KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writers
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (CBS Connecticut and AP) — The Patriots gave away home-field advantage in the playoffs last season with back-to-back losses to the Jets and Dolphins.
This time, New England wants to control its own fate.
Tom Brady passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns , and the Patriots moved a step closer to securing home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 41-3 win over the New York Jets on Saturday.
A loss or tie by the Raiders against the Colts later Saturday would officially give New England the AFC’s top seed.
Brady said the foundation was laid for Saturday’s performance on the plane ride back after last week’s win at Denver.
“We said, ‘Look — we’re finishing strong.’ You know, the pedal to the metal,” Brady said. “Last year, we didn’t finish strong. We didn’t like the way things ended.”
Malcolm Butler added two interceptions and a fumble recovery , and LeGarrette Blount had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
New England (13-2) took advantage of New York miscues all day, scoring on three of its first four possessions.
The Jets (4-11), who have lost six of seven, had four turnovers.
It all helped make for a short day of work for Brady, who sat out the entire fourth quarter.
The only really good piece of news for the Jets came before the game, when Todd Bowles rejoined the team and coached from the sideline a day after a medical scare sent him to the hospital.
Bowles did not travel on the team plane Friday, but joined the Jets in New England on Saturday morning. The 53-year-old coach fell ill Friday afternoon and was taken to a hospital in New Jersey with what the team called an “undisclosed illness.”
But injuries for New York continue to pile up.
For the second straight week, Jets quarterback Bryce Petty’s day ended early when he went to the sideline in the first quarter with a left shoulder injury.
He was replaced by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it did little to improve New York’s fortunes on offense.
For the game, the Jets finished with 239 total yards and were 1 for 11 on third down. Petty was 0 for 3 passing before his injury with an interception. Fitzpatrick finished 8 for 21 for 136 yards and two interceptions. Receiver Brandon Marshall also left the game in the third quarter with a left hip injury.
New England turned each of New York’s three first-half turnovers into points.
First, Butler picked off a pass from Petty to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass by Brady to Martellus Bennett that put the Patriots up 10-0.
A few series later, Butler was there again to pounce on Khiry Robinson’s fumble, which set up a 22-yard by Stephen Gostkowski.
Then, after Fitzpatrick had come on to replace Petty, his second drive started with a deep pass along the sideline intended for Marshall that was intercepted by Eric Rowe.
That was followed by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Matt Lengel, who made his first NFL reception.
“We got beat today. We got embarrassed. … But there aren’t any quitters in this locker room.” — Fitzpatrick on his team’s effort.
Brady marked yet another career milestone with 50 career games with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. … With his 22-yard field goal in the second quarter, Gostkowski notched his 300th career field goal. He is the 30th player to reach the 300-field goal mark.
The New England Patriots don’t seem to be having any trouble filling in for tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Lengel was an undrafted free agent who spent last season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. The Patriots signed him last month when Gronkowski was injured. Gronkowski returned to play in two more games before having season-ending back surgery.
With the All-Pro tight end out, the Patriots have relied mostly on Martellus Bennett, who had 52 catches and six touchdowns, including one score against the Jets.
Jets: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins left with a hamstring injury in the first half and also did not return. DL Leonard Williams exited in the third quarter with a chest injury, but returned. Robinson left with a leg injury after being active for the first time this season.
Jets: Wrap up their season at home against the Bills on Jan. 1.
Patriots: Conclude their regular-season schedule at Miami on New Year’s Day.
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