The New York Jets ended a five-game losing streak and, not surprisingly, it was the New England Patriots that helped them do it.
Freeman McNeil rushed for two touchdowns and Ken O’Brien passed for two more Sunday as the Jets routed the Patriots, 42-7.
The Patriots (1-14), who have lost a team-record 13 consecutive games, clinched the top pick in next spring’s draft. A loss next week against the NFC East-champion New York Giants would make this Patriot team the worst in franchise history.
“I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to give a speech,” Patriot Coach Rod Rust said. “We just didn’t get the job done.
“Part of it was them. But, that aside, clearly everyone did not play well.”
Shedding their recently inept offensive ways, the Jets (5-10) put together three impressive drives in each half against the NFL’s worst defense.
“We’ve been going through growing pains,” McNeil said, “and to have a game like this after such a long drought is a real boost.
“We know how it feels to win again and we can carry that feeling. I look ahead and see great things happening here in the future.”
O’Brien, who completed 11 of 12 passes for 210 yards, connected with rookies Rob Moore and Blair Thomas on touchdown pass plays of two and six yards.
The Jets also displayed a strong rushing attack among four players, with McNeil scoring on runs of one and nine yards.
Thomas rushed for 88 yards, Brad Baxter gained 61, Johnny Hector had 45, and McNeil 36.
“Anyone could have run through the holes today,” Baxter said. “It was our best-balanced attack all year.”
Hector capped an 80-yard drive with a seven-yard run to give the Jets a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots tied the score on a 24-yard pass from Marc Wilson to Irving Fryar that capped a 64-yard drive. Starting quarterback Tommy Hodson sprained his left ankle on the fourth play of the drive and Wilson came on and connected with Michael Timpson for 14 yards on his first play.
The Jets came back with a 73-yard drive that Moore finished with a two-yard touchdown reception. McNeil had the big play, gaining 39 yards with a screen pass.
A 46-yard flea-flicker pass from O’Brien to Chris Burkett highlighted the Jets’ next drive, which covered 76 yards and was capped by McNeil’s nine-yard run.
The onslaught continued in the third quarter as a 55-yard drive ended with McNeil’s one-yard touchdown.
John Stephens gained 44 yards in 11 carries for the Patriots.