FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was not about a bounce here or there, an officiating call here or there, a coach's decision here or there.
What transpired Monday night in Gillette Stadium was unequivocal.
The Patriots obliterated New York 45-3, the worst loss of the Rex Ryan era and the fifth-largest blowout in Patriots history.
And these teams were supposed to be equals. Each had a 9-2 record, knew control of the AFC East and probably the entire conference was at stake and had 10 days to prepare.
Jets coach Rex Ryan announced a week earlier he "came here to kick Bill Belichick's ass." After Belichick ransacked Ryan's team, the Jets' bravado was muted.
"We know that this division goes through New England," Ryan said, "and we thought we were going to put a stranglehold on it."
The Patriots piled up 405 yards on the Jets' vaunted defense. The Jets' offense was impotent against a defense with a poor track record. The Jets' special teams were woeful. Ryan made coaching blunders. His players seemed mentally overmatched. The Patriots were sharp like a sickle.
The Jets simply weren't in the Patriots' league.
"I've seen a lot of crazy stuff in the NFL," Jets right tackle Damien Woody said. "I never envisioned coming in here and having this happen."
The Patriots proved they're the NFL's best team. The Jets showed they were a fraction of that, failing to compete from the opening kickoff and falling behind 17-0 with a minute left in the first quarter.
"This," said Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, "was a good-old fashioned butt kicking."
The Jets have beaten one team with a winning record -- the Patriots in Week 2. In their three other games against teams over .500, the Jets haven't produced a touchdown and have been outscored 64-12.
Had the Jets won Monday night, you better believe they would've declared themselves the team to beat.
The Patriots, while they earned that privilege, did the opposite. They emphasized the mistakes they made. They noted they didn't play that elusive infallible game.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stormed into the locker room at halftime and shrieked at his teammates about a lackadaisical couple drives. The Patriots were ahead 24-3.
"It wasn't perfect out there," Brady said in his postgame news conference. "I think there were a few plays we can definitely do better on. Communication within the whole offense needs to continue to improve. But, all in all, it was a fun night."
Brady, in fact, did record a perfect 158.3 passer rating against the Detroit Lions in his previous game. Versus the Jets he notched a mere 148.9 rating. He completed 21 of his 29 attempts for 326 yards and four touchdowns to four different targets with zero interceptions.
The Patriots' defense played its best game of the year. The Pats went in ranked 32nd in total defense, 32nd in pass defense and 32nd in third-down efficiency. They'd allowed fewer than 18 points once.
The Jets exploited nothing. Their offense was negligible despite 152 rushing yards. Sanchez completed barely half his passes and short-circuited some drives with three interceptions.
The Jets certainly expected to win Monday night. Should the lopsided result be chalked up to underestimating the Patriots or overestimating themselves?
"You know, that's a great question," Woody replied, staring off to the ceiling tiles. "They're a really good team. No question about it. But we played terrible. When you play against a really good team that's humming on offense, and you don't play well in any phase of the game, this type of stuff can happen to you."
There were two recurring thoughts in the Jets' locker room: 1) They must turn the page and concentrate on the Miami Dolphins on a short week of preparation; 2) They might get the chance at a trilogy with the Patriots.
Whether the latter is something to wish for is hard to say.
"They're not going to feel sorry for us, and we don't want anybody to feel sorry for us," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said. "We'll take our medicine, and we deserve whatever comments are written about us of who we are and what we are. We got big shoulders. We'll take it, and we'll move forward. I'm not flinching. We still got a lot to play for."