FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Randy Moss stared at the scoreboard after his third touchdown catch and saw a fan wearing a Randy Moss mask on the screen.
The real Randy — the one who played hard Sunday — stood on the sideline with a huge grin as he made his parting-of-the-defense motion, sweeping his arms from his chest to his sides.
“That was very entertaining,” Moss said after the New England Patriots clinched the AFC East title with a 35-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. “I had a lot of my teammates wanting me to mess with the guy. So he put a little humor into it and I enjoyed it.”
After his last home game, a 20-10 win over Carolina, several Panthers questioned his effort. So did Patriots fans the following week. But on Sunday they chanted his name, “Randy, Randy, Randy.”
And Moss, who has sold the mask on his Web site , appreciated it.
“My last performance here wasn’t really too hot,” he said. “The good thing about (Sunday’s game) is everybody had fun.”
Everybody but the Jaguars (7-8), who still have a slim chance of getting a wild-card berth.
“It was embarrassing,” Jacksonville safety Sean Considine said. “When a playoff spot is on the line, and the opportunity is in front of you, it’s hard to believe we got physically handled like that.”
The Patriots (10-5) won the AFC East for the seventh time in nine years after missing the playoffs last season.
“Regardless of stats, regardless of everything, getting the (AFC East championship) hat and T-shirt is what we’re out here for,” running back Sammy Morris said.
Brady threw four touchdown passes and the young defense put together its third straight solid game.
The Patriots have won three in a row by a combined score of 72-27 after losing three of four.
“It’s the time of year where we really need to start playing good football,” Brady said, “and I think today was one of our best 60 minutes that we played all year.”
Brady rebounded after throwing for just 307 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his previous two games. He completed 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards, reminiscent of his brilliance the last time the teams met — 26 of 28 for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 31-20 divisional playoff win on Jan. 12, 2008.
The Patriots rushed for a season-high 197 yards Sunday.
“I wasn’t surprised at the way they played,” Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “The game meant a lot to them.”
Jacksonville dropped its third straight game and fourth in its past five after starting 6-4.
“We were in the front seat for the playoffs and we just fell apart,” said Maurice Jones-Drew, who was held to 63 yards rushing. “I don’t understand how we as players can do that.”
Moss began his comeback from the Carolina game by catching a touchdown pass the next week in a 17-10 win at Buffalo. Against the Jaguars, he was unusually animated.
“I think any time he scores touchdowns he gets pretty animated,” Brady said. “I’m looking for one of those masks on eBay.”
Moss caught a 2-yard pass for the first touchdown after the Patriots got the ball on downs at the Jacksonville 35. Then, with 45 seconds left in the half, Moss raised his hand in the back of the end zone after breaking his pattern to go for the open spot and Brady found him for a 6-yard score and a 28-0 halftime lead.
His third touchdown came six seconds into the fourth quarter, a 17-yarder on which he reached the ball out to the goal line. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio challenged and, while officials reviewed the play, fans chanted his name.
The touchdown call was upheld, giving Moss the ninth three-touchdown game of his career, and Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point made it 35-0. Moss finished with four catches for 45 yards.
Jacksonville finally scored with 12:41 left on a 2-yard keeper by David Garrard.
The Jaguars ended the first series of the game by forcing Laurence Maroney to fumble at the Jacksonville 1-yard line then turned the ball over on downs at their 35. On the first possession of the third quarter they moved from their 26 to the Patriots 5 before Garrard was intercepted by Shawn Springs.
The Patriots also scored on Chris Baker’s 26-yard reception and Morris’ 1-yard run.
The Jaguars couldn’t stop Wes Welker either. He had 13 catches for 138 yards, his seventh game of the season with at least 10 receptions and sixth with at least 100 yards. He leads the NFL with 122 catches after getting 112 and 111 in his other two seasons with New England.
“I knew my numbers would probably go up just having Tom and the type of offense we’re in,” he said, “but I never knew it would be like this.”<
Notes: Brady wasn’t sacked for the fourth straight game as the Jaguars remained last in the NFL with 14 sacks. … Morris tied his career best with a 55-yard run. … Garrard completed 19 of 25 passes for 185 yards.