FOXBORO, Mass. — If franchise and NFL records were Christmas presents, the New England Patriots would have a couple more to put under the tree Saturday.
The Patriots bulldozed the New York Jets on Christmas Eve en route to a 41-3 blowout win at Gillette Stadium. The victory ensured their first 13-win season since 2011, but it also produced notable milestones for head coach Bill Belichick and running back LeGarrette Blount.
Belichick earned his 200th regular season win with the Patriots, becoming just the fifth NFL head coach to record 200 or more wins with one team. The men ahead of him are a who’s who of coaching greats: George Halas (318 wins), Don Shula (257), Tom Landry (250) and Curly Lambeau (209).
Belichick, who now has a 200-71 record in 17 seasons with New England, deflected praise to his staff and players after the game.
“We’ve got a good staff,” Belichick told reporters. “We’ve got a lot of good coaches on this staff. They do a great job and we’ve got a lot of good players. Players win games. I’ve been fortunate to have coached a lot of good ones.”
One of those players Saturday was Blount, who rushed 20 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns. The veteran running back now has 17 touchdowns this season, tying him with Curtis Martin (14 rushing touchdowns, three receiving in 1996) for the third-most TDs in a single Patriots season.
Only Randy Moss (23 touchdowns in 2007) and Rob Gronkowski (18 touchdowns in 2011) rank ahead of Blount, whose 17 rushing TDs are the most in the NFL this season. Like Belichick, Blount chose to direct praise for his accomplishment elsewhere.
“It feels amazing,” Blount told reporters after the game. “The offensive line has been doing an amazing job all season. You can’t say enough about how much they’ve done to get us this far. Our tight ends, our wide receivers, (fullback James Develin) anchoring the whole thing — Develin’s been a huge piece for us — and we’re going to need them to continue to play like that for us to be successful.”
More from the Patriots’ Christmas Eve rout of the Jets:
— Matt Lengel got a nice present Saturday in the form of his first NFL catch, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. It was a pretty cool moment for the 25-year-old, whose family traveled all the way from Seattle to watch him play.
“I feel like when you’re in the moment, things are a lot slower,” Lengel said of his touchdown grab. “It’s not until after where you kind of enjoy it. But, I turned and saw the ball and tried to revert back to everything I’ve learned and ever known since second grade playing football. Just catch the ball, secure it, and make the catch.”
— Speaking of family, Brady admitted a “big Brazilian contingent” was at Gillette Stadium watching him play Saturday. (Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, is Brazilian.)
The Patriots QB pointed to that group in the stands after throwing his first of three touchdown passes, a five-yard strike to Martellus Bennett.
— New England defensive tackle Malcom Brown didn’t see the field until the fourth quarter and played just 16 defensive snaps all game. It was an odd development, considering Brown has been a solid contributor all season and played well in the team’s Monday night win over the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago.
Belichick was asked about Brown’s lack of playing time after the game and responded simply:
“All of the decisions are coaching decisions.”
— The Patriots’ defense did just fine without Brown, however. New England’s win coupled with its 16-3 victory over the Denver Broncos last Sunday marks the first time in the Belichick era the Patriots have gone two consecutive games without allowing a touchdown.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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