FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Patriots found another way to stay unbeaten - with a running game. And their stone-faced coach showed a new way to greet his nemesis - with a smile.
Facing rain, wind and chilly gusts above 20 m.p.h., New England relied on Laurence Maroney's rushing instead of Tom Brady's passing and beat the New York Jets, 20-10, yesterday in the Spygate rematch to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
After the Patriots became the second team in NFL history to go 14-0, coach Bill Belichick broke into a broad grin at his sideline and kept it until he met Eric Mangini, his former protege and defensive coordinator. Mangini had angered Belichick when he left to become coach of the Jets last season.
"Great game, awesome," Belichick appeared to say as they shook hands. Then Belichick walked away, pumping his fist twice over his head.
"He said, 'Good game' or 'Good luck,' " Mangini said. "I can't remember."
Most of their previous four midfield meetings were colder than yesterday's weather.
Mangini had turned Belichick in for having a video assistant use a sideline video camera in violation of NFL rules after the season opener in which the Patriots beat the Jets (3-11). The NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away the Patriots' first-round draft choice next year for the illegal taping.
Maroney ran for 104 yards, just the fourth time this season a New England rusher surpassed 100.
Brady didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and completed 14 of 27 passes for 140 yards and an interception.
On New York's second offensive play, Richard Seymour slammed Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens to the ground in the Jets' end zone, forcing a bad throw and an interception that Eugene Wilson returned 5 yards for a touchdown. Clemens didn't return after being sacked, and Chad Pennington took over.