By The Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady and the Patriots were dominating the Jets after three quarters.
Not good enough for Bill Belichick’s bunch.
New England found little resistance in the fourth, too, turning a much-hyped matchup between AFC East co-leaders into a 45-3 blowout Monday night.
“I’ve seen some pretty crazy things happen,” Brady said. “We’ve got to continue to find ways to produce in the fourth quarter.”
The Patriots scored on their first four possessions of the game and their first two of the final quarter in wrapping up the start-to-finish rout.
“I thought we were going to have a huge game,” New York coach Rex Ryan said, “and it was just the opposite.”
How bad was it?
In the 103 meetings between the teams, the only score that was more lopsided was the Patriots 56-3 win on Sept. 9, 1979. It was the Jets’ worst loss since falling 45-3 to Miami in 1986.
The Patriots’ first three series in the second half ended with touchdowns. The Jets’ first three were stopped by interceptions.
“It’s not shocking because we have a great offense,” said tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was wide open for a 1-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Patriots boosted their lead to 38-3. “We have so many weapons. It’s hard to stop an offense like this.”
With Brady throwing for four touchdowns for the second consecutive game — and no interceptions for the seventh straight — the Patriots improved to 10-2, tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL.
“We know that this division goes through New England,” Ryan said after his team fell to 9-3 and ended a four-game winning streak. “They’ve still got Belichick as coach and they’ve still got Brady at quarterback. We’ll never underestimate the New England Patriots.”
The offensive show was no surprise; the Patriots still lead the league in scoring after their second game in a row with exactly 45 points. But the defense, ranked last in yards passing, intercepted Mark Sanchez three times and held him to 164 yards.
“Any time you get the ball back to Tom and his offense, you know you’re doing something right,” said rookie Devin McCourty who grabbed his sixth interception of the year, “because each time Tom is on the field there’s a good chance we’re going to score.”
Especially at home.
Brady set an NFL record with his 26th straight regular-season win in a home start, breaking a tie with Brett Favre. The last team to beat him in the regular season there was the Jets, 17-14 in 2006.
They had beaten him in New York in the second game this season. Another loss and the Jets would not only have a better record but also an edge in the first tiebreaker by beating the Patriots twice.
“We couldn’t afford to lose to them again,” Brady said. “You can’t lose to the same team twice; I don’t think it’s happened here too often since I got here in 2000. If you want to win division, can’t lose to same team twice.”
In the loss, the Patriots led 14-7 in the final minute of the second quarter. They didn’t score again and the Jets won 28-14.
But there was no letup in the rematch.
The Patriots’ first four possessions produced points: Shayne Graham’s 41-yard field goal, BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ 1-yard run, Brady’s 25-yard pass to Deion Branch and his 4-yarder to Brandon Tate. All the Jets could manage was a 39-yard field goal by Nick Folk as they trailed 24-3 at halftime.
Brady kept clicking after he led his team out of the locker room. He threw scoring passes of 18 yards to Wes Welker and 1 yard to Hernandez before Green-Ellis scored on a 5-yard run.
The Patriots got a boost from former Jets running back Danny Woodhead, signed the day before the first game with New York. He took a shovel pass and turned it into a 50-yard gain and picked up another 35 on a short pass.
“Was I over there? Yeah. But that’s not something I dwell on because I’m a New England Patriot,” he said. “It was a big-time atmosphere, division game, both teams 9-2. We needed to win the game.”
The Patriots also got plenty of help from the Jets. Folk missed a field goal before Ellis’ first touchdown and Steve Weatherford shanked a 12-yard punt before Branch scored.
“You can’t make mistakes on Tom Brady,” Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “That’s just one thing you can’t do.”
Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and a passer rating of 148.9, not far from the perfect rating of 158.3 he posted in his previous game, a 45-24 Thanksgiving Day win over the Detroit Lions.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Jets safety Eric Smith, replacing Jim Leonhard after he went on injured reserve with a broken right shin. “We take pride in our defense not letting teams score. To let a team score 45 on you is embarrassing.”
But the Patriots weren’t about to stop trying until the game was over. Brady took every offensive snap at quarterback.
“Throughout the game (Belichick) kept reminding us to play 60 minutes, just put it all together” linebacker Jerod Mayo said, “and this was one of our best efforts of the year.”
Notes: The Jets and Patriots are 51-51-1 against each other. … New York had won eight straight road games, five this year. … Brady moved ahead of the man he replaced as quarterback of the Patriots, Drew Bledsoe, with his 252nd touchdown pass, 13th most in NFL history. … The Patriots honored former linebacker Tedy Bruschi at halftime. … The Jets lost S James Ihedbigo with a right ankle injury. … LaDainian Tomlinson passed Eric Dickerson for sixth in career yards rushing with 13,278. He had 47 Monday night.