Donaldson: Pats prove they are best in the East

Dec 10 2010 - 5:32pm

FOXBORO, Mass. -- There's no doubt now, which is the best team in the AFC.

And, let's just say it's the P-A-T-S, Pats, Pats, Pats!

Who Monday night exposed the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, as a J-O-K-E, joke, joke, joke.

What was expected to be a thriller turned out to be a laugher.

It was a night of high-scoring, high-hilarity for New England who led, 17-0, after just one quarter and wound up pounding New York, 45-3.

They exiled the Jets from the apex of the AFC East to the loneliness of Revis Island. Which may not be such a bad place for the Jets to hang out for the next week, as long as there are no newspapers, television highlight shows or talk radio available.

The tight-lipped Patriots showed the loquacious Jets, summer-time stars in HBO's cute and colorful training camp reality show, exactly what really "Hard Knocks" were.

The Jets like to talk the talk. But this time, instead of walking the walk, they let the Patriots walk all over them.

Actually, make that stomp all over them.

Before his team's game with the Browns in Cleveland, Rex Ryan, New York's good-natured, always-quotable coach, wore a wig to impersonate his longhaired twin brother, Rex, the Brownies' defensive coordinator.

After this one, Ryan may have wanted to add dark glasses, a false nose and whatever other disguise would help him slip out of Gillette Stadium incognito.

Assuming, that is, it's possible for a 300-plus-pound guy to slip out of anywhere unnoticed.

The Jets have been living on the edge for the last month. They were lucky to beat the Lions and Browns in overtime. They came from behind to nip the Texans with a touchdown in the final seconds two weeks ago.

On Monday night the Patriots pushed the Jets over the edge.

Whether they plunged them into an irrecoverable tailspin remains to be seen but, with games later this month on the road at Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Jets are going to have to regain control of the throttle in a hurry, lest they find themselves in a death spiral.

The high-flying Patriots were in complete control Monday night.

They showed, beyond a Ryan-sized shadow of a doubt, that they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and revealed that the thoroughly outplayed and completely outcoached Jets are mere pretenders.

Tom Brady put on a passing clinic, reading the Jets' defense as easily as a pre-school primer. While he threw for four touchdowns, without anything close to an interception, Mark "The San-chise" Sanchez threw three interceptions and nothing remotely resembling a touchdown.

The killer for Sanchez and the Jets came early in the third quarter, when they actually had a chance -- slim though it may have been -- to make a game of it.

After taking the second-half kickoff, New York drove to the Patriots' 9-yard line.

But, on second-and-8, New England's rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes stepped in front of a Sanchez pass over the middle, intercepting at the two and frustrating New York yet again.

Brady and the Patriots then proceeded to drive 93 yards in eight plays to the touchdown that effectively ended the game -- although not the amusement on an entertaining night, when the Pats rolled to their largest margin of victory over their Route 95 rivals since a 56-3 trouncing in 1979, when Steve Grogan was at QB.

The highlight of that decisive drive was a 35-yard completion to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose dazzling, open-field running brought the ball to the New York 24.

When Hernandez got off the ground, he was greeted by Brady, who, with arms spread wide, gave him a hug and a friendly, helmet-to-helmet, congratulatory head-bump.

Two plays later, Brady hit Wes Welker for 18 yards and a touchdown, and the Jets were hanging their heads.

Instead of 24-10, it was 31-3.

The rout was on.

It was authoritative, and utter, and complete for the Patriots. For the Jets, it was way beyond embarrassing and deep into the realm of humiliating.

The Jets, at 9-2, came in with a record equal to the best in the NFL. The Patriots made them look like one of the league's worst teams.

Their domination was so complete, it's almost impossible to believe that the Jets actually beat the Patriots in Week Two, 28-14.

Clearly, the Patriots are a much better team now. And much, much better than the Jets.

By the time it was over, Sanchez's quarterback rating threatened to drop below the chilly, game-time temperature of 27 degrees.

He just barely made it, finishing with a lowly rating of 27.8 after completing only 17 of 33 passes for 164 yards.

Brady, on the other hand, finished with a rating of 148.9 after completing 21 of 29 for 326 yards.

"This was the best 60 minutes of football we've played all year," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

With four weeks to go in the season, the Pats -- not the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets -- are the best team in the AFC.

And, unless you're an Atlanta Falcons fan, you'd have to say the entire NFL.


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