East Rutherford, NJ – In less than a minute, the Thanksgiving football nightcap went from competitive to a one-sided blowout.
An 83-yard Shane Vereen TD reception and a pair of fumble recoveries for touchdowns by Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman during a 52-second stretch in the second quarter paved the way for a Patriots' 49-19 blowout victory over the New York Jets.
Tom Brady completed 18-of-28 passes for 323 yards while tossing three touchdowns and adding another on the ground for New England (8-3), which scored at least 40 points for the third time in its last four games.
Without Pro-Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker led the Patriots with seven catches for 71 yards and a score. Aaron Hernandez, who played for the first time after missing the last three games, finished with two catches for 36 yards.
Four days after winning in St. Louis, the Jets (4-7) were decimated by turnovers by the offense and special teams. They had four in the first half and finished with five for the game.
Mark Sanchez threw for 301 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-36 passing, but was intercepted once and also lost a fumble that resulted in a Patriots touchdown.
With the defeat, the Jets lost to the Patriots for the second time this season, clinching the Patriots sixth regular-season sweep of the team in the past 10 seasons.
"I'll put it to you this way, we're about as wounded as you can possibly be, but we're not dead," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "We will give everything we have, every ounce of energy we have to get this thing going."
The Patriots missed on a scoring opportunity in the first quarter, as Stephen Gostkowski's 39-yard field goal sailed wide left, but they made up for it with a 35-point second quarter.
New England began the rout midway through the first after Gregory picked off Sanchez, who had led the Jets 47 yards into Patriots territory.
Off the turnover, the Patriots converted on third down four times during a 15- play drive to score a touchdown. On 3rd-and-goal, Brady found a wide-open Welker in the front-right corner of the end zone to put the Patriots on top 7-0 on the first play in the second quarter.
New York again moved the ball down the field on its next touch, but came up empty once more. After Powell fell a yard short on a third-down rush, the Jets decided to go for it on 4th-and-1, but Shonn Greene was stuffed for no gain and then fumbled trying to stretch the ball over the marker. The Patriots recovered and took over on their own 17.
They needed just one play to add another touchdown to their advantage. Brady looked to the flat and hit a wide-open Shane Vereen, who sprinted down the sideline past the New York defenders for an 83-yard score.
The sloppy play became contagious for New York, as the game quickly spiraled out of control. On a broken play, Sanchez ran up the middle and while sliding, collided with offensive lineman Brandon Moore, jarring the ball out of his hands. Gregory was there to pick up the loose ball and he took it 32 yards for a touchdown to give New England a 21-0 lead.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the ball popped out of Joe McKnight's hands and into Edelman's, who sprinted 22 yards untouched for the Patriots' third score in 52 seconds, increasing New England's margin to four touchdowns.
"It doesn't take a lot to score a lot of points in this league quickly with turnovers, defensive returns and special teams returns. It can add up in a hurry both ways," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Nothing surprises me in the NFL."
Sanchez was sacked on third down on New York's next series, and Brady wasted no time in creating even more separation. He fired a strike to a streaking Edelman for a 56-yard score to push the Patriots' advantage to 35-0 before the Jets' Nick Folk connected on a 32-yard field goal just before the half.
Edelman was forced out of the game in the third on a reception which saw his head collide with Kyle Wilson, who knocked the ball out of his hands. The Jets recovered and drove to the Pats' 1-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs when Greene was stuffed for no gain.
However, on the following play, New York scored a safety when Stevan Ridley was called for a chop block in the end zone.
Set up by a 39-yard pass to Jeff Cumberland, the Jets scored their first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard rush from Bilal Powell with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter to make it a 35-12 game, but the Patriots weren't finished scoring.
New England ate up almost eight minutes on an 87-yard drive, which Brady capped with a 1-yard rush up the middle. Following a fumble from Chaz Schilens, Brady hit Welker for 28 yards before Ridley ran it in from nine yards out.
Sanchez connected with Dustin Keller on a 1-yard score in the closing minutes to account for the final margin.
Belichick earned his 200th career victory ... The Jets' Clyde Gates left the game with head injury in the first half ... Including the postseason, Tom Brady improved to 18-5 against the Jets ... The Patriots have scored 190 points in the last four games. The Jets have scored 221 all season ... New England has won the past five regular season meetings against New York.