The sun brightened Gillette Stadium one day after Tom Brady‘s passes floated into the arms of open receivers as gently as the snow.
One of the most productive games of his brilliant career came against one of the worst teams in the NFL, but the mood was upbeat Monday. Even Bill Belichick was happy.
“It’s nice to come in this morning,” the New England Patriots coach said. “There are a lot of positive things on the film.”
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Start with Sunday’s 59-0 rout of the Tennessee Titans, matching the biggest margin since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970. Move on to Brady’s NFL record of five touchdown passes in a quarter. His six scoring throws before he left with the score 52-0 after his first series in the third quarter tied his career high.
The Patriots (4-2) set an NFL record for largest halftime lead, 45-0, and a team mark with 619 yards.
And they finally had some big gainers. In their first five games, their longest run was 19 yards and their longest completion gained 36.
“The quarterback made a good throw. The protection was good. We had time for the route to develop” on the long passes, Belichick said.
Laurence Maroney ran for a 45-yard touchdown. Four of the scoring passes covered 40, 38, 30 and 28 yards after a week in which Belichick and Brady stressed making big plays.
“I think we were just sick of hearing (them) and kind of wanted to shut them up,” said a joking Wes Welker, who had two touchdowns among his 10 catches.
The snow that began just before the game seemed to help the Patriots, especially since a driving rain that makes it tougher to get a grip on the ball had fallen much of the morning.
Receivers knew where they were going. On several passes, Welker and Randy Moss were so free that they waved their hands to make sure Brady saw them.
“Some days out there when it’s snowy like that, it’s actually an advantage to the offense,” Brady said. “When you see the (rainy) weather forecast on Thursday, you’re kind of (angry). And then once the day of the games comes around, everyone is excited because you’re out there and you’re like, ‘This is football. This is how it should be.”‘
Not for the Titans, 0-6 after their offense managed two completions for minus-12 yards, dropped numerous passes and lost two interceptions and three fumbles.
The Patriots allowed only 186 yards but want to learn from their few mistakes as they prepare to face another winless team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in London on Sunday.
“There is good and bad in everything,” said safety Brandon Meriweather, who forced one of the fumbles.
It wasn’t a great day for outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, who was a healthy inactive player for the first time since he was a rookie in 2000. He had started the first five games but had just 12 tackles and two quarterback hurries. His only sack came in the opener.
“We look at who can give us the best chance at their position or at the positions and Bill certainly looks at it from an overall team standpoint,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Monday.
What does that mean for the future of the 32-year-old Thomas?
“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “It was one game. We’ll evaluate it this coming week against Tampa like we always do.”
Patriots players will be available to the media Tuesday for the first time since the game.
They’ll practice for Sunday’s game while other members of the organization complete the logistics of the overseas journey.
“We talk about certain things that we want to try to keep constant on the trips and we do that as much as we can,” Belichick said. “It’s not always possible to make them all the same based on where the facilities are and where we’re going, and sometimes the timing changes a little bit.”
Running back Sammy Morris‘ status was uncertain after he hurt his left knee on the third play and missed the rest of Sunday’s game.
“There’s always a little more information a day or two days after the game,” Belichick said when asked if the injury might sideline Morris for a long time.
With Fred Taylor missing the last two games and probably more after ankle surgery, the Patriots are down to three healthy running backs, Maroney, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.