EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When ESPN's Randy Moss asked New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady what had been the primary reason for the team's undefeated record entering Monday night's game against the New York Jets, Brady didn't hesitate. "It's one word: defense," he said.
Brady told Moss that he had been frustrated that the offense hadn't been able to reach that level -- a personnel shortage/deficiency has been a big part of it -- but the unit took a decisive step forward in the first half of a 33-0 victory against the Jets.
A 16-play touchdown drive after receiving the opening kickoff set the tone for the game. It was the longest opening drive in the NFL this season and the Patriots' longest touchdown march since Week 10 of the 2017 season (at Denver, 16 plays), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The offense in the first half was efficient, controlled the ball and, besides a few drops, played mistake-free football, which is a good formula to complement arguably the most dominant defense in the NFL. The offense sputtered in the second half, and Brady's frustration showed at times, but by that point, the sizzling start had created enough cushion that the game was never in doubt.
Describe the game in two words: Complete domination. The Patriots led 17-0 after the first quarter and 24-0 at halftime. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it marked the first time the Patriots had a 24-point lead in the first half of a road game since 2012 Week 12 at the Jets -- the infamous butt fumble game.
Buying a breakout performance: The Patriots' defense continues to sizzle (six turnovers and a safety), and this time it was against a good quarterback in Sam Darnold, who helped lead the Jets to a win against the Dallas Cowboys the week before. ESPN's microphones picked up Darnold saying on the sideline, "I'm seeing ghosts." That's the highest compliment for any defense.
Eye-popping NextGen Stat: The Patriots had three straight rushes from the 1-yard line in the second quarter, scoring on the third, and here's the personnel they used on those plays to account for a shortage at fullback with James Develin and Jakob Johnson on injured reserve:
First down: 6 OL, 1 LB, 2 TE, 1 RB
Second down: 6 OL, 1 LB, 2 TE, 1 RB
Third down: 7 OL, 2 TE, 1 RB
Bold prediction for next week: The Patriots will aggressively pursue a veteran pass-catcher before the Oct. 29 trade deadline, with Denver's Emmanuel Sanders and Atlanta's Mohamed Sanu two players (if available) who would provide an added layer on the depth chart in the event of injuries to Josh Gordon (knee), Julian Edelman (chest/ribs) and Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), the top three on the depth chart who have all been on the injury report in recent weeks.