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Visitors were grounded from the start

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By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / December 7, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — The Jets are frauds.


That much we learned in the Patriots’ 45-3 epic beatdown of their neighbors to the south last night at Gillette Stadium.

New York’s coach might generate better copy. The Jets might have higher-priced talent with bigger accolades. They might have had their own television show on premium cable.

But the Patriots will have the AFC East title again.

The Jets like to talk about winning the Super Bowl.

The Patriots actually do it. On the field. When it counts.

What a novel concept.

Rex Ryan owned a 2-1 record against Bill Belichick coming into the game. The Jets had their way with the Patriots in Week 2.

But when there was something on the line — the division and home-field advantage in the playoffs — the Jets produced a colossal organizational choke job, from the head man all the way on down.

“I came in to kick his butt and he kicked mine,’’ a somewhat humbled Ryan said after the game. “Obviously we got outcoached, got outplayed, got our butt kicked. I don’t know what else you can say about it.’’

Oh, there’s a few things. Let us count the ways.

It all started on the wrong foot for the Jets because offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer got cocky. The Jets are built around their defense with a clock-killing, physical rushing attack on offense. Instead the Jets ran their first five plays out of the shotgun.

The sin wasn’t the plan — the Patriots were definitely thrown a little bit by the different tempo — but putting the game in the hands of Mark Sanchez.

No matter how much the Jets want to plaster him in big lights on Broadway, Sanchez is a mere ensemble character, not a matinee idol.

He was confused, indecisive, and inaccurate.

And that was just in the first half.

The Jets’ first two possessions of the second half ended on Sanchez interceptions. Three of his first six passes after halftime were picked off.

“Turning the ball over three times by the quarterback that’s not the way we can win. We know that. I know that,’’ Sanchez said. “Now it’s time for me to get better.’’

When the Jets ran the ball on four of their first five plays of their third possession of the game, they produced a 46-yard scoring drive.

Jets fans at home were probably thinking, “Why didn’t we do that from the beginning?’’

Because the offensive coordinator and head coach got cute, that’s why.

“There’s a lot of things we’d do differently,’’ Ryan said.

Speaking of Ryan, there was the questionable decision-making in the first quarter when he challenged a spot — and lost — to set up a fourth down he went for (and got) in any event.

Ryan didn’t challenge an iffy touchdown reception by Brandon Tate in the second quarter. The score put the Patriots up, 24-7.

If you’re going to challenge a spot on your opening drive, wouldn’t it be wise to challenge a touchdown that basically put the game out of reach?

New York’s special teams were terrible. Nick Folk missed a 53-yard field goal. Punter Steve Weatherford shanked one so badly (12 yards) Judge Smails from “Caddyshack’’ was offended.

Thanks to the great field position, the Patriots pounded in their first two touchdowns.

And that brings us to the Jets defense, Ryan’s pride and joy. Surely he could count on that unit since he “has Tom Brady’s number.’’ Or so we were told.

Without safety Jim Leonhard, the Jets were completely lost in the secondary even with cornerback Darrelle Revis at full strength.

Leonhard’s replacement, Eric Smith, committed a no-brainer pass interference penalty on tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone to set up the Patriots’ first touchdown.

Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine made the mistake of putting cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who is 6 feet 2 inches and has long arms, on 5-9 receiver Deion Branch.

Branch toasted Cromartie off the line with his quickness on back-to-back passes of 19 and 25 yards late in the first quarter. The latter play was for a touchdown when Cromartie missed a tackle.

He had two of those.

Cromartie also gave up Tate’s touchdown when he got caught peeking at what Brady was doing.

Someone also thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop 305-pound end Mike DeVito into a fire zone to cover 195-pound Danny Woodhead. That play went for 35 yards in the second quarter.

The score at halftime was 24-3.

What an embarrassment.

And it only got worse in the second half as the Patriots scored on their first three possessions with drives of 93, 94, and 28 yards.

Oh, and we almost forgot that Woodhead — who was cut by the Jets — had 115 total yards in the game. Sanchez had 117 in the first three quarters.

Coaching. Offense. Special teams. Defense.

The Jets were pummeled in all of those categories last night.

You’d think it would almost be enough to shut Ryan up and concede the Patriots are clearly the better team.

It wasn’t.

“We know that this division goes through New England and we thought we were going to put a stranglehold on it because we would have been a full game up on them with the tiebreaker,’’ Ryan said. “Right now we’ve pushed. We’ve won one, they’ve won one.

“Let’s face it, we kicked their butt at our place so they’re trying to come back. Trust me, we’ll remember this. There’s no question about that.’’

Ryan can have all the Week 2 victories he wants. The Patriots won the one that counted. That’s why he’ll remember it. It’s why we’ll all remember it.

And it’s why, until Ryan and his team prove otherwise, no one will remember them.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @greg_a_bedard.

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