So much anticipation, so little drama.
Tom Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots used a total team effort to silence their division rival New York Jets, 45-3, last night at Gillette Stadium.
It was a night of milestones for Brady, who set an NFL record with his 26th consecutive regular season win at home and moved past former teammate Drew Bledsoe into 13th place in NFL history with his 251st touchdown pass. He also had his 12th game with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he went his seventh straight game without throwing an interception.
But it wasn’t all about Brady. Danny Woodhead, who began the season with the Jets, had four reception for 104 yards, including a 50-yarder on a shovel pass in the third quarter. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a pair of touchdowns, rookie Devin McCourty intercepted his sixth pass of the season, Wes Welker had seven catches for 84 yards and a score, Deion Branch had a 25-yard TD reception, and the list goes on.
Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, all coming on consecutive series in the second half, and finished just 17 of 33 for 164 yards against the NFL’s 32d-ranked pass defense.
By winning the matchup of 9-2 division rivals, the Patriots now have the inside track to a division title, a No. 1 or No. 2 seeding in the AFC playoffs, and possibly a first-round bye.
FINAL SCORE: PATRIOTS 45, JETS 3: And that’s a wrap on an absolute rout, from the first series to the final second. If there’s any doubt who should be topping all of the power polls tomorrow morning, here’s a hint: They just silenced the 9-2 Jets, won their 26th straight game at home, and now own a 10-2 record. We’ll be back with a wrap briefly, and be sure to stick around Extra Points for many more postgame posts.
0:49: Joe McKnight runs for 11 yards. We mention that just to point out that he’s the player the Jets kept over Danny Woodhead. That’s gonna sting the Jets for awhile.
1:50: Gillette is clearing out with the Patriots holding a fairly secure 42-point lead.
2:48: Mesko in to punt. Maybe run a fake here? Kidding, but not really.
4:18: The Patriots pick up a first down after the Jets are penalized for having 12 men on the field. As my colleague Bob Ryan put it: “Well, can’t blame ’em for trying.”
5:44: Fred Taylor carries for no gain. It’s his first carry since Week 3. He’s been sidelined with a toe injury. On his second carry since Week 3, he picks up six yards. Good to see him out there again.
5:49: Sanchez throws behind Tomlinson on fourth and 5 at the Patriots 9, and the end zone remains out of reach for the Jets tonight.
6:58: Jets are moving the ball in garbage time, with Dustin Keller making a 14-yard grab for his third catch of the night. He’s been a nuisance to the Patriots in recent years, but they did a nice job neutralizing him tonight with Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung.
9:20, PATRIOTS 45, JETS 3: This is a thumping, and feel free to choose a harsher word. Green-Ellis plows through the belly of the Jets defense for his second TD of the night, from five yards out. The Jets’ proud defense is either vastly overrated, or Jim Leonhard meant more to the operation than anyone knew.
10:43: On fourth and 1 from the 15, Green-Ellis picks up 10. The message is being sent.
12:46: Sanchez hits James Sanders in the hands for 28 yards. Unfortunately for New York, the Sanders is a Patriots defensive back, and the 28 yards comes on his return, which ends at the Patriots 28. He’s now been picked off on three straight drives. The tabloids are not going to be kind.
14:57, PATRIOTS 38, JETS 3: Brady to Hernandez, one yard, TD, and the lead is 35. Meanwhile, Gillette Stadium patrons are coming up with effective plays on New York’s well-known J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets chant. Your first guess at to what the revised chant says would probably be correct.
0:01: And with the third quarter about to come to a close, the Patriots are on the Jets 1 with yet another effortless drive, the big play coming on a Brady pitch to Danny Woodhead that went for 50 yards. (The play was called a pass, putting Woodhead over 100 yards receiving against his former team.) What a thumping.
3:50: Is it safe to call it a rout yet? Sanchez’s deep pass down the right sideline is picked off by Devin McCourty, the sixth interception of his rookie season. If you want evidence of just how well this kid is playing right now, he now has the second-most interceptions all-time among Patriots rookies, trailing only the eight collected by Mike Haynes in 1976. It should be noted that McCourty punctuated the pick by mimicking the Jets’ “airplane” celebration. He’d better beware. Tomlinson is not going to like this.
4:40, PATRIOTS 31, JETS 3: Now that’s what’s known as a perfectly executed drive. The Patriots go 93 yards on eight plays, taking 4:35 off the clock, with Welker catching a quick out from Brady and carrying Eric Smith the final couple of yards into the end zone for an 18-yard score. The touchdown pass, the 251st of Brady’s career, ties none other than Drew Bledsoe for 13th place on the all-time list. Next up is Dan Fouts at 254. We’re going guess he’s not going to get there tonight, but the way things are going . . .
5:34: Brady to Hernandez for 35 yards, with probably 20 coming after the catch, to reach the NY 24. He might be listed as a tight end, but those are wide receiver’s moves. Brady is particularly animated after the play, appearing to give Hernandez a little extra encouragement.
6:18: Brady to Gronkowski for a first down. Patriots are suddenly taking their time and working the clock.
