Patriots rout Jets, 45-3, in battle for first
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - After 11 days of chatter and hype, with the Jets saying countless times they thought they were the better team and were looking forward to proving it, they never showed up for their huge matchup with the Patriots Monday night at chilly Gillette Stadium.
The Jets were thoroughly beaten down, 45-3, on "Monday Night Football" in a game that could have given them a significant edge in the race for their first AFC East title since 2002.
"Clearly, we got our butts kicked,'' Rex Ryan said. "We got outplayed, we got outcoached.''
Speaking of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Ryan said: "I came in here to kick his butt and he kicked mine.''
Said Sione Pouha, "This humble pie tastes like a car tire, and it goes down like peanut butter. That's how it feels. Sunday can't come soon enough.''
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and completed 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards for the Patriots (10-2), who led 24-3 at the half.
The Jets (9-3) yielded 405 yards, mustered 301 and converted just 3 of 12 third-down attempts. They were lethargic and shaky in every facet of the game, never giving the impression they came in tied for the AFC's best record.
"Of course it's a punch in the gut,'' Bart Scott said. "National TV, whole world watching and we didn't represent ourselves and we weren't the true New York Jets. But by no means are we flinching. We go back to work, we've got a short week and we've got a lot to play for. Hopefully, we see these guys again and we'll get another opportunity.''
Mark Sanchez reverted to a turnover machine, getting picked off three times and completing 17 of 33 attempts for 164 yards. He was totally outplayed by Brady, who carved up a Jets secondary playing without safety Jim Leonhard, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a fractured right tibia.
"We got our butts whipped tonight,'' Sanchez said. "Flat- out, that's the way you've got to say it.''
Braylon Edwards didn't argue. "Not to sugarcoat anything; we got our -- kicked,'' he said. "We got our butts whupped in all phases of the ball: offense, defense and special teams. So we give them the credit. They came to play today. We got behind early and that was that. We gave up on all phases of the game."
"We just lost,'' Jason Taylor said. "We lost to a good football team. They played better then we did, they coached better than we did, they finished better than we did. They beat the hell out of us.''
Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, whom the Jets released after Week 1 of the season, caught four passes for 104 yards, including a 50-yarder. BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Even when they looked poised to try to get back into it, the Jets fell flat on their faces, embarrassing themselves on national television. They took the second-half kickoff and went 57 yards in nine plays, only to turn the ball over in excruciating fashion.
Facing a second-and-8 at New England's 9-yard line, Sanchez, apparently looking for Edwards on a skinny post route off play action, was picked off by linebacker Brandon Spikes, who read the play the entire way. Edwards had two players draped all over him in the end zone, so it was an ill-fated decision.
Said Edwards, "We took an 'L,' it was a big 'L.' It was embarrassing for this organization, for us players. Our name will always be mentioned in this game - 'Monday Night Football,' 45-3, we'll always be a part of that. So we just need to look at it, take onus, don't put the blame on anybody, everybody look in the mirror and accept blame for your part in it. If you don't feel like you had blame, what could you have done better and move forward on Wednesday.
"We got embarrassed tonight and everybody will have something to say about it - fans, media, people who are on the outside looking in, people that watched 'Hard Knocks' - everybody will have a comment to make about the Jets and what they thought about tonight, and most of them are right. But at the same time, it's just one game. So we are 9-3, which is still a pretty good record, and we are looking to be 10-3 at the end of next week against the Dolphins.''
New England was in control from the outset. The Patriots went 52 yards in eight plays before stalling at the Jets' 23 and settling for a 41-yard field goal by Shayne Graham, one of the few times the Jets' third-ranked defense managed to stop the Pats.
The Jets came out trying to set a quick tempo, but they just didn't look good from their opening possession. Nick Folk hooked a 53-yard field-goal try that would have given the Jets something positive after a 12-play drive. Instead, it established a bad tone early, providing a microcosm of the ugly game it would turn out to be.
The Patriots padded their cushion on their ensuing drive. A six-play, 53-yard march capped by Green-Ellis' 1-yard touchdown run made it 10-0 with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
After a shanked 12-yard punt by Steve Weatherford, New England ripped out the Jets' hearts with a fourth-down conversion on the ensuing possession. On fourth-and-3, wideout Deion Branch caught a simple slant, broke through tackle attempts by Antonio Cromartie and James Ihedigbo and darted 25 yards for a touchdown that put the Jets in a 17-0 hole with 1:01 left in the first quarter.
On their third drive, the Jets actually found a way to move the ball down the field against the NFL's worst defense, which came in yielding 399.1 yards per game. They went 46 yards in eight plays, and Folk hit a 39-yarder to make it 17-3 with 12:14 left in the half.
But any good vibes that came along with those points soon vanished. Brady hit Brandon Tate with a 4-yard touchdown toss to finish a 67-yard drive and produce a 24-3 halftime bulge. He added touchdown passes of 18 yards to Wes Welker and 1 yard to Aaron Hernandez in the second half, concluding a pair of eight-play drives that went 93 and 94 yards, and Green-Ellis scored on a 5-yard run for the final margin.
Said Scott, "They are not going to feel sorry for us and we don't want anyone to feel sorry for us. We'll take our medicine and we'll take whatever comments are written about us and who we are and what we are. We've got big shoulders. We'll take it and we'll move forward. I'm not flinching and I'm sure these guys here aren't flinching. We've still got a lot to play for and this is still a good football team and like I said, hopefully, we'll get an opportunity to see them again.''