By Julian Linden
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The Patriots were in a festive mood following a Thanksgiving Day battering of the New York Jets on Thursday with quarterback Tom Brady devouring a turkey drumstick during an interview after New England's emphatic victory.
Brady could be forgiven for enjoying a rich post-game meal after he and his team mates had already helped themselves to an NFL feast, piling on seven touchdowns, including five in the second quarter, in a lop-sided 49-19 victory at Metlife Stadium.
The win was the Patriots' fifth in a row and lifted their season record to 8-3, four games clear of their nearest rivals in the AFC East division.
With five regular-season games remaining, a playoffs berth seems a formality for last season's Super Bowl runners-up, who were seemingly unaffected by the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a broken arm last week.
For the Jets, the mood was one of despair. With a captive national audience watching, they produced one of their worst performances in years.
"We're about as wounded as you can possibly be but we're not dead," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said.
At 4-7, the Jets still have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs but even their most loyal fans were showing signs of losing faith.
Thousands of spectators headed for the exit gates before halftime when the Jets gave up 35 points in a farcical second quarter and more than three-quarters of the 80,000 seats were empty long before the end.
"Thirty-five points in a quarter, I thought that was almost impossible to do but they found a way to do it," Ryan said.
"You have to give them credit, they're a great football team but they didn't any help from us and 35 points in a quarter is ridiculous."
After a scoreless first quarter, the game ended as a contest in the blink of an eye when the Patriots scored three touchdowns in 52 seconds.
Brady, who threw three touchdown passes and ran in one himself, connected with Shane Vereen for an 83-yard touchdown after New York's Shonn Greene turned the ball over.
Two plays later, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into the back of his own team mates and fumbled the ball for New England's Steve Gregory to return it 32 yards for a touchdown.
Joe McKnight then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Julian Edelman to score from 22 yards.
The Jets kicked a field goal just before halftime then responded with consolation scores in the third and fourth quarters but were never able to mount a challenge to the visitors, who added two more touchdowns in the final quarter.
(Editing by John O'Brien)