The New York Jets were in this one for a quarter.
Then it got ugly. And, fast.
As for their slim playoff hopes? Those appear to be done, too.
Rex Ryan's Jets turned the ball over five times and New England took advantage, using a 35-point second quarter to cruise to a 49-19 victory Thursday night. Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score.
"That was crazy," Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "I've never seen anything like that. This is a team you can't turn the ball over against because they make you pay. That was a great display of that today."
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Patriots (8-3) went on a touchdown spree despite holding the ball for only 2:14, making the most of several mistakes by the hapless Jets (4-7). Their 35 second-quarter points tied for the fourth-most in a quarter in NFL history.
"That team is a good enough team where we don't have to help them," Ryan said. "Thirty-five points in a quarter, I thought that was almost impossible to do. They found a way to do it."
Disgusted Jets fans were chanting for Tim Tebow — who later revealed he has two broken ribs — to play before the second quarter of this Thanksgiving showdown was over, and booing as the team left the MetLife Stadium field at halftime.
"Shoot, I don't blame them for booing," Ryan said.
New England, which beat Indianapolis 59-24 on Sunday, scored four touchdowns in just over 6 minutes — including three in a jaw-dropping 52-second span — helping Bill Belichick become the eighth coach in NFL history with 200 career victories, including the playoffs. The 108 points in a two-week stretch are also a franchise record.
Julian Edelman returned a fumble for a touchdown and caught a 56-yard pass for a score before leaving with a head injury. Wes Welker and Shane Vereen had touchdown catches, Steve Gregory returned a fumble for a score, and Stevan Ridley ran for a touchdown.
"I was unfortunately on the other side of that in a Pro Bowl where they scored on a fumble, then an interception," Belichick said. "It doesn't take a lot to score like that — defensive touchdowns, special teams, they can add up in a hurry.
"Nothing surprises me in the NFL."
But not even Ryan saw this coming for his team.
The Jets allowed their most points since giving up 52 to Miami in the 1995 season opener, and will likely have to win their remaining five games to even have an outside chance at the postseason.
"Discouraged? Of course," Ryan said. "I'll put it to you this way: We're about as wounded as you possibly can be, but we're not dead."
They're getting close, though. Even if they're not ready to acknowledge that yet.
"We have five games left and let's see how good we can play and how good we can coach," Ryan said.
Ryan, whose job security has come into question with the Jets struggling, was asked if he expects to return next season.
"I do," he said. "I think our team will play a heck of a lot better and I don't believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year's over. That's my personal opinion."
Sanchez was 26 of 36 for 301 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tebow didn't play at all and stood on the sideline with a cap on throughout despite the occasional chants for him to get some snaps.
New England was without star tight end Rob Gronkowski, out a few weeks after breaking his left forearm in the win Sunday against Indianapolis. It didn't need him — not with the Jets fumbling and bumbling around.
Brady finished 18 of 28 for 323 yards before leaving with 2 minutes left in the game. He reached 3,000 yards passing for the 10th time, becoming one of six players to accomplish the feat. He also passed Dan Fouts for 10th place on the career passing list.
It looked as though this one might be a close one as both teams missed opportunities to score in the opening quarter, including Stephen Gostkowski going wide left on a 39-yard field goal attempt for New England. The Jets were hoping to boost their playoff hopes and keep some momentum going after a 27-13 victory at St. Louis last Sunday that snapped a three-game skid.
But this one got out of hand in a hurry.
The Patriots jumped on a poor decision by Sanchez, who ruined a nice drive by keying in on Jeremy Kerley on second-and-6 from the 23. Gregory read the play the whole way for an easy interception.
Brady then led the Patriots on a 15-play, 84-yard drive that was capped by Welker's 3-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the second quarter.
The Jets made another costly mistake on their next possession when Shonn Greene fumbled on fourth-and-inches from the Patriots 31 and Gregory recovered. Brady threw a swing pass on first down to Vereen, who zipped down the left sideline untouched for an 83-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 9:43 remaining in the opening half.
The Patriots were back in the end zone moments later when Sanchez fumbled on second down as he fell when right guard Brandon Moore's backside slammed into him. Gregory picked up the ball and ran it 32 yards for a score to put New England up 21-0.
And, the Patriots weren't done.
Joe McKnight, one of the league's top returners, fumbled the ensuing kickoff on a hit by Devin McCourty. Edelman grabbed the ball out of the air and scooted 22 yards for yet another score.
"That was quick," Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "They were some of the quickest scores I've ever seen on any level."
Edelman caught a 56-yard pass from Brady to make it 35-0 with 3:08 left in the first half.
"This," Moore said, "was totally unexpected."
NOTES: Jets WR Clyde Gates also left with a head injury in the second quarter after a hard hit from Kyle Arrington. ... Ridley was called for a chop block in the end zone midway through the third quarter, giving the Jets a safety. ... Jets players ran out of the tunnel together, and first responders for Superstorm Sandy were introduced as a group before the game. Staten Island's Filipowicz family served as honorary captains for the Jets. John K. Filipowicz and his son, John C. Filipowicz, were killed in the storm.
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