It took the Patriots only 52 seconds to kill the Jets' season.
A national audience saw Rex Ryan's team implode Thursday night in the first half of a game the Jets desperately needed to win to keep up their improbable dream of reaching the postseason.
The game was over by halftime, as New England used the Jets' incompetence against them in a 49-19 rout fueled by five Jets turnovers. Two fumbles were returned for touchdowns and two fumbles and an interception were converted into TDs.
The Patriots scored four TDs in the span of 6:03 in the second quarter, but it was the back-to-back fumbles that sparked the 35-point second-quarter onslaught. "Obviously, that was a nightmare of a game,'' said Ryan, who added that Jets fans deserve "a lot better than that . . . That is a good enough team. You don't have to help them.''
New England (8-3) took a 7-0 lead on Wes Welker's 3-yard catch six seconds into the second quarter. Five minutes later, Shonn Greene fumbled on fourth-and-1 at the Patriots' 41, and safety Steve Gregory recovered. On the very next play, Tom Brady connected with Shane Vereen, who raced -- untouched -- 83 yards down the left sideline to make it 14-0.
That "drive" took 13 seconds.
The Jets' gaffes continued. On first down, Mark Sanchez inexplicably ran into guard Brandon Moore's butt and fumbled while falling backward. Gregory again was there for the Patriots. The safety -- born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island -- scooped up the ball and scampered 32 yards for a touchdown.
And the clumsiness went on. On the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight coughed up the ball, and it was picked off in the air by Julian Edelman. He ran 22 yards to make it 28-0, giving the Patriots three touchdowns in 52 seconds. But Edelman wasn't done. He put the Pats up 35-0 on a 56-yard pass from Brady with 3:08 left in the quarter.
Fifty-two seconds is the quickest any Jets opponent has scored three TDs since 1970. Dustin Keller called the loss "embarrassing'' and added, "You just can't have turnovers like that . . . We're just killing ourselves.''
Nick Folk's field goal with two seconds left in the half were the only points the Jets (4-7) could muster in 30 minutes. But they made sure to celebrate the kick with fireworks.
Brady threw for 323 yards and three TDs, and the Patriots ran for 152 yards. Sanchez completed 26 of 36 for 301 yards and a TD but was sacked twice for a loss of 15 yards and had one interception plus the lost fumble.
The chants for Tim Tebow rained down early and often in the first half, but the calls for a change went unanswered. Tebow, who has two broken ribs suffered in the Seattle game, didn't play. "I don't blame them for booing me,'' Sanchez said. "Our fans are passionate.''
Tebow said of his ribs, "They've been better. They'll heal.'' He added, "I had to do a little bit of talking just to dress. I just wanted to be there for my teammates in case they needed me in an emergency situation.''
Tebow said he doesn't remember the exact play in which he was injured but believes he was on offense at the time. "Didn't really notice it and kept playing,'' he said. "Started to feel it later on.''
Ryan said he's sticking with Sanchez. "It's hardly one guy,'' Ryan said, adding that Sanchez "threw the ball well. Again, Mark will be the starting quarterback this week.''
Ryan wasn't definitive when asked if his team still can make the playoffs. But he clearly hasn't given up. "We're about as wounded as we can possibly be,'' he said. "But we're not dead.''