FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady connected with rookie Aaron Dobson on a 39-yard touchdown pass and Devin McCourty set up another score with a 44-yard fumble return Thursday night to help the New England Patriots open a 13-3 halftime lead over the New York Jets.
With longtime favorite receiver Wes Welker now in Denver and his replacement, Danny Amendola, out with a groin injury, Brady found Dobson alone in the defensive backfield and hit him in stride on the way to the end zone. It was Brady's 50th consecutive game with a touchdown pass, four short of Drew Brees' NFL record.
It was the first career catch for Dobson, a second-round draft pick who did not play in Week 1 because of a hamstring injury.
The teams traded three-and-outs, and on New York's next possession Geno Smith found Stephen Hill deep across the middle for a 33-yard gain. But as cornerback Aqib Talib was bringing Hill down, the receiver fumbled and McCourty scooped it up and took it all the way to the Jets' 3-yard-line.
Stephen Gostkowski's field goal made it 10-0.
Smith led the Jets into field goal position, thanks largely to a 27-yard completion to Santonio Holmes that picked up another 15 yards because defensive lineman Chandler Jones hit Smith in the head as he threw. The Jets were given a 9-yard touchdown on a pass from Smith to Clyde Gates, but replays showed the ball popped out as he went to the turf.
Instead, they settled for Nick Folk's 37-yard field goal.
At the half, Brady was 11 for 24 for 136 yards, finding Julian Edelman seven times for 42 yards. Smith, who started for the second straight game while Mark Sanchez decides whether to have shoulder surgery, completed seven of 16 passes for 94 yards.
In the second quarter, Brady found rookie Kenbrell Thompkins for a 38-yard completion that helped set up Gostkowski's 30-yard field goal that made it 13-3. Gostkowski missed a 43-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half after an apparent 25-yard touchdown pass to Thompkins was overruled on replay.
Both teams won their openers on last-second field goals.
In their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings, the Patriots held a pregame ceremony to honor several of those injured by the explosions.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org