Steve Grogan scored on a three-yard bootleg with 3:27 left, seven minutes after throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Irving Fryar, to lift the New England Patriots to a 20-13 NFL victory over the New York Jets today.
Grogan, making his first start in 19 games, faked a handoff to Tony Collins, who ran to the right. As the defense swarmed that way, the quarterback ran untouched around the left side to cap a 65-yard drive.
His 30th career rushing touchdown improved the Patriots' record to 4-3. The Jets, who played without NFL rushing leader Freeman McNeil, had a five-game winning streak stopped and fell to 5-2.
A Jets' spokesman said McNeil didn't play because he had a "battered body" after running 134 times, second-most in the league, in his first six games.
The Jets had tied the game on a two-yard run by Tony Paige with 6:50 left. It came after Ken O'Brien made completions of 14 yards to Mickey Shuler and 49 yards to Wesley Walker, who was tackled at the New England two-yard line.
That erased a 13-6 lead the Patriots had taken less than four minutes earlier when Grogan, playing because Tony Eason suffered a separated left shoulder a week ago, hit Fryar behind defensive back Donnie Elder for the touchdown with 10:22 remaining.
The three touchdowns in less than seven minutes changed the tone of a defensive struggle.
New England led, 6-3, at halftime on field goals by Tony Franklin of 19 and 44 yards. In between, the Jets' Pat Leahy kicked a 53-yard field goal, the longest of his career.
Leahy tied the game with 9:12 gone in the third quarter when he kicked a 52-yard field goal, equaling his second-longest.