8:35: Brady gives the Patriots offense some breathing room, hitting Woodhead for 14 yards on first down to reach their own 21.
9:15: Receiver/quarterback Brad Smith trots into the locker room for the Jets. Maybe he’s seen enough?
11:02, third quarter: The Jets begin the second half with what appears to be their best drive of the night. LaDainian Tomlinson does the brunt of the dirty work, passing Eric Dickerson for sixth on the all-time rushing list along the way. The Jets even convert on fourth and 1 at the Patriots 15 on a quick in-cut by Holmes to catch a short Sanchez throw. But again, it ends badly with Brandon Spikes collecting his first NFL interception to kill the drive inside the 10.
:00 second quarter, PATRIOTS 24, JETS 3: New York’s bid to find the end zone before the half ends with Sanchez flinging the ball away while in Banta-Cain’s grasp. Banta-Cain was credited with a sack, and the play seems like an apt metaphor for the first-half performance of the visitors, who were thoroughly dominated by the Patriots.
A couple of key stats while Robert Kraft and the franchise pay homage to Tedy Bruschi on the field. (Bruschi is putting on the No. 54 jersey one more time, as implored by Kraft. A very nice moment, enhanced more by Bruschi calling out the names of his former teammates as the crowd roars for each Harrison, Law, Vrabel and more. Class move.)
Total yards: Patriots 181, Jets 146.
Passing: Brady: 10 of 16 for 152 yards and a pair of TDs with no picks. Sanchez: 8 of 18 for 77 yards and no TDs or interceptions.
Rushing: Green-Ellis leads the Patriots with 37 yards and a TD on nine carries. Greene has 46 yards on eight attempts for the Jets.
Receiving: Wes Welker has four catches for 45 yards, while Branch has three for 64 and a score. Holmes leads the Jets with four receptions for 52 yards.
0:14: Sanchez escapes for an 11-yard gain after Tully Banta-Cain and another Patriots lineman let him slip from their grasp.
0:22: Jets advance to the Patriots 48 on a nice throw-and-catch from Sanchez to Holmes for 22 yards.
1:10: Patriots go three-and-out, with Brady getting sacked twice, by Smith and Harris. Jets start at their 17 after a Mesko 43-yard punt.
2:19: The Jets go three-and-out again — we should note, without the aid of any drops by Edwards — and Weatherford’s 38-yard punt dies at midfield.
4:19: Zoltan Mesko makes his first appearance of the night for the Patriots after they go three-and-out in their own territory. Not only does he boom a 52-yard punt, but he also shows flawless form with a tackle preventing Santonio Holmes from possible going the distance. As it is, there’s a block in the penalty call on the play, and the Jets are penalized back to the NY 12. So Mesko’s tackle is just a memory, and not a statistic.
6:19: The Patriots earn another pelt on third down, forcing a Sanchez incompletion on third and 1 at the NY 46. Sanchez, who is 5 for 13 for 42 yards so far, rolled right and targeted Edwards. He’s 0 for 3 looking his way tonight.
8:15, second quarter, PATRIOTS 24, JETS 3: The record will show that Tom Brady’s 250th touching pass in his NFL career went for four yards to Brandon Tate. Tate got his left foot and left hand down before falling out of bounds, and Rex Ryan, perhaps shell-shocked by the 21-point deficit, decided not to throw the challenge flag on a play in which the officials hesitated for a few seconds before signaling touchdown. Tate’s score finished off a seven-play, 67-yard drive that took 3:59.
9:04: Branch is called for offensive interference after giving Welker an obvious assist in getting open. Got caught that time.
9:45:Green-Ellis breaks it outside for 13 yards on first down, and the Patriots have a new set of downs at the NY 8.
10:10: Brady converts the first down on the QB sneak. He’s a good as that as Drew (Falling Statue) Bledsoe was bad.
11:44: Danny Woodhead with a 35-yard catch and run to get to the NY 38. He must give Rex indigestion every time he sees him. Woodhead gets the ball on the next play, a 4-yard run, after which Jets linebacker David Harris was down for a moment with an apparent injury.
12:14 second quarter, PATRIOTS 17, JETS 3: Folk gets the Jets on the board, connecting on a 39-yard to complete an eight-play, 48-yard drive. The Jets had a chance to sustain the drive on third down, but Braylon Edwards had his second big drop of the night, this one with Kyle Arrington bearing down on him. FYI, google “Braylon Edwards drop” and you get roughly 13,000 options.
13:12, second quarter: Nice start in this game for Shonn Greene, who has picked up 46 yards on seven carries so far. Probably doesn’t make it up to the fantasy football owners who drafted him in the first round, however. Jets have it at the Patriots 21, third and 3, with the Patriots mulling over their options after calling their second timeout of the half.
:00 The first quarter couldn’t have gone any better for the Patriots, who have already surpassed their point total from these teams’ Week 2 meeting. A key pass interference and a gacked punt lead to 14 points.
1:01, PATRIOTS 17, JETS 0: They went for it and . . . jackpot. Brady to Branch, who takes it the rest of the way for a 25-yard touchdown. Branch was freed up by Danny Woodhead pick that Kendrick Perkins would be proud of, and Woodhead also blocked Cromartie to help Branch finish off the run. If the knee problems Branch had in Seattle cost him a step, it sure isn’t evident.
