EAST RUTHERFORD -- In a remarkable display of opportunistic and complementary football, the Patriots scored 21 points in 52 seconds, highlighting a 35-point second quarter and 49-19 humiliation of the Jets at MetLife Stadium before a national TV audience. The Patriots all but assured themselves of the division title by improving to 8-3 overall, and 4-0 in the AFC East.
Steve Gregory intercepted a pass and recovered a pair of fumbles, returning one for a touchdown as the Patriots scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams for the second straight week. Julian Edelman, before leaving with a head injury in the third quarter, caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and returned a kickoff fumble 22 yards for another score.
Brady finished 18-of-28 for 323 yards, three touchdowns and a season-best 139.4 QB rating. It was Brady's 52nd 300-yard game, tying Kurt Warner for fifth-most in NFL history. Conversely, Mark Sanchez and the Jets provided comic relief the likes of which have rarely been seen in a half of professional football, turning the ball over three times in less than a minute, leading to three touchdowns.
After being held to a three-and-out on their first series, which included a sack and intentional grounding call on Brady, the Patriots responded with an impressive drive from their own 36 to the Jets 21. But Stephen Gostkowski missed wide left on a 39-yard field goal as the game remained scoreless. The Patriots would not be stopped on their next drive. They drove down to the New York 4-yard line in 14 plays, and opened the second quarter with a Wes Welker 4-yard TD reception from Brady. It was the first time all season the Patriots didn't score in the first quarter.
They would more than make up for that with a flurry of scores as they took advantage of complete Jets ineptitude. Trailing 7-0 and facing fourth-and-1 from the Patriots 31, Shonn Greene was stopped short and fumbled the ball forward. It was recovered by Gregory at the Patriots 17. On the next play, Brady hit Shane Vereen on a quick route in the flat. Wes Welker put a block on Bart Scott and Vereen raced 83 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, making it 14-0.
On New York's next drive, Sanchez tried to slide on a scramble near the line of scrimmage. As he was going to the ground, he ran face-first into the rear end of his own lineman - Brandon Moore - and fumbled the ball. Gregory scooped up the fumbled and ran 32 yards for the touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight fumbled the kickoff when Devin McCourty delivered a crushing hit. The ball popped up in the air and was hauled down by Edelman, who returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
The Patriots finished their record-tying 35-point second quarter when Brady hit a wide-open Edelman on a go-route for 59 yards with 3:17 left in the second quarter. Thousands of fans took the opportunity to hit the exits for the night as the stadium was left half-empty as Lenny Kravitz played a halftime show. The Jets avoided the indignity of a shutout when Nick Folk converted a 32-yard field goal with two seconds left before the half. The Jets were booed as they ran the field goal unit on the field.
The only bit of bad karma for the Patriots came in the third quarter when they attempted an end-around run for Edelman. He was hit helmet-to-helmet by LaRon Landry and did not return. The Patriots kept the Jets out of the end zone when they stuff Shonn Greene on fourth-and-goal at the Patriots 1. Stevan Ridley committed a chop-block in the end zone to give the Jets two more points.
Bilal Powell's four-yard run was the first touchdown of the night for the Jets, who later added a 1-yard TD pass from Sanchez to Dustin Keller. The Patriots added touchdown runs from Ridley and Brady - on a 1-yard sneak - to cap their scoring.
The Patriots will have a long weekend to savor the mauling of the Jets and don't play for 10 days, as they return to action on Sunday, Dec. 2 in Miami. For complete coverage from the team of Chris Price and Mike Petraglia on site at MetLife Stadium, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots and the blog It Is What It Is.
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