By Jimmy Toscano
Tom Brady didn't play. Or Jerod Mayo. Or Rob Gronkowski. Or Vince Wilfork.
And really, there were a ton of other stars who didn't touch the field for the Patriots Thursday night.
As it turns out, none of them were needed.
The Pats crushed the Jags, 47-12 -- icing on the pigskin-flavored cake that fans have been waiting far too long to taste.
It didn't start off all that great for the Pats, though.
The Jags received ball first and, led by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, marched down the field and got on the board with a field goal.
The Pats answered by fumbling on their first possession. A nice pass from Brian Hoyer (15-for-21, 171 yards, one touchdown) to Aaron Hernandez (6 receptions, 68 yards) ended up with the tight end coughing up the ball deep in their own territory.
The Pats' 'D' held strong though and kept the Jags to just another field goal.
After the two teams exchanged punts, New England got to work.
With the ball on the Jags' 49-yard line, the Pats took eight plays, and 3 minutes and 57 seconds, to reach the end zone. Rookie running back Stevan Ridley (16 carries, 64 rushing yards, 7 receptions, 47 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns) pounded it in and the Pats took a 7-6 lead.
"I thought Ridley had some good runs and made a couple good catches," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There were some other things in terms of the rounds, pass protection, a couple run-reads that didnt look well see how it looks on film, but thought he ran hard."
After just a 14-yard punt by the Jaguars' Matt Turk, the Pats took over at Jacksonville's 32 yard line. Hoyer found Hernandez for 19 yards, and then two plays later made a nice throw to second-year wide receiver Taylor Price (5 receptions, 105 yards) in the back of the end zone for the 13-6 lead.
Price was by far the best wide receiver on the field and his improvement was noted by Belichick, who said earlier this week that Price has improved in just about every aspect of his game.
"Taylor had some good plays, made a couple good catches," Belichick said. "I thought that was a tough catch he made in the end zone for a touchdown. He had a couple run-after-catch plays down the sideline there on the hitch pattern when he broke a tackle there by the corner.
"But again, he's done some of those things in practice the last couple weeks, but it was good to see it happen in the game. I think hes been very competitive in practice in training camp this year. The year has made a big difference for him."
After the Taylor TD, the two teams then exchanged field goals, and the Patriots took a 19-9 lead into halftime.
Rookie Ryan Mallet (12-for-19, 164 yards, 1 touchdown) took over in the second half and picked up right where Hoyer left off.
"I think both quarterbacks did a good job," Belichick said. "They moved the ball and we scored some points, so it was good. There were plenty of mistakes, a lot of things weve got to work on, but there were some positives."
An 82-yard drive was capped off by a Ridley one-yard TD run to make it 26-9. Then it was Mallet-to-Ridley for 16 yards to put the Pats up 33-9 at the end of three.
Richard Medlin (14 carries, 54 yards) capped an 80-yard drive with a two-yard run early in the fourth, and scored again a few minutes later.