Patriots prove they're best team in NFL, let alone division

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots jumped to a 17-0 first-half lead and Jets linebacker Bart Scott erupted.

He was frustrated and helpless as Tom Brady sliced up New York like fresh cantaloupe. Scott went angrily to the sideline and approached defensive assistant Bob Sutton. They started to argue.

At first, the argument was moderate. Then, it got heated. Then, it got really heated. The two men started screaming at one another, the frustrations of being embarrassed in one of the biggest NFL regular-season games ever boiling over.

Sutton next took off his headset and slammed it onto the head of Scott. As if to say: If you think you can make the defensive calls any better ... well, shut up, go ahead.

Scott jumped in Sutton's face and one of the Jets players put himself between the two men. Rex Ryan came over and further calmed down the scene.

The Jets could barely put a pinkie on the Patriots -- so they fought each other instead.

Patriots 45, Jets 3. Doubts the Patriots are the best team in football: zero.

"There's a lot of things we'd do differently," Ryan said.

Like stay home?

Well, that was interesting. We haven't seen this type of destruction in the New England area since the battle of Bunker Hill.

"This humble pie tastes like a car tire and it goes down like peanut butter," Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha said in the quote of the night.

This was a stunning and embarrassing butt kicking and an R-rated demonstration of what happens when one team, one quarterback and one head coach are all on top of their game.

It was also obviously personal as hell. The Jets beat the Patriots in the first meeting and ran their mouths. The Patriots remembered. After Tom Brady threw his first of four touchdown passes, he turned toward the Jets bench, pumped his fist and screamed. This irked a Jets lineman, Robert Turner, who was transitioning onto the field for the extra point. He got into Brady's face and the two had words.

But that didn't stop Brady from doing the exact same thing when he threw his fourth touchdown pass late in the game. Again, Brady turned and taunted the Jets bench. Also, later, up 38-3, deep inside Jets territory, Bill Belichick went for the first down on fourth-and-inches instead of kicking a field goal. The Patriots scored on that drive. The call was basically Belichick raising a certain middle digit to the Jets.

"Trust me," Ryan said, "we'll remember this."

The Patriots are likely not shaking in their cleats over that pronouncement.

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What New England did was make two distinct statements -- one minor and one major. The Jets have geared their entire existence to beating the Patriots. Ryan has embedded this sense of destiny into his team's DNA like a diabolical computer programmer.

The blowout shows that the Jets have failed in their mission. The Patriots remain king in the division, and the Jets still have a long way to go before catching them.

Nothing says you're still chasing like an epic beatdown.

The biggest statement the Patriots made was to the rest of the NFL. This Jets defense was ranked third overall in the league, 13th in passing and third against the run. It has flaws, but it's good.

Tom Brady shredded it for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Many of the Jets' complicated blitz schemes were thwarted by Brady's adjustments at the line of scrimmage. It was a clinic.

Defensively for New England, it was a similar deconstruction. Mark Sanchez reverted back to Stark Sanchez, throwing three interceptions and completing 17 of 33 passes for a passer rating of 27.8.

This is the stat that might say the most about the Jets' putrid offense: Sanchez had only two completions longer than 7 yards in the entire first half.

"We gave Sanchez a lot of different looks," Patriots defensive back James Sanders said.

When asked if he was surprised at the score, Sanders remarked, matter of factly: "I don't know if I'd say surprised. We know what kind of team we have."

That was the attitude of the entire Patriots team. Calm, understated, professional. When Brady spoke, it was like he had just beaten the Buffalo Bills in a preseason game.

That attitude -- not getting too high or too low -- is what also makes them Super Bowl favorites. The Patriots have beaten almost all of the AFC's best teams, including the Jets, Baltimore, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis.

Brady set an NFL record for most consecutive regular-season home wins as a starting quarterback with 26. The last time the Patriots lost a regular-season home game with Brady as a starter was November 2006.

There was a report Ryan was extremely concerned about Patriots espionage, even in the Jets' hotel in the New England area. So concerned, he asked his players to bring their playbooks to team meetings so potential spies couldn't steal them from the players' hotel rooms. CBSSports.com was able to confirm the story from a former Jets player who added that Ryan made a similar request of his players last year when the Jets traveled to New England.

Based on what happened Monday night, those playbooks weren't of much use, anyway.

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