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By Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange November 23, 2012 1:00 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A couple hours after it happened, Rex Ryan was still in disbelief. "Thirty-five points in a quarter, I thought that was impossible to do," Ryan said. But the New England Patriots are pretty good at making the near-impossible into a commonplace event. The Patriots tied a franchise record by scoring 35 points in the second quarter -- a stretch in which they scored a touchdown in all three facets of the game in a 52-second span -- and inched closer to another record-tying feat in a 49-19 rout of the New York Jets Thursday night at a rapidly emptying MetLife Stadium. The Patriots (8-3) won their fifth in a row, a streak in which they have scored 219 points, and moved closer to locking up the AFC East for the ninth time in 10 years. That would tie the San Francisco 49ers (NFC West from 1986 through 1995) for the most division championships over a decade-long stretch. The Patriots have scored 108 points alone in their last two wins, the third-most all-time. "We got contributions from everybody," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after his team scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams for the second consecutive game. "Another touchdown on special teams, turned the ball over on defense and converted them on offense." The win was also the 200th all-time for Belichick, who is the eighth NFL coach to reach the mark. The Jets (4-7) committed five turnovers, all of which the Patriots turned into touchdowns, in losing for the fourth time in their last five games as their playoff hopes were all but extinguished. Only the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars recovered from a 4-7 start to reach the postseason. Tom Brady was 18-of-28 for 323 yards and three touchdowns. But the real star for the Patriots was safety Steve Gregory, who set up New England's first two touchdowns with an interception and a fumble recovery. And he returned a fumble 32 yards for the Patriots' third score as the Patriots quickly turned a scoreless game into a rout in the second quarter. "It doesn't take a lot to score a lot of points in this league quickly," Belichick said. "Turnovers and defensive returns or special teams returns, it can add up in a hurry." After failing to score in the first quarter for the first time all year, the Patriots wasted no time beginning the rout as Brady tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker on the first play of the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by Gregory's interception of Mark Sanchez at the Patriots' 15-yard-line. On their next series, the Jets went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Patriots' 31, but Shonn Greene had the ball punched out as he wrestled for the yardage and Gregory recovered it about 15 yards down the field. On the next play, Brady threw to a wide-open Shane Vereen in the flat and Vereen raced untouched 83 yards down the left sideline. The Jets appeared to bottom out on the second play of their next possession, when Sanchez ran into the backside of guard Brandon Moore on a scramble and lost the ball, which Gregory picked up and returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Amazingly, things got even worse on the ensuing kickoff, which Joe McKnight fumbled and Julian Edelman returned 22 yards to put the Patriots up 28-0. "Scoring plays on defense and special teams, those are huge anytime you get one of those, and we got two of them," Brady said. The Patriots extended the lead to 35-0 on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Edelman. The Patriots also scored 35 points in the second quarter against the Titans on Oct. 18, 2009. Sanchez was 26-of-36 for 301 yards and a touchdown for the Jets, who got within 35-12 in the third thanks to a safety and a 4-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell before the Patriots opened the fourth quarter with 14 straight points. "That team is a good enough team, you don't have to help them, and we did both -- we helped them and they clearly outplayed us," Ryan said. NOTES: Jets quarterback Tim Tebow did not play. He told USA Today Sports after the game that he had two fractured ribs. ... Edelman and Jets wide receiver Clyde Gates each left and did not return with head injuries. ... The Jets, whose active roster was at just 50 players following the release of Marcus Dowtin and Jason Hill earlier this week, signed wide receiver Jordan White and cornerbacks Darrin Walls and Donnie Fletcher from their practice squad prior to the game. ... The Patriots activated lineman Markus Zusevics from the non-football injury list and waived wide receiver Greg Salas. ... The Jets and Patriots were each playing on Thanksgiving for the fifth time since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. The Jets also played on Thanksgiving three times as a member of the AFL. ... The Jets honored 100 Hurricane Sandy first responders during pre-game ceremonies.