FOXBOROUGH — The four F-15s roared over Gillette Stadium just as Michelle Brooks-Thompson was hitting the final notes of a rousing edition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” Sunday afternoon.
As it turned out, the pilots from the 104th Fighter Wing out of the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield were the only jets to make any real noise on the day.
The New York Jets? They were stuck in a holding pattern somewhere over the clear blue New England sky.
The Tom Brady-piloted Patriots ran their record to 3-0 with a 30-14 win over the beaten-down Jets.
It wasn’t all perfect for the New Englanders, who lost Julian Edelman (ribs), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), and Adam Butler (foot) to injuries. Edelman’s X-rays were negative, according to an NFL Media report, but there was no update on Hightower. Butler was moving just fine in the locker room after the game.
The Patriots defense put on another sterling performance and still hasn’t allowed a touchdown this season.
The Jets collected a measly 105 total net yards as New England grounded quarterback Luke Falk (12 of 22 for 98 yards) and bottled up Le’Veon Bell (18 carries, 35 yards).
Adam Gase’s Gang Green was 0 for 12 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down.
“Pretty damned good,’’ was Jamie Collins’s assessment when reminded of just how stingy the defense has been.
Collins spearheaded the charge with 7 tackles, 3 for a loss, 2 sacks, and a pass batted down that he nearly picked off.
“We got 10 other great guys out there around me,’’ said Collins. “They played pretty good themselves, so they just make my job a little easier . . . All those guys can make a play at any time.’’
The offense wasn’t too shabby, either. Brady threw for 306 yards and a pair of TDs, spreading the ball around to seven targets.
Here are some other observations as the Patriots will now shuffle off to face another undefeated team: The Buffalo Bills.
Fast and furious.
The Patriots scored on their first three possessions to race to a 20-0 lead, but things started to slow after Edelman was hurt right before the half.
Edelman had seven catches for 62 yards and was consistently finding holes in the middle of the field. Those gains were hard to come by in the second half. “Just a lot of things,’’ said Brady when asked why the offense sputtered. “I’ve got to see the film.’’
Another strong game for Danny Shelton, who has shed some weight and added some quickness this season. He finished with six tackles but more importantly was moving bodies and clearing space for his teammates to get at Falk and Bell. He was a force at the point of attack.
“We definitely try to feed off each other,’’ said Shelton. “We have a lot of great players on this team and when we are able to communicate and execute our jobs, it makes our job easier and way more fun.’’
Jakobi Meyers saw his snaps increase when Edelman went down as the rookie played most of the second half. He had two catches for 38 yards, including a 20-yarder from Brady.
If Edelman has to miss time, Meyers, who was at the head of the class all summer, will be at the head of the line.
“Knowing that I can build that trust with Tom and knowing that I can make plays when they need me . . . I’m proud but I’m not satisfied but it’s some momentum to build there,’’ said Meyers.
Josh Gordon twice had to leave because of minor injuries, first when he landed hard on his back and later when his fingers got jammed while committing a facemask penalty. He perserv-ered, however, and made two outstanding catches, the best an acrobatic toe-tapper inside the 5-yard line in the second half.
“Nobody likes to get banged up or have to come out of the game, but it’s just the reality of it,’’ said Gordon. “I think the more important part is just how many times can you get knocked down and come back?’’
Ryan Izzo had one catch, but it was a dandy. The Patriots’ only healthy tight end did an excellent job selling the run before leaking out into the flat where nobody saw the 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pounder.
“I was a little surprised [at how open I was],’’ said Izzo. “I haven’t been in the open field in a while, so it felt good.’’
He caught Brady’s pass and went off to the races. It brought back memories of Rob Gronk-owski galloped downfield and Izzo even added a nice stiff arm to Marcus Maye’s mug as he was tackled on the 41-yard play.
“I was just trying to get in the end zone,’’ said Izzo. “I wish I had broken that tackle.’’
With James White out, Rex Burkhead saw an increase in snaps and had 47 rushing yards and 22 receiving yards. Burkhead’s versatility keeps defenses guessing as he is productive from any number of formations. Burkhead played in the pony backfield, as a single back, and also split wide.
“The expectation level here is so high and it brings out the best in you,’’ said Burkhead.
“Rex is one of our most dependable players,’’ said Bill Belichick. “He’s got tremendous versatility, mental toughness, and has a great skill set.’’
Running on empty
The ground game struggled, and it was clear the tailbacks missed having fullback/sledgehammer James Develin clearing bodies and paths up front.
Sony Michel found it particularly tough sledding as he picked up just 11 yards (with 5 coming on his TD run) on nine carries.
Devin McCourty registered an interception for the third straight game. McCourty’s ability to consistently coordinate the secondary is a huge reason why this defense has become so hard to dent.
“I think we do a lot of talking, especially in the back end, about where we want to be in certain situations, the formations. So, it’s big trust thing,’’ said McCourty. “I’m trying to be where the corners expect me to be at all times, and it just happened to work out that ball’s found [me] for three games in a row.’’
A little rookie adversity
Both guys stood at their lockers and faced the music after the game.
“It’s unacceptable . . . there’s no excuse for it,’’ said Olszewski.
“I just have to make a better throw,’’ said Stidham.