|Tom Brady completed passes to eight receivers and threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He has 10 TDs and one interception this season. (MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF)|
He's a picture perfect pitcher
Brady spins another beauty, leading high-flying Patriots
FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady can do little wrong in the eyes of the region as it is, and through the first three games of 2007, the Patriots quarterback really is as close to perfection as he's ever been.
Brady maintained his insane 80 percent completion rate for the season with another outstanding performance yesterday against the Bills. He was 23 of 29 for 311 yards and four touchdowns as New England blew out Buffalo, 38-7, at Gillette Stadium.
Through three games, Brady has completed 70 of 88 passes for 887 yards and 10 touchdowns. He did not reach the 10-TD mark last year until Week 6. Each of his three games this season ranks among the top six completion percentages of Brady's career.
"He's been average," running back Sammy Morris wholeheartedly joked before turning serious. "Tom is a great leader. He makes a lot of plays out there. He directs our offense perfectly."
For the first time in his career, Brady has thrown three or more touchdown passes in three straight games. Randy Moss was on the receiving end of two of the scores yesterday and has caught half of Brady's TD passes.
Brady hit Moss with a 3-yard touchdown toss late in the second quarter and in the fourth, Moss, being covered along the Buffalo sideline by cornerback Jabari Greer, reached out to make a great grab of a 45-yard pass he took into the end zone.
"I just try to throw it up as high as I can and try to put it out there where only he can get it," Brady said. "With his length, even when the DB is on his hip, he can extend and make the play. My job is easy. You just have to throw it up there."
Moss has caught 22 Brady passes for 403 yards.
Brady also threw touchdown passes to Benjamin Watson and Jabar Gaffney. Moss caught five passes for his third straight 100-yard game (115) and Wes Welker had six catches for 69 yards.
Brady tied a career high with the four touchdown passes. His three-game total of 10 TD passes is the highest three-game total of his career.
Last year at this time, as Brady worked in a new crew of receivers, the talk was all about chemistry, timing, and patience. Right now, the conversation is more about completions, touchdowns, and maybe an MVP award. Brady is surely the early front-runner.
The Patriots got off to a slow start against the Bills. New England trailed, 7-3, at the end of the first quarter and Brady, if you can believe it, was among the early mistake-makers.
In the second quarter, on first and goal at the Buffalo 3, Brady, on a sneak, fumbled at the 1. Buffalo tackle John McCargo recovered the ball.
"It was a bad play," Brady said.
The Bills did not advance the ball in three tries. Welker fielded Brian Moorman's 75-yard punt and returned it to the Buffalo 47, from where the Patriots began a six-play scoring drive.
Brady praised the offensive line for pass protection - he was sacked once - and run blocking. The Patriots rushed for 177 yards and were able to generate some play-action.
"There was a drive there where it was run, run, run, play-action and I hit Wes," Brady said. "That was fun because we were pounding it in there and finally they had a Cover-2 defense, we play-action fake and all three linebackers step up and Wes is wide open. That's tough on the defense and the more we can run it effectively in a play-action pass and then when they give us man coverage you try to throw the ball to your mismatches, that's a pretty good way to go."
Brady, like many of his teammates, was emotional following last week's win over San Diego and the fallout of the videotaping controversy.
The week of preparation for the Bills started slowly, Brady said, and it was something the team had to fight through.
"Coach [Bill Belichick] recognized it and really came down on us pretty hard," Brady said, "probably harder than he ever has. The team really responded on Friday. Saturday we were focused and today we came out and we made enough plays."