FOXBORO -- Tom Brady didn't miss many throws in leading the Patriots to a 41-3 drubbing of the Jets on Christmas Eve, partly because he didn't have many to make.
The Patriots needed Brady for only three quarters before replacing him with backup Jimmy Garoppolo at the end of the third. The 39-year-old ended up completing 17 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 124.6. His 27 attempts were the least he's made since a Week 7 win over the Steelers.
PATRIOTS 41, JETS 3
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Brady now has thrown for 3,281 yards and 25 touchdowns against two interceptions. He is squarely in the conversation for league MVP despite missing the first four games of the season, and Bovada had him listed behind only Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott as the favorite for that honor earlier this week.
At least one of Brady's teammates feels the Patriots quarterback should be atop that list.
"For sure, without a doubt he should be in the race, and to me I think he is the MVP," said running back LeGarrette Blount. "That's just my personal opinion. I think he is. That's my quarterback, and I'm playing with the greatest quarterback of all time. Even though he missed games, whatever. He's the best quarterback in the league. Easily. Hands down."
Blount wasn't the only person at Gillette Stadium who felt that way Saturday. With just under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brady scrambled away from pressure to find Julian Edelman wide open for 28 yards in the middle of the field. After the Jets called timeout, the home crowd began to chant louder and louder, "MVP...MVP...MVP..."
Whatever positive feelings came with that moment -- and the touchdown Blount scored 12 plays later -- didn't last long.
"I definitely need to work on ball security, though," Brady said of his long completion to Edelman. "That ball was too loose. But it was a good play. I thought everyone stayed alive. It was good protection. It bought me some time, and then I kind of doubled back and then found Jules, and we ended up scoring on the drive, so that was a good play."
There were several. There was Brady's first touchdown of the day, a pass to Martellus Bennett in the back of the end zone that had Brady pointing to his family watching from a box high above.
"I had a big Brazilian contingent here today," Brady said, "so they wanted me to represent a little bit. It was nice."
There was an 18-yard touchdown pass to Matt Lengel, which was Lengel's first NFL catch.
"That was pretty cool," Brady said. "I would say he really wasn’t the first option on the play, but he sprung free and it ended up being a big play in the game."
Then there was the 25-yard score to James White at the end of the second, just minutes after White had dropped what would have been a long gain earlier in the quarter.
"I think James . . . has gained so much confidence of everybody over the course of his time that I have no problem going back to him," Brady said, "because he always finds a way to get open and he always comes down with it."
Brady finished his afternoon by handing off six times, making it a relatively easy end to an easy day that brought his team one step closer to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and may have brought him one step closer to his third MVP.