FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots became the third team in seven months to sour on Antonio Brown’s off-field problems when they released the All-Pro receiver Friday. On the field, they didn’t need him to roll to an easy victory over the New York Jets.
Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Patriots didn’t allow a defensive touchdown for the third straight week as they dominated in a 30-14 win Sunday.
It was the Patriots’ first game since Brown was cut after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Obviously, it was a tough week,” safety Duron Harmon said. “A lot of media. A lot of stories. But the only thing we focused on was the Jets and I thought it showed today.”
Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead each added a rushing touchdown for the Patriots (3-0), who won their seventh straight over the Jets and earned their ninth consecutive regular-season win at home over their AFC East rival.
Brown’s absence didn’t slow New England against a Jets team that was without starting quarterback Sam Darnold, still recovering from mononucleosis, and injured linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. They seemed lost at times on defense and struggled to move the ball offensively — going 0 for 12 on third down — against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense in quarterback Luke Falk’s first NFL start.
Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman caught TD passes from Brady. But, Edelman left the game with about a minute to play in the quarter with a chest injury and didn’t return. The Super Bowl MVP in February caught a 3-yard pass from Brady, fell on his right side and was sandwiched by Harvey Langi and Henry Anderson. Edelman got up holding his rib area.
Brady was 28 of 42 for 306 yards and headed to the sideline with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter and New England leading 30-7. He was briefly replaced by rookie Jarrett Stidham, who completed his first two passes before having his third intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Jamal Adams. Brady returned the following series.
Falk, who was on the practice squad a week ago, got the nod with Darnold still at least a week away from returning and Trevor Siemian sidelined for the season after injuring his ankle in New York’s loss to Cleveland last Monday night.
Falk finished 12 of 22 for 98 yards and had an errant pass in the third quarter intercepted by Devin McCourty deep in the Jets own territory.
“It was a hard lesson to learn,” Falk said. “When playing a team like that, you can’t have errors.”
The Jets dropped to 0-3 for the first time since the 2003 season.
It was McCourty’s third straight game with an interception.
“We’ve just got to continue letting the ball find somebody,” McCourty said.
Le’Veon Bell carried 18 times for just 35 yards. The Jets punted on their first six possessions and only crossed into New England’s territory once in the first half. They punted on 10 of their 13 possessions.
New York didn’t get on the scoreboard until Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt late in the third quarter and it was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Arthur Maulet.
The Patriots were also limited in the run game without running back James White. He missed the game to be with his expectant wife.
But New England still scored on each of its first three possessions, building a 20-0 halftime lead.
Michel scored the game’s first touchdown, running it from 5 yards out to cap a 9-play, 88-yard drive.
Brady and offense then took to the air, spreading out New York’s secondary with multiple four-receiver formations. Dorsett had a 25-yard TD reception and Edelman caught another score from 3 yards out early in the second quarter. Edelman capped the score with an emphatic spike of the ball , a throwback to the celebration of choice by retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots are the first team in the Super Bowl Era that hasn’t allowed rushing or passing TD in their first three games.
With his touchdown throw to Dorsett in the first quarter, Brady passed Drew Brees for second place on the NFL’s career list for touchdown passes.
It was Brady’s 523rd TD pass. Peyton Manning is first with 539.
Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who played only four snaps in New York’s loss to Cleveland last week, saw a little more action against the Patriots.
Nate Hairston started the game, but Johnson subbed in early in the first quarter. He finished with three tackles.
Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal last year, entered the season as the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback.