FOXBOROUGH - The differences were manifold and manifest.
In Week 2, the Patriots lost to the Jets, 16-9 at the Meadowlands. Sunday evening in Foxborough, they handled New York with relative ease in a 31-14 victory.
Here's how the pendulum swung back in New England's favor:
After a hot start to his NFL career, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchezhas cooled considerably. In the Week 2 meeting with the Patriots, Sanchez appeared poised and in control of his offense while making good decisions with the football. He didn't have eye-popping statistics, but he managed the game and didn't make egregious mistakes.
Just the opposite was true in this past game. Sanchez was erratic, completing just eight of his 21 pass attempts.
"It's the second time we've played him. You know, the more you get to play against somebody, the better prepared you are," safety Brandon Meriweathersaid at his locker afterward.
"We came prepared … I want to say unlike last time, but last time we came prepared, too. This time, we came more prepared, we wanted to do a little more. We just happened to do exactly what we wanted to do and he kept throwing us stuff."
Which led to ...
New England picked off Sanchez four times in this second contest (versus no INTs in Week 2), three of which (including a pick-six) came from cornerback Leigh Boddenalone. Meriweather snagged the other late in the second half.
"Leigh had a great day," Meriweather said. "He practiced hard this week, watched a lot of film, and it showed. They say you do what you do at practice. He had a good week of practice and he had a good game."
"The first game, we made plays, but we made crucial plays in this one," added LB Jerod Mayo.
"The last couple of games, [the Jets] have been turning the ball over quite a bit. We knew we could get make a couple of turnovers, and the defensive backs just made great reads on the ball."
Welker returns ... big-time
Pro Bowl WR Wes Welkerwas inactive in the first meeting back in September. Sunday, he had a career day, catching 15 passes for 192 yards. His return to the offense allowed the Patriots to take advantage of the Jets emphasis on covering Randy Moss.
"Watching film of the way they played us last time, with Randy, knowing they were going to match [Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle] Revis on him and play a lot of deep safeties back there. And being able to work the middle of the field … I knew there were probably going to be a lot of balls thrown my way … not to that extent," Welker told reporters.
"The guys did a great job around me, playing really well, blocking up front, doing their jobs ... and that's what it comes down to. That's why we had success out there."
Brady had time
Having his outlet receiver back against the aggressive Jets defense gave QB Tom Bradyhis safety net back. However, the blitz-happy Jets continued to try to get pressure on Brady. But unlike in Week 2, when Brady was under constant harassment all afternoon, he had more time to survey the field this time around.
"I don't think we handled it as well when they blitzed early in the last game. So, when you don't handle it well, they typically keep bringing it," Brady explained. "[Tonight], we handled it ... they blitz 40 to 50 percent of the time. They were blitzing hard today, we just did a pretty good job of sorting it out."
*Ground game got going *
Playing from behind in much of the first contest, New England was forced to abandon its running game earlier, perhaps, than the game plan wanted to. The Patriots rushed just 20 times in Week 2 for a total of 83 yards.
In the rematch, Laurence Maroneyalone (despite losing a fumble for the second straight week) had 77 yards on 22 carries, including a pair of touchdown runs. Having a balanced attack also helped to keep the Jets defense honest when it came to attacking Brady.
Red zone efficiency
Scoring touchdowns from inside their opponents' 20 has been an issue for the Patriots of late. But against the Jets this week, the were 3-for-4 and kicked a field goal on the fourth drive ... much improved from the team's 0-for-3 effort against New York in Week 2, when their only points on the day came from three field goals.
Last week's loss to the Colts was devastating, but New England made a concerted effort not to let it affect them adversely while preparing for the Jets. In fact, they might have used it as a bit of a motivating factor to prove to themselves that they were able to put the Indy debacle behind them and continue with their tough slate of games - the Jets this week, at New Orleans next Monday night, and at Miami in prime time in two weeks.
"That was a tough game that we played in Indianapolis ... a heartbreaker," admitted Bodden, "but we had to play passionately and move on to the next week. This week was a division game. The Jets played us tough the first time around.
"There was a lot of emotion from last week, and we definitely wanted to finish this week against the Jets."
"It says a lot," Meriweather concluded about this win over the Jets. "We let that [Colts] game go and got on to the Jets. We'll celebrate tonight and go on to New Orleans."