make it a big emphasis on my game to make sure third down I turn it up a notch."
Kerley caught a career-high eight passes for 97 yards and one touchdown in the Jets' 30-27 overtime win against the New England Patriots on Sunday, including six balls on third down. Kerley, who did not play in the first meeting against the Patriots, had his best game of the season against the Jets' bitter rival.
"Definitely I had a chip on my shoulder," Kerley said. "There were a couple of guys I wanted to get after and I'm glad that I could today."
The Jets scored on their opening drive for just the second time this season, and it can be largely attributed to Kerley. The Jets faced three third downs that drive, and Kerley was able to get past the marker to keep the drive alive each time. Each catch went for more than 10 yards.
On the third conversion of the opening drive, Kerley found his way into the end zone for a 12-yard score to give the Jets a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. He finished the first drive with three catches for 36 yards.
"Jeremy was just finding ways to get open," Jets quarterback Geno Smith said. "That's something that he has a knack for. I believe he's a really good slot (receiver) and he always finds way to get open. He makes yards after the catch and he's one of those guys that you can depend on."
The Jets also received a nice game from recently signed David Nelson, who hauled in four catches for 80 yards, which trailed only Kerley in both categories. He made a nice play in the third quarter to haul in a ball down the field with a defensive back hauled all over him. The 80 yards are the third most in his career.
"David did a great job," Smith said. "First of all, he's a tremendous blocker. I don't think he gets enough credit for that. He did a great job of getting open and finding space today. He was running hard. He made some tough catches in some crucial situations. David helped us out, just as every single man did, and I'm just proud to see that his efforts have paid off."
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini