Tom Brady said following last week's 400-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns he was a bit rusty.
Whatever rust Brady may have had in last week's return from a four-game suspension is surely gone. The New England Patriots quarterback was superb yet again Sunday, dismantling the Cincinnati Bengals defense in a 35-17 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Brady was 29 of 35 for 376 yards and three touchdowns. The 17-year veteran now has 5,010 completions for his career, becoming the fourth quarterback in NFL history with at least 5,000. He joins Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to reach the 5,000-completion plateau.
The Patriots (5-1) got off to a bit of a slow start Sunday, but Brady's 15-yard pass to running back James White with 1:01 remaining in the first half gave the Patriots a 10-7 halftime lead.
The lone touchdown of the first half for the Bengals (2-4) came on a 2-yard Andy Dalton run. The Bengals were stopped earlier in the second quarter at the goal line as Giovani Bernard was stuffed by defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Alan Branch on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Patriots used White's touchdown as momentum for the second half.
After Cincinnati took a brief lead on a touchdown pass from Dalton to former Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell, Dalton was sacked in the end zone by Dont'a Hightower on the next Bengals possession. Following the safety, the Patriots went 68 yards in five plays on the ensuing possession and grabbed the lead for good on Brady's 4-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski.
The score was set up by a 38-yard Gronkowski reception. The big Patriots tight end finished with seven receptions for a career-high 162 yards. He also passed Irving Fryar for fourth place on the franchise's all-time receiving yards list.
Brady threw a second touchdown pass to White, which also came after a 38-yard completion to Gronkowski. White finished with eight receptions for 47 yards and 19 rushing yards on seven carries. The Patriots were led on the ground by LeGarrette Blount, who had 50 yards on 13 carries and punctuated the win with a 1-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining.
Dalton didn't play poorly, going 21 of 31 for 254 yards and a touchdown. But not many can compete with Brady when he's at his best, which he was Sunday.