1:07: Brady finds Branch for 20 yards on third and 23, and the Patriots call a timeout to discuss their fourth-down options. The wind is at their back on what would be a 42-yard attempt for Graham. For now, the offensive unit is on the field.
2:01: Brady sacked on first down by James Ihedigbo for a loss of 12.
2:36: Hideous possession for the Jets. A first down run that gains three yards but looked like a fumble, a delay of game penalty, a drop by Braylon Edwards, an incomplete pass to Santonio Holmes (busted up nicely by Darius Butler), and a complete shank by punter Steve Weatherford that went 12 yards. Patriots take over on the Jets 32.
4:02, PATRIOTS 10, JETS 0: The penalty on Smith proves incredibly costly, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs it in from the 1 on second down. The play took six plays, covered 38 yards, and knocked 2:48 off the clock. Smith is the early leader for goat of the game.
4:41: The Jets officially miss Jim Leonhard, their injured safety. His replacement, Eric Smith, is flagged for a 38-yard pass interference penalty after hopelessly face-guarding Rob Gronkowski on a deep throw to the left corner of the end zone.
5:48: Unbelievable throw by Brady to Wes Welker on third and 7 to get to the Jets’ 40. He looked off Hernandez, avoided a direct rush by Mike DeVito, stepped up and threaded it between a pair of defensive backs. There aren’t three QBs in the league who make that throw.
7:08: Tomlinson for three, and it’s another third down . . . and this time the Patriots, with six DBs on the field, force Sanchez into an incompletion on third and 7. Nick Folk on to attempt a 53-yarder . . . and it’s wide left. Very wide left. Patriots take over at their 43. Given the cold conditions and Folk’s struggles — he’s missed six of his last 11 — that probably wasn’t Ryan’s smartest decision there. But he prides himself in winning those low-percentage gambles. When he wins them, that is.
8:23: Gutsy call by Ryan on fourth down, going for it at their own 46, and Shonn Greene rewards the call with a 2-yard gain. On the next play, LaDainian Tomlinson picks up 14 yards, and the Jets suddenly have momentum at the Patriots 38.
8:35: The ruling on the field stands. Rex is charged with a timeout.
8:35: Mark Sanchez is stopped on a sneak for no gain on third and 1 at their own 46. The Jets are challenging the spot.
10:22: Patriots open with five defensive backs, with Darius Butler in the slot. Two plays later, Butler is in coverage when Jerricho Cotchery catches a 7-yard pass for a first down. Can’t reiterate this enough: It’s imperative the Patriots get off the field on third down at a much better clip than they have this season, when they’ve allowed a league-worst 51 percent conversion rate.
10:49: Ron Brace, not Brandon Deaderick, is starting at defensive tackle in place of Mike Wright. This place right now is as loud as we’ve heard it all season.
10:49: Jets begin their first possession at their own 26 after a 25-yard return by Brad Smith.
10:57, PATRIOTS 3, JETS 0: The drives stalls with two incomplete passes in Branch’s direction — the first looked catchable and on the second Brady didn’t see a wide-open Aaron Hernandez. But Shayne Graham salvages things, booting a 41-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 52-yard drive that took 4:03.
11:43:Brady hits Deion Branch on a comeback route for a 20-yard gain to the New York 23. Take that, Cris Carter.
12:14: Danny Woodhead, who by the way began the season with the Jets, picks up a first down with a 7-yard run on a trap play.
13:30: Patriots advance to their own 46 after a 12-yard run by Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis. Alge Crumpler opened the hole with a vicious block on Jets linebacker David Harris.
14:54: As expected, Dan Connolly starts at right guard in place of Stephen Neal, who went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury this week.
15:00, first quarter: With Bruschi participating in the coin toss, the Jets win and defer. They will defend the north end zone.
Rene Rancourt gets it done with the National Anthem, finishing with the fist pump and a flex of the biceps. The gun show wasn’t particularly visible from the press box, but the effort was outstanding.
We’re less than 15 minutes from kickoff here at chilly Gillette Stadium, which could be downright frigid during the game since wind chill is expected to dip into single digits. Right now, it’s 27 degrees with a wind chill of 15. We’ll assume it’s considerably warmer on your couch.
It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the weather has on the game; one potential situation where it may come into play is on special teams. The Jets lost starting safety Jim Leonhard to a leg injury on Friday. But his absence won’t hurt them only on defense; he was a very sure-handed punt returner, and in his absence, they are expected to turn to receiver receiver Jerricho Cotchery or cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
The most notable inactive for the Patriots is defensive lineman Mike Wright, while Myron Pryor is also out. The Jets deactivated veteran receiver Lavernues Coles, who was signed this week when there was concern that Cotchery might not be able to play.
Also, a reminder: The Patriots will honor Tedy Bruschi at halftime. We presume the few flakes of snow falling here right now are in his honor.
We’ll be back with updates all throughout the game, so be sure to hang with us here at Extra Points . . .