After a scoreless first quarter, New York Jets fans watched as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots carved up the Jets' defense on their way to an easy win.
New York looked like they were just waking up from a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap as they practically gave the game away.
With a 35-point second quarter that saw New England score three touchdowns in 52 seconds, the Patriots cruised to a 49-19 victory that may well have put an end to the Jets’ playoff hopes while giving New England a firm control over the AFC East.
So what did we learn from the game?
1. The Patriots' offense can survive without Rob Gronkowski
While Gronkowski has become a focal point of the offense over the last few years, New England answered any questions about how they will respond to his loss in overwhelming fashion.
Daniel Fells lined up with a healthy Aaron Hernandez in the Patriots’ two tight end set and Tom Brady made it look easy all night finishing with 323 yards, three passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown.
2. New England’s running backs are stepping it up
Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen continued the resurgence of the Patriots’ ground game, each adding a touchdown to power the Patriots to coach Bill Belichick’s 200th win.
Ridley is continuing to impress in his second year, while Vereen, who was also drafted last year, now has three touchdowns in his last four games and has double-digit carries in his last two games.
3. The Patriots’ defense will make you pay
Hard hits and opportunistic play have turned the New England defense into a unit to be feared. Steve Gregory picked off Sanchez once to go with his fumble return for a touchdown and Julian Edelman scooped up another fumble for a touchdown during the Patriots’ mammoth second quarter. Brandon Spikes, who knocked Buffalo’s Fred Jackson out of the game with a concussion in week 10, finished the game with 11 tackles, one pass defended, and a forced fumble.
4. The Jets are truly awful
While technically there is still a slim chance that the Jets can slip into the playoffs, the fact that their offense never got off the ground against a Patriots defense that came into the game ranked in the lower half of the league can’t be encouraging.
Despite what looks like a stretch of very winnable games to close out the season, the Jets have done nothing to make us think that the turnovers and mistakes won’t continue.
5. Mark Sanchez is not the answer
With the calls for Tim Tebow getting louder, you have to wonder whether it is just a matter of time before Rex Ryan makes the switch. Unfortunately that switch won’t come anytime soon with Tebow currently nursing two broken ribs.
Though Sanchez didn’t get much help from his wide receivers, his fumble that was returned by the Patriots for a touchdown seems an apt metaphor for how his season has been. After a miscommunication on the hand-off, Sanchez ran into his own player and Patriots safety Steve Gregory took the ball in for the score.
If he hasn’t been able to prove that he is a franchise quarterback in four years as the starter, will he ever? The Jets are heavily invested in him financially and Rex Ryan seems determined to go down with Sanchez, an attitude that may find him on the hot seat sooner rather than later, at least with the fickle New York fan base anyway.