What you need to know about the Patriots’ big win — and their next opponent

New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead (34) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Tom Brady in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Rex Burkhead celebrates his touchdown with Tom Brady in the first half against the New Orleans Saints. –AP Photo/Bill Feig

“To be 0-1 with a 10-day break felt like a year” for Tom Brady, but the 40-year-old led his team to a resounding 36-20 victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Here’s a rundown of what you missed and what’s to come:

Brady’s back

Avoiding the team’s first 0-2 since 2001, the Patriots looked like a well-oiled machine at the Superdome, thanks to their quarterback’s record-breaking performance. Brady had 447 yards on the game, which is the third-highest in his career and most-ever for a 40-year-old quarterback. Eclipsing 400 passing yards for just the tenth time in his career—nine of which have come after 2011—he nearly doubled his stat line from Week 1 against the Chiefs.

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Brady also broke the league record for most number of games (52) with three touchdowns and no interceptions, having previously been tied with Peyton Manning. One of those scores on Sunday came while he was under pressure—a situation Brady has seemingly become very comfortable in.

The play calling was better

 The Patriots opted to activate a third tight end, Jacob Hollister, for Sunday’s game. On their very first play of the game, they elected to go with a three-tight end formation by having Hollister, Rob Gronkowski, and Dwayne Allen all on the field.

Throughout the game, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels continued to experiment with his personnel. On the first drive alone, New England offered five different groupings and ran a direct hand-off to wide receiver Brandin Cooks as well as three short passes to running back James White.

“We’re gonna need a bigger tent”

A number of Patriots received medical attention throughout the contest. Among them were Gronkowski (groin), Rex Burkhead (ribs), Chris Hogan (right knee, leg), Eric Rowe (groin), and Phillip Dorsett (left knee). Following the game, Gronk declined to speak to the media, saying “I’m good” with a smile and thumbs up. Hogan offered a similar sentiment, as he dismissed his injury to reporters.

The win was a team effort

Despite the growing concern regarding the health of the Patriots’ roster, many of New England’s offensive weapons had something to offer on Sunday. Brady passed the ball to nine different receivers and handed it off to seven. The longest reception of the game went to Gronkowski, with his 53-yard touchdown, but Dorsett also had an impressive 38-yard gain in double coverage.

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The Patriots will host the Houston Texans, who are also 1-1, on Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. New England holds a decisive 7-1 edge in head-to-head matchups, including two postseason victories. The teams faced off in preseason play earlier this year, in which the Texans won 27-23.