Jets Quarterback Luke Falk Learns ‘Hard Lesson’ in First Start

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots became the third team in seven months to sour on receiver Antonio Brown and his off-field problems when they released him last week. On the field on Sunday, they did not need him to roll to an easy victory over the Jets.

Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Patriots did not allow a defensive touchdown for the third consecutive week as they dominated the Jets in a 30-14 win.

It was the Patriots’ first game since releasing receiver Antonio Brown. He was cut by the team on Friday after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct. He spent Sunday morning posting his intention to retire from the N.F.L. and calling out the Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in messages on his Twitter account.

“Obviously, it was a tough week,” safety Duron Harmon said. “A lot of media. A lot of stories. But the only thing we focused on was the Jets, and I thought it showed today.”

Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead each added a rushing touchdown for the Patriots (3-0), who won their seventh straight over the Jets, their American Football Conference rivals, and earned their ninth consecutive regular-season win at home against them.

Brown’s absence did not slow New England against a Jets team that was without its starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, who is recovering from mononucleosis; the injured linebacker C.J. Mosley; and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. They seemed lost at times on defense and struggled to move the ball offensively — going 0 for 12 on third down — against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense in quarterback Luke Falk’s first N.F.L. start.

Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman caught touchdown passes from Brady. Edelman left the game with a chest injury with about a minute to play in the first half and did not return. The Super Bowl’s most valuable player in February, Edelman caught a 3-yard pass from Brady, fell on his right side and was sandwiched by Harvey Langi and Henry Anderson. Edelman got up holding his rib area.

Brady was 28 of 42 for 306 yards and headed to the sideline with 8 minutes 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter and New England leading, 30-7. He was briefly replaced by the rookie Jarrett Stidham, who completed his first two passes before having his third intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Jamal Adams. Brady returned the next series.

Falk, who was on the practice squad a week ago, got the nod with Darnold at least a week away from returning and Trevor Siemian sidelined for the season after injuring his ankle in New York’s loss to Cleveland last Monday night.

Falk finished 12 of 22 for 98 yards and had an errant pass in the third quarter intercepted by Devin McCourty deep in the Jets’ own territory.

“It was a hard lesson to learn,” Falk said. “When playing a team like that, you can’t have errors.”

The Jets dropped to 0-3 for the first time since the 2003 season.

It was McCourty’s third consecutive game with an interception.

“We’ve just got to continue letting the ball find somebody,” he said.

Le’Veon Bell carried 18 times for just 35 yards. The Jets punted on their first six possessions and crossed into New England’s territory only once in the first half. They punted on 10 of their 13 possessions.

New York didn’t get on the scoreboard until Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt late in the third quarter and it was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Arthur Maulet.

The Patriots were also limited in the running game without James White. He missed the game to be with his expectant wife.

But New England still scored on each of its first three possessions, building a 20-0 halftime lead. Michel scored the game’s first touchdown, running it from 5 yards to cap a nine-play, 88-yard drive.

Brady and his offense then took to the air, spreading out New York’s secondary with multiple four-receiver formations. Dorsett had a 25-yard touchdown reception and Edelman caught another score from 3 yards early in the second quarter. Edelman capped the score with an emphatic spike of the ball, a throwback to the celebration of choice by the retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.


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