Tight end Aaron Hernandez returned after missing three games with a sprained ankle and had two catches for 36 yards.
New York’s Mark Sanchez was 26 of 36 for 301 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tebow didn’t play at all — revealing after the game that he has two broken ribs — and stood on the sideline with a cap on throughout despite the occasional chants for him to get some snaps.
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 ugly in a hurry.
“That was crazy,” 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.”
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.
New England was helped by a questionable neutral-zone infraction by Muhammad Wilkerson on third-and-4 from the Jets 49, and a facemask penalty on Ellis Lankster on second-and-10 from the 32 that gave the Patriots the ball at the 9.
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 picked up the ball 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. As a defense, that’s a good sign, when we’re putting good pressure on the ball. It then means something when the offense capitalizes on the mistakes we caused.”
Edelman caught a 56-yard pass from Brady to make it 35-0 with 3:08 left in the first half. The receiver left the game early in the third quarter on a helmet-to-helmet hit by LaRon Landry on an end-around during which he fumbled.