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Tom Brady Roared Back Against the Saints

After a Week 1 dud, he put up the best passing performance ever for a 40-year-old

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You may have to put your Tom Brady is washed takes on hold, at least for another week. After struggling in New England’s Week 1 loss to the Chiefs, the future Hall of Famer bounced back against the Saints on Sunday, completing 30 of 39 passes for 447 yards, three touchdowns, no picks, and a 139.6 passer rating in the Patriots’ 36-20 win.

Brady wasted no time in picking apart a discombobulated New Orleans back seven, throwing three touchdowns in the first quarter alone—the first time he’s done that in his entire 273-game career. He accomplished this despite the fact that New England suited just three receivers (they’re dealing with injuries to Danny Amendola and Matt Slater), as he spread the ball around to the Patriots’ versatile offensive skill players. On New England’s first possession, Brady found Rex Burkhead in the back of the end zone after the free-agent running back acquisition lined up in the slot and ran a route up the seam. On the Patriots’ second possession, Brady eluded pressure in the pocket and heaved it up to Rob Gronkowski, and the big tight end did the rest to put the ball in the end zone. On the team’s third possession, Brady hit receiver Chris Hogan with a back-shoulder fade for the score.

After looking a little skittish—and worryingly inaccurate—in the team’s opening game, the devastatingly accurate and poised Brady we’ve come to know showed up in New Orleans. As Brady calmly moved around in the pocket and connected with his receivers downfield, New England’s offense collected another touchdown and three field goals over the next three quarters to bury the Saints while punting only twice all afternoon. And sure, the Saints defense—which finished 29th in Football Outsiders DVOA last season—tends to be a pretty good cure-all to every quarterbacks’ ills, but we can’t write off what was close to a career day for Brady, and the best showing for a 40-year-old quarterback in the league’s history. Brady passed for 300 yards in a first half for just the second time in his career and hit the 400-yard passing mark for the 10th time, and he’s only eclipsed his 447 passing yards on the game twice. No 40-year-old passer has ever thrown for more.

So, while the quest for an undefeated season ended before it even started, it appears that the Patriots are just fine. New England is going to have to deal with injuries to Gronkowski (groin), Phillip Dorsett (knee), and Burkhead (ribs) this week, but as long as Brady plays like he did on Sunday, it may not matter who he’s throwing to.