Every now and then, a rivalry game becomes lopsided very fast and the air rapidly leaves the losing sideline. That's exactly what happened Monday night at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots routed the Jets 45-3.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady raised his level of play -- if that's possible -- from last week's performance at Detroit, because he did it for all four quarters Monday instead of the two he dominated the Lions for. He finished 21 of 29 for 326 yards and four touchdowns against the Jets, connecting with eight different receivers for a 148.9 passer rating. His young defense, meanwhile, made Jets QB Mark Sanchez look like a rookie again, picking off three passes and keeping New York's offense out of sync all night.
New England improved to 10-2 with the win and took over sole possession of first place in the AFC East. The Patriots also are in the driver's seat for home-field advantage in the AFC. The Jets fell to 9-3, which is still good for the conference No. 5 seed.
• On a night when the football world mourned the passing of legendary ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Monday Night Football broadcaster Don Meredith, the game -- expected to be one of the season's best -- fell well short of matching that emotion. But for Patriots fans, it couldn't have gone any better as their team dominated in all facets of the game.
• Former Jets running back Danny Woodhead, who was a fan favorite on HBO's "Hard Knocks" series before being inexplicably released, got his revenge on his former team. The speedy and hard-nosed player caught four passes for 104 yards with a long of 50, keeping up with Patriots coach Bill Belichick's strategy of taking other team's castoffs and finding them roles on his team.
• Brady and Belichick have now combined for 107 wins, tying them with Hall-of-Famers Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for second all-time in NFL history behind Hall-of-Famers Don Shula and Dan Marino (112) for most victories by a coach/QB combo. Brady also extended his streak of games with at least two touchdown passes and no interceptions to five, tying Joe Theismann for second behind Meredith's six in 1965-66.
• Sanchez had not thrown an interception in the red zone all season before giving linebacker Brandon Spikes an early Christmas gift on the opening drive of the second half. On 2nd-and-8 from the Patriots' 9, Sanchez tried to hit Santonio Holmes on a slant but threw it right to Spikes instead. Sanchez would throw two more interceptions in the loss -- Devin McCourty and James Sanders had the other two picks.
• Monday's victory was Brady's 26th consecutive home win -- an NFL record, surpassing the mark Brett Favre set at Lambeau Field when he was with the Green Bay Packers.
• Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez showed off his running ability after the catch on a 35-yard reception, which set up Wes Welker's 18-yard TD reception. Hernandez finished with three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on the night.
• Brady and Jets outside linebacker Jason Taylor had a lengthy conversation on the field after the game -- the two players have long had a mutual respect for each other. Taylor was held without a sack and left the field for a bit in the first half to get looked at, but he returned in the second half.
• New York did get to Brady three times in the second, with David Harris, Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo collecting one sack apiece.
• In a game that Patriots owner Robert Kraft called, "the biggest regular-season game in our history" -- at least in the 17 years he has owned the team -- Brady was typical Brady in his postgame interview, as he talked about some of the plays he'd like to have back in the first half. Always the perfectionist.