FOXBORO, Mass. — Some leftover notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 38-3 demolition of the New York Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium:
— After struggling over the previous two-and-a-half games and posting one of the worst stat lines of his career in last week’s win over the Buffalo Bills, Tom Brady enjoyed a strong bounce-back performance against the rival Jets.
Facing a New York team that was playing without its top two cornerbacks, the Patriots quarterback completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards and a season-high four touchdowns with no interceptions before giving way to backup Brian Hoyer in the final minutes.
“(There were) certainly things we could do better,” Brady said, “But good to win, 38-3, division opponent the second time around. Just a great win. We needed it, and I’m glad we got it.”
Brady completed passes to seven different receivers and fired touchdown strikes to four: running backs Rex Burkhead and James White and wide receivers Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman. His touchdowns to Burkhead (an over-the-shoulder dime) and Dorsett (an on-the-run laser off a scramble drill) were particularly impressive.
“I mean, to be a good offense, everyone’s got to touch it,” Brady said. “Everyone’s got to be involved in the offense and run it, throw it, throw it to everybody — the receivers, the backs, the tight ends. Everyone blocks in our offense, and that’s what makes it tough to defend. If they’ve got to defend everything, I feel pretty good about where we’re at.
“If they don’t have to worry about something, it makes it pretty tough on everyone else. I’m glad we were able to score the points we did today. We’re going to need more of that in a couple weeks.”
Brady did have a few inaccurate moments — his overthrow of a wide-open Chris Hogan in the end zone chief among them — but overall, the success of the Patriots’ passing game should serve as a major confidence-booster entering the postseason.
“We threw the ball well,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “Not perfectly, but well.”
— Brady attempted 22 passes in the first half Sunday after throwing just 24 times against the Bills. The running game — the driving force of New England’s offense last week — took center stage late after New England had built an insurmountable lead.
The Patriots ran the ball on seven consecutive snaps during a 10-play fourth-quarter drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Edelman.
Running back Sony Michel carried the ball 14 times for 50 yards to finish his rookie season with 931 rushing yards in 13 games.
“It’s something that I can work off of,” Michel said. “It can kind of give me an overlook on how much work I’ve put in. Just like Coach says, what you give is what you deserve. There’s so much more yards out there on the field, but I’m just excited that we’re in the position that we’re in right now.”
— Defensive end Derek Rivers returned to the lineup for New England after six consecutive healthy scratches, and he recorded the first sack of his two-year NFL career.
“I’m just excited,” Rivers said after the game. “It’s a blessing to be out there with the guys again.”
After his sack, which came on the final play of the first half, Rivers was mobbed by fellow second-year pros Deatrich Wise and Adam Butler.
“He came around, and I was not about to let that center come off and get him,” Butler said. “You know, because that’s my guy, and you know I have to look after my guy. So I’m proud of him and I’m glad for him.”
“They’re my boys,” Rivers added. “It’s all love for one another. We all get excited and encourage one another whenever we make a play.”
Rivers got the nod over Adrian Clayborn and Keionta Davis, both of whom were inactive. Clayborn, the Patriots’ marquee free agent acquisition this past offseason, has been a healthy scratch in each of the last two games.
— Left guard Joe Thuney played every offensive snap this season for the Patriots, making him the first New England player since Brady and center Ryan Wendell in 2013 to do so.
— Cordarrelle Patterson missed the game with a knee injury, snapping a streak of 96 consecutive appearances (including playoffs) for the versatile wide receiver. Patterson had played in every possible game since entering the NFL in 2013.
— Safety Devin McCourty, who’d played 98.9 percent of defensive snaps entering Sunday, exited the game with a head injury during the third quarter. The playoff bye comes at a good time for him.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images