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AP photo by John Bazemore / An Atlanta Falcons fan shows his frustration with the team during Thursday night's shutout loss to the visiting New England Patriots. Atlanta lost 25-0 four days after a 43-3 road loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

ATLANTA — Led by a defense that's downright nasty, the New England Patriots are suddenly playing with the swagger of their Tom Brady years.

Mac Jones threw a 19-yard pass to Nelson Agholor for the game's only offensive touchdown, and Kyle Van Noy and the New England defense took care of the rest, blanking the Atlanta Falcons 25-0 on Thursday night.

New England (7-4) has won five straight games and has allowed a combined 13 points in its past three.

"We're catching our stride," said linebacker Matthew Judon, who picked up another sack to push his season total to a career-best 10.5. "We're playing with a lot of confidence."

The Patriots weren't as dominating as four days earlier, when they blew out the Cleveland Browns 45-7, but it was a thorough beatdown of a feeble foe that hasn't scored a touchdown in nearly nine quarters.

New England has its longest winning streak since an 8-0 start to the 2019 season, which turned out to be Brady's final run with the franchise. The quarterback who won six titles while leading the Patriots to nine Super Bowls won the big game again this past February with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now the Patriots are doing their best to build another winner under longtime coach Bill Belichick.

"I feel like we've got one of the best defenses in the league," said cornerback J.C. Jackson, who had one of the four picks by the Patriots.

Atlanta (4-6) was shut out for the first time since a 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 13, 2015.

Matt Ryan was sacked four times and intercepted twice, enduring another miserable performance — this one in prime time — after posting the lowest passer rating of his career in a 43-3 rout by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

"It's been a tough five days offensively," said Ryan, who at 36 is in his 14th season with the Falcons. "We haven't thrown the ball well enough, we haven't run the ball well enough, I have to be more accurate."

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution photo by Curtis Compton via AP / New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor high-steps into the end zone for a touchdown past Atlanta Falcons defenders Brandon Copeland, center, and Duron Harmon during the second quarter of Thursday night's game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The Patriots drove 76 yards in seven plays for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

Damien Harris did most of the dirty work, carrying four times for 34 yards and grabbing a 9-yard pass before Agholor got open over the middle against busted coverage, hauled in the throw from Jones and scooted to the end zone.

Jones was 22-of-26 passing for 207 yards.

"It was a good team win," the rookie quarterback said. "The defense stepped up and played really well."

Van Noy had two sacks and capped his brilliant defensive performance with a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown off Falcons backup Josh Rosen. Nick Folk booted field goals of 32, 44, 53 and 33 yards.

Atlanta's only chance to make a game of it came after A.J. Terrell's 35-yard interception return sparked a drive that reached the New England 16-yard line in the final minute of the third quarter.

On fourth-and-1, the Falcons handed the ball to Qadree Ollison, who had been promoted from the practice squad just before the game. He was swallowed up by the Patriots for no gain.

Atlanta simply had no offensive punch with versatile offensive star Cordarrelle Patterson, the team's leading rusher and its best receiving option out of the backfield, unable to go because of an ankle injury. The Patriots devoted much of their attention to rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, limiting the first-round draft pick to three catches for 29 yards.

Even after the Falcons essentially put up the white flag by pulling Ryan, the Patriots didn't let up. Van Noy dropped back into coverage to pick off a pass that was intended for Russell Gage, returning it for the touchdown that finished the scoring.

The Falcons then sent in third-string quarterback Feleipe Franks, who received the same treatment from the New England defense. On his only play, Franks was intercepted by Adrian Phillips.

The Falcons became the first team to have three quarterbacks picked off in the same game since Nov. 12, 2000, when the San Diego Chargers' Jim Harbaugh, Ryan Leaf and Moses Moreno threw interceptions in a 17-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

A terrible sequence in the second quarter epitomized Atlanta's offensive woes. On third down and needing less than a yard at the New England 14, Ryan was thrown down by Van Noy for a 13-yard loss.

The Falcons still appeared to salvage some points when Younghoe Koo kicked a 45-yard field goal, only to have it wiped off the board by an illegal formation penalty on lineman Jason Springs. Forced to kick again, Koo's 50-yard attempt veered wide left of the upright.

"It kind of snowballed from there," said first-year Falcons coach Arthur Smith, the former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator.

The Patriots return to competition when they host the AFC-leading Titans (8-2) on Nov. 26 in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest games of the year.

The same day, the Falcons visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7), who first face the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday.

"We're going to get there," Smith said. "I promise you that. We're going to get out of this thing and continue to fight."

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