Bill Kostroun | AP
New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman returns a fumble for a touchdown during their Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Jets.
Julio Cortez | AP
New England Patriots’ Stevan Ridley celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half their Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Jets.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Tom Brady couldn’t believe what happened. Neither could Bill Belichick, nor the rest of the New England Patriots, for that matter.
They were up 7-0 on the New York Jets one minute, and 28-0 the next. Literally.
Three touchdowns in 52 seconds. That was all it took to send the high-scoring Patriots to a 49-19 victory Thursday night — and put the bumbling Jets on the verge of seeing their season slip away.
“It all happened so fast,” Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “I’ve never been part of anything like that, but I’m glad that we were on the right side of it.”
Brady threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score as the Patriots (8-3) took advantage of five turnovers and used a 35-point second quarter — including the three TDs in less than a minute — to cruise past the Jets (4-7).
“That was quick,” Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “They were some of the quickest scores I’ve ever seen on any level.”
New England’s 35 second-quarter points tied for the fourth-most in a quarter in NFL history. After a scoreless opening period, the Patriots then went on a touchdown spree despite holding the ball for only 2:14 as the Jets kept giving the ball away.
“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.”
The Patriots jumped on a poor decision by Mark Sanchez, who ruined a nice drive by keying in on Jeremy Kerley on second-and-6 from the 23. Steve 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 Wes Welker’s 3-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the second quarter.
Things got out of hand in a hurry a few minutes later.
After New England recovered a fumble by Shonn Greene, Brady threw a swing pass on first down to Shane 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 after Sanchez fumbled on second down as he fell when he slammed into right guard Brandon Moore’s backside. Gregory picked up the ball and ran it 32 yards for a score to put New England up 21-0 with 9 minutes left.
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. Julian Edelman grabbed the ball out of the air and scooted 22 yards for yet another score, making it 28-0 with 8:51 remaining in the half.
“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.”
Disgusted Jets fans were chanting for Tim Tebow 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,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
New England, which beat Indianapolis 59-24 on Sunday, scored four touchdowns in just over 6 minutes, helping Belichick become the eighth coach in NFL history with 200 career victories, including the playoffs.
“There’s no coach I’d ever want to play for than him,” Brady said.
Edelman also caught a 56-yard pass for a score before leaving with a head injury, and Stevan Ridley ran for a touchdown as New England set a franchise record with 108 points in a two-game stretch.
The Patriots improved to 19-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. They were 8-0 that year and last year, and are 3-0 this season after the midway point.
Meanwhile, 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.”
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.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez returned after missing three games with a sprained ankle and had two catches for 36 yards.
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 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 on Sunday that snapped a three-game skid.
The Patriots had other plans, sweeping their AFC East rivals for the second straight season.
“We did a good job,” Vereen said, “of putting the hammer down when they were down.”
‘skins top Cowboys, 38-31
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Robert Griffin III will always be RG3. That didn’t stop Washington coach Mike Shanahan from trying something a little different after his rookie quarterback was equal parts sparkling and steady in his Texas debut.
“He’s kind of like ‘Cool Hand Luke,’” Shanahan said. “He doesn’t get too upset about anything.”
The Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor threw for three touchdowns in a dazzling second quarter, then calmly quelled a Dallas rally reminiscent of a comeback that made Cowboys vs. Redskins on Thanksgiving famous, leading Washington to a 38-31 victory Thursday.
Griffin told anyone who asked he didn’t think his first pro game in his home state on Thanksgiving would overwhelm him. He wasn’t kidding.
“I knew I had that feeling that I was back home where I had spent so many years, but it didn’t drive me through the roof emotionally as far as getting charged up for the game,” said Griffin, who grew up a Denver Broncos fan in Central Texas. “It was a normal game, even though it was a Thanksgiving Day game.”
Griffin finished with 311 passing yards and four TDs, and made Dallas look like an overmatched college team in building a 28-3 halftime lead thanks to a 28-point second quarter, the first for the Redskins (5-6) in 13 years.
After Tony Romo threw the longest touchdown of his career — an 85-yarder to Dez Bryant late in the third quarter — Griffin answered by becoming the first Redskins quarterback with four TD tosses in consecutive games.
When the Cowboys (5-6) got within a touchdown and really had people thinking back to Clint Longley’s miracle TD to Drew Pearson in the final seconds of a one-point Dallas victory over Washington on Thanksgiving in 1974, Griffin calmly led the Redskins on a clock-killing drive to a field goal for a 38-28 lead.
“Really, I have to almost pinch myself to realize that he was out there playing against Texas Tech about a year ago, and here he is really doing a number on us,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
“I was in awe of RG3, and the plays that he was making.”
Romo lost for the first time in six starts on Thanksgiving, despite a career-high 441 yards and three second-half touchdowns. After the long TD to Bryant, who matched his career high from last week with 145 yards receiving, Romo threw a TD to Felix Jones, ran in the 2-point conversion and threw another scoring pass to Bryant to help Dallas close to 35-28 with 8:24 remaining.
“I thought we had a good chance,” said Romo, who tied a career high with 62 pass attempts.
Griffin, who threw just his fourth interception the previous possession, responded by completing three passes for first downs — including a third-and-1 near midfield — and the Redskins ran nearly 5½ minutes off the clock before Kai Forbath’s 48-yard field goal with 3:03 remaining.
“I told the guys that that was probably the drive that saved our season,” Griffin said. “You have a huge lead, the other team’s roaring back, they have all the momentum, and then you go out there and you convert third down after third down after third down and get in field goal range.”
Dallas drove to a field goal with 23 seconds left, but DeAngelo Hall easily picked up the onside kick and ran untouched before sliding down short of the goal line, clinching Romo’s third loss in three career 400-yard games. It also was the Cowboys’ first loss to the Redskins in seven games on Thanksgiving.
“That quarterback is obviously a very good player, and they use him well,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t do enough offensively to keep up with them in the first half.”
The Cowboys actually contained Griffin in the first quarter, getting a sack and forcing an intentional grounding penalty that gave them good enough field position for an easy drive to a 3-0 lead.
Everything changed on Griffin’s first big NFL play in Texas. He hit Aldrick Robinson in stride for a 68-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead. Griffin’s next big throw wasn’t nearly as accurate, but Pierre Garcon somehow came down with it and outran the Dallas defense the final 45 yards on a 59-yard score for a 21-3 lead.
“As Pierre is running on his long touchdown, and I was like, ‘Man, that was a great catch.’” Griffin said. “I had to throw it to only that spot, and you don’t see many guys make catches like that.”
Romo’s first interception in four games gave the Redskins a chance to get one more score before halftime when Hall returned it to the Dallas 33 with 30 seconds left. Out of timeouts at the Dallas 6 with 10 seconds left, the Redskins trusted Griffin to try to get a touchdown, and Santana Moss kept both feet in while falling out of bounds for a 28-3 lead with 5 seconds left.
Griffin completed 12 straight passes from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the third and finished 20 of 28.
It was hard to tell from his final numbers, but the Cowboys did manage to put some pressure on Griffin. They sacked him four times, forced him to sprint out of the pocket a number of times and delivered hard hits after several throws.
The Dallas offense, playing most of the game without Miles Austin after he injured a hip early, never could answer in the decisive second quarter. The Cowboys had only two first downs while the Redskins were scoring four touchdowns.
Alfred Morris had 113 yards on 24 carries and one of Washington’s second-quarter scores.