Tom Brady tossed a season-high four touchdowns and became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to complete 6,000 career passes as the New England Patriots clinched at least the No. 2 seed by cruising to a 38-3 victory over the visiting New York Jets on Sunday.
New England (11-5) clinched a bye for the 13th time in the Bill Belichick-Brady era since 2001 and the ninth straight season. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders later Sunday to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs and lock the Patriots in to the No. 2 seed.
Brady connected with running back James White for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter and running back Rex Burkhead for an 18-yard score early in the second. He also connected with Phillip Dorsett on a 9-yard strike in the second quarter and Julian Edelman on a 5-yard TD with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the game.
Brady reached his 6,000th career completion on a 5-yard pass to Chris Hogan with 11:40 remaining. He joined Drew Brees (6,586), Brett Favre (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,125) as the only players in NFL history to reach that milestone.
Brady completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards. He threw four touchdowns for the first time since Nov. 26, 2017 against Miami and for the 29th time in his career in the regular season.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy returned a fumble 46 yards for a score early in the third while Stephen Gostkowski booted a 38-yard field goal in the fourth as the Patriots beat the Jets for the 14th time in the last 16 meetings and improved to 30-1 in their last 31 home games against AFC East foes.
New England also recorded the 500th regular-season victory in team history.
The Jets (4-12) finished the season by losing nine of their last 10 games and likely will fire coach Todd Bowles with two years remaining on his contract. The Jets are 24-40 under Bowles, who took over in 2015 following Rex Ryan.
Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold endured his worst outing since returning from a sprained right foot three weeks ago. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 167 yards on a day when the Jets lost three fumbles.
The Jets absorbed their most lopsided loss of the season as their only points came on a 40-yard field goal by Jason Myers late in the first quarter.
Brady went 6-for-6 on the Patriots' first scoring drive, which ended with White scoring on a crossing route up the middle with 5:16 left in the first quarter. The Jets made it 7-3 on a field goal by Myers with 54 seconds left in the frame.
New England caught New York's secondary confused and took a 14-3 lead with 12:53 left in the second quarter when Brady lofted a pass to Burkhead. Ten seconds later Devin McCourty recovered a fumble by Elijah McGuire and New England took a 21-3 lead on Dorsett's TD in the back corner of the end zone with 11:03 left.
--Field Level Media