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Patriots Continue to Roll

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl the hard way last season. This season, they're making things look easy.

The Patriots smothered the New York Jets, 44-7, Sunday as Tebucky Jones and Victor Green scored touchdowns on defense and Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes for an offense that totally controlled the ball until it didn't matter any more.

Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals of 28, 31 and 40 yards as the Patriots won their eighth consecutive regular-season game, and 11th in a row overall counting two playoff games and the Super Bowl.

"They're a great team," Jet cornerback Donnie Abraham said. "They really are and I think people have to start giving them credit. They don't look like they're feeling the pressure of being the defending Super Bowl champions. To me, it looks like they're having fun defending their title."

New England linebacker Mike Vrabel said the team's talent is clear to see.

"The biggest thing for us, and it really showed today, is our depth," Vrabel said. "We have a lot of good players, a lot of personnel. It's hard to prepare for that. We're just a lot better team than people give us credit for."

Who can argue with that?

This was the second consecutive week the Patriots were an underdog against a team that was supposed to be a contender. They beat Pittsburgh, 30-14, last Monday night in a game between the teams that played in last season's AFC title game.

It also was a dramatically different second game of the season than last season, when the Jets knocked out Drew Bledsoe with a chest injury, paving the way for Brady to take over and lead New England from 0-2 to the Super Bowl title.

The Patriots led only 10-0 at halftime. But on the first series of the second half, Jones blitzed from his free safety spot and stripped Jet quarterback Vinny Testaverde of the ball, recovered the fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-0.

The Jets went three and out and the Patriots ground out a 65-yard, 12-play drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by Vinatieri.

The Jets finally scored late in the third quarter on Testaverde's 11-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Becht.

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