By: Ian Logue/
September 15, 2002

Patriots notebook: Dont'a Hightower plays complete game
Keegan: Defense climbs ladder
Patriots stuff Vikings
Tom Brady runs to grand milestone
Down-by-down Patriots game recap

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Who knew the Patriots could make a Superbowl title defense look so easy?

That's been the case during the first two games after New England routed the Jets 44-7 in the Meadowlands on Sunday.  The Patriots held the ball for over 20-minutes in the first half, outgaining New York 257-48 in total yards.   The Jets also failed to capitalize on two New England turnovers, and found themselves down 10-0 at halftime.

But in the second half the Patriots outscored New York 34-7, with New England holding the ball for over 11-minutes in the final quarter of play, sending home the majority of the 78,000 fans who spent a rainy afternoon watching their team get embarrassed.  The victory improved the Patriots to 2-0 on the 2002 season, and was their 8th straight regular season victory dating back to last year.

Tom Brady once again led the way, finishing 25-of-35 for 269-yards passing and two touchdowns.  He directed the Patriots offense flawlessly with the exception of one errant pass that went off rookie receiver Deion Branch's hands and was intercepted by the Jets.  The interception eventually proved harmless and was the only blemish on an otherwise solid afternoon for Brady.

The trouncing was certainly well balanced.  New England ran 75-plays, 35 of the Patriots plays were through the air, with the other 40 coming on the ground.  No matter which play they ran New York showed no signs of being able to stop them, and when the final whistle was blown New England had racked up 432-yards in total offense and walked off the field with the victory.

The Patriots first three possessions certainly didn't show any signs of what was to come for the New England offense.  They punted after just four plays on their first possession, and on their first play from scrimmage on their second possession Brady attempted to hit Deion Branch on a slant pattern, but the ball went off his hands up to his helmet where it spun around and eventually fell into the hands of Jets linebacker James Darling.

On their next possession the Patriots ran 10-plays and ate up over 6-minutes on the clock before Tom Brady completed a 26-yard pass to Troy Brown, and Brown coughed up the football after Sam Garnes hit him on his way to the endzone and the Jets recovered at their own 2-yard line, ending a potential scoring threat for New England.

After a play action fake on an end around where Brady faked a reverse and hit David Patten down field for a 39-yard gain, the Patriots found themselves with first and goal from the Jets 4-yard line.  Two plays later Brady found tight end Cam Cleeland from 1-yard out to give them a 7-0 lead with 8:48 remaining in the first half.

About two minutes later the Patriots got the ball back and wouldn't let go, holding it for the final 6-minutes of the first half and keeping Vinny Testaverde and the Jets offense off the field.  The drive eventually culminated in a 28-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri to increase their lead to 10-0 at halftime.

In the second half it was all New England, with safety Tebucky Jones taking it to the Jets on their first possession and causing Vinny Tesdaverde to fumble the ball after hitting him on a blitz.  Jones picked up the ball and scampered 24-yards for the score to increase the Patriots lead to 17-0.

After forcing a 3-and-out by the Jets on their next possession, the Patriots then put together a 12-play, 65-yard drive that ended in a field goal but even more importantly ate up another 6-minutes on the clock and kept Testeverde and the Jets offense off the field.

When they finally did come back they got all the way to New England's 18-yard line when Pats safety Victor Green intercepted a pass and then ran 90-yards the other way to give the Patriots a 27-10 lead

Undaunted the Jets put together a 4-play 69-yard touchdown drive that ended on a pass to tight end Anthony Becht in the endzone for a score, and for the first time all afternoon the Jets showed a glimmer of hope that they could fight and claw their way back into the game.

It never happened.

The Patriots put together an 8-play 75-yard drive that ended on a 49-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch and increased their already big lead to 34-7, and on their next possession New England held the Jets on a 4th-down attempt which lead to a 40-yard field goal by Vinatieri to make the score 37-7.

The nail in the coffin came on the Patriots final drive of the game when back-up Damon Huard came into the game and lead them to their final touchdown, this time from runningback Kevin Faulk who spent last week on the inactive list.  Faulk took it in from 2-yards out, and put the final exclamation on what has to be considered a masterful performance the entire team.

The Patriots will now return home to take on the Chiefs next Sunday in Foxboro.