Tom Brady, one of three Players of the Game, bites into a turducken drumstick after the Patriots’ 49-19 Thanksgiving Night win.
After a long day of turkey, stuffing and everything in between, the best part of the day finally arrived. The injury-battered Patriots and fast-fading Jets faced off for the second time this year on Thanksgiving Night in the Meadowlands as the Jets tried to salvage their season with a win over their archrivals. The game was nothing short of bizarre with a scoreless 1st quarter followed by a 38-point 2nd quarter as well as the first 35-5 score in NFL history. When all was said and done, the Patriots won their fifth straight by a score of 49-19.
Rex Ryan, fresh off of eating three or four Thanksgiving dinners, led the 4-6 Jets into the Thanksgiving Night game against their most bitter division rivals. The short week proved killer for New York as the Patriots torched the Jets for 49 points including their first 35 in the 2nd quarter. The win improved New England’s record to 19-0 in the second half of the past three seasons.
It was an ugly start to the game as the teams traded punts and then a low throw from Tom Brady, who was looking for Wes Welker, brought up a 4th down for the Pats. Stephen Gostkowski was summoned and promptly missed his second field goal in the last two weeks and the score remained 0-0 midway through the 1st quarter, but Brady did go over 3,000 yards in a season for the 10th time in his career. He’s just the sixth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat six times.
The Jets began to drive until, in typical Mark Sanchez fashion, he threw an interception in the red zone. Steve Gregory picked it off to give the ball back to the Pats. It was the 22nd straight game with a takeaway for New England, the longest active streak in the NFL.
A facemask penalty tacked on to the end of a Shane Vereen run brought the Patriots inside the Jets 10 as the 1st quarter ran out. It was only the third quarter this season that the Patriots have failed to put up any points. Brady found a pretty open Welker for a four-yard touchdown pass to put the Pats on top 7-0 to start the 2nd though. It was Welker’s first touchdown catch since Week 6 against Seattle.
Sanchez then had the Jets in position to score again on 3rd & 2 in the red zone. Blial Powell was stuffed for a gain of just one and then Shonn Greene fumbled on 4th & 1 as he was stuffed too. Gregory figured in the turnover again as he recovered the fumble forced by Brandon Spikes at the Patriots’ 17-yard line. Brady only needed one play as he hit Vereen, who took it all the way down the sideline, for an 83-yard touchdown to put the road team up 10-0. Brady knew where he wanted to go the whole time as he saw the man coverage against Vereen on the outside and looked off the coverage until dumping it off to his running back.
What happened next shocked everyone. Even those who have seen Sanchez play over the years. The quarterback took off running after a busted play and ran right into the back of one of his own lineman. He fumbled and Gregory, who would be off the charts if defensive players could be picked in fantasy, picked it up and returned it for a touchdown and the 21-0 lead.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Joe McKnight fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Julian Edelman recovered it before running it back for his third touchdown in the past two games. After a slow start, it was 28-0 Pats midway through the 2nd quarter. It capped off a 53-second span in which the Patriots scored three touchdowns. If you got up to grab some leftovers, you probably missed it.
It was also their fifth return touchdown in their last two games, which tied an NFL record. On top of that, their 35 2nd quarter-points were tied for the 4th-most in a single quarter in NFL history. It marked the second time the Patriots have ever put up 35 in a single quarter and was the first time the Jets had ever given up that much. According to Elias, it was just the third time that a team has scored 21 points in less than a minute since 1970.
No points for the Jets again and then Brady hit Edelman on a 56-yard touchdown pass to give the Pats their 34th and 35th points of the 2nd quarter. And the rout was on. For the second straight game, Edelman got in the endzone twice. His four touchdowns in his last two games equaled his total in his first 45 career games. He also became the 4th player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD & fumble return TD in the same season as well as the first player since 1968 with an offensive and special teams TD in consecutive weeks. I’m sure thankful for his production in the last two games.
A 4th & 1 conversion with 28 seconds left got the Jets inside the New England 15, but they had to spike the ball, ending up wasting about 17 seconds and attempting the field goal anyway. The kick by Nick Folk was good and the Jets got on the board, entering halftime trailing the division-leading Patriots, 35-3.
Unfortunately for the home team, the 2nd half didn’t go much better. Gregory, who would later be named one of the John Madden Players of the Game, forced another fumble by Jeremy Kerley, but New York was able to recover this time. A challenged incomplete touchdown pass held and again, the Pats stuffed the Jetsk. First, on 3rd & goal, they stopped Sanchez and then contained Greene to forced the turnover on downs.
The next New England play resulted in a safety, however, as Stevan Ridley committed a chop block penalty in the endzone and that’s how we arrived at the first ever 35-5 score in the NFL. Powell then scored on a 4-yard run just over two minutes later and after New England had scored the first 35 points of the game, the Jets scored the next 12 to close out the 3rd quarter.
The Pats continued to pour it on in the 4th as Brady snuck into the endzone from a yard out to make it 42-12 Pats and then Ridley ran in untouched, with the help of a Daniel Fells block, from nine yards two plays after a Chaz Schilens fumble.
The Patriots’ 108 points in their last two games is good for the 2nd-most in a two-game span in NFL history behind the 1950 Rams, who exploded for 135 in two games.
A late Dustin Keller touchdown grab cut the lead to 30, but only mattered for those with him and Sanchez on their fantasy teams at that point and the Pats beat the Jets for the second time this year, this one much easier than the first.
In their last four games, the Patriots offense has really come alive, scoring at least 37 points in each of them and outscoring their opponents 190-81 in the span. They have won their last two games by a total of 75 points. It was also the fourth time this year that Patriots’ No. 1 offense has scored 45 or more points in a game (52, 45, 59, 49).
The Pats won their third straight Thanksgiving Day game and scored at least 45 points in their second straight. They have won five straight overall against the Jets.
Brady finished 18-28 for 323 yards and three touchdowns. He shared Player of the Game honors with Gregory as well as Vince Wilfork, who made three tackles and clogged the running lanes all night to lead the Patriots’ front seven.
With Rob Gronkowski out with the broken arm, Vereen led all Patriots’ receivers in yardage with 91. Welker chipped in with his usual seven catches for 71 yards and , in his return to the lineup, Aaron Hernandez caught two balls for 36 yards.
Six different Patriots found the endzone.
Ridley came up just short of 100 yards again as he finished with 97, but did get in the endzone for the fourth straight game.
Edelman left the game in the 3rd quarter with a head injury and did not return. The team did fine without him or some of their other big name players including Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer and Chandler Jones.
If the offense keeps going like this, another successful postseason may be in store a little ways down the road.
The 8-3 Patriots will visit the 4-6 Dolphins a week from Sunday and the current last-place Jets (4-7) will play host to the reeling Cardinals on Dec. 2 as well.
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