FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It wasn't the first thought that crossed defensive tackle Chris Jones' mind after his game-saving blocked field goal secured the New England Patriots' 27-25 victory over the visiting New York Jets on Thursday night.
Only after a little time had passed did he acknowledge, "It's hard to believe sometimes."
Hard to believe, indeed, because the last time the Patriots and Jets had played -- in October of 2013 -- Jones was also the difference-maker while defending against a field goal attempt. But that time, it was his push of a teammate that was penalized on a 56-yard attempt in overtime that Nick Folk missed. After the penalty, Folk hit the game-winning 42-yard field goal in a devastating loss that had Bill Belichick fuming, but later acknowledging his misunderstanding of the rule, and Jones taking personal accountability for costing his team a game.
So it was only natural to make the connection to that game when replaying what unfolded a year later.
With 5 seconds remaining Thursday, Folk lined up a 58-yard field goal as Jones once again joined his teammates on the field goal block team.
"It's win or lose at that point, so there's a lot of stress in that situation," said Jones, in his second year out of Bowling Green. "You have to keep your cool and do your job."
Jones moved at the last moment, aligning in the gap between the snapper and guard, before surging forward and thrusting his left arm into the air as the low-trajectory football exploded into his open hand.
"I felt it pretty good in my palm and knew I got it pretty good," he said. "I saw it go past the line and hit the ground, and I started running off the field. I didn't know what to do at the moment."
How about celebrate?
Turns out Jones, who said it was the first time he has ever blocked a field goal at any level of football, wasn't the only player in a bit of a state of shock.
"I was trying to push the pocket -- put my head down and I just went straight forward as fast as I could," defensive tackle Casey Walker said. "All of a sudden, I just heard, 'Boop!' and I was like, 'What?' I didn't know who did it or what, but as long as it gets done it doesn't matter."
That's true, but the fact it was Jones wasn't lost on many.
"After what happened last year, I thought it was fitting that he made that play," Belichick said. "That was awesome."
"I didn't really think about it at first and then it kind of hit me," Jones said. "I had people in here telling me about it. The reality is it did happen last year, and this year it was a different story. We ended up coming out with the win, and I'm excited about that."
The Jets obviously were crushed.
"I tried to drive it a little bit," Folk said. "I was told my line was at the 40, so I tried to give it a good ride. I felt like I hit it pretty good. It's just a bummer that I didn't get it past 8 yards."
"A 58-yard field goal, he's got to hit a low line drive," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "The kid made a great play."
Patriots players said they've practiced that type of field goal block often. Part of their technique is to have three different clusters of players move at the last moment before the snap, perhaps to induce a false start. One of the players on the rush was 6-foot-8 offensive tackle Nate Solder.
The Jets didn't flinch, so then came the process of creating penetration and reaching up for the block, which Jones delivered.
"He stepped up and made up for last year's field goal," defensive end Rob Ninkovich said.
"It's pretty ironic," quarterback Tom Brady added. "Football is a great sport, and you never know what you're going to get."
The Patriots got more than they bargained for from the Jets, decisively losing the time-of-possession battle 40:54 to 19:06 while being outplayed for long stretches before hanging on to win.
"Hopefully you don't have to do that too many times," Jones said.
It's better than the alternative, of course, as Jones knows all too well after what unfolded last year.