Brady throws 4 TD passes in triumphant Bay Area return
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Tom Brady threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and the New England Patriots beat San Francisco 30-17 on Sunday in Brady's first road game against the 49ers team he rooted for as a boy.
Brady found Danny Amendola for a 5-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter then later hit Malcolm Mitchell on a 56-yard score for his fourth TD pass.
Brady also threw short touchdown passes to Julian Edelman and James White on his first two possessions and completed 24 of 40 passes. The AFC East-leading Patriots (8-2) bounced back from last week's loss to the Seahawks on a rainy day at Levi's Stadium.
And when the game ended, a rainbow had emerged over the entire stadium – a fitting cap to Brady's fine afternoon of football. No. 12 then threw a football into the stands behind one end zone.
Edelman caught a 4-yard TD pass for the first score of the game , breaking away from Keith Reaser to the corner and just keeping two feet inbounds. He finished with eight receptions for 77 yards and Mitchell four catches for 98 yards.
Brady hit White for a 9-yard touchdown then Amendola reached a career high with his fourth TD catch of 2016 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Mitchell's athletic, reaching grab between two defenders and straightaway speed after the catch for his first career touchdown sealed it.
Back in the Bay Area at last and with so many family and friends in the stands, Brady completed eight of his first nine passes and nine of 11, while New England's defense flew through a leaky offensive line at Colin Kaepernick for four first-half sacks and five in all.
Brady had never played a road game against the 49ers, having injured his knee before the Patriots' 2008 visit Candlestick Park – the very place the young Brady used to cheer Joe Montana and witnessed ''The Catch'' by Dwight Clark.
It only took until his 17th NFL season for Brady to face San Francisco on its home field. He missed a 2008 game at The Stick because of a season-ending knee injury.
LeGarrette Blount had a season-long 44-yard run and finished with 125 yards rushing.
Kaepernick threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald late in the first half to get the 49ers (1-9) within 13-10, but they didn't do enough right after intermission until Shaun Draughn's late 13-yard TD catch.
Levi's Stadium was so packed with Patriots fans it almost sounded like a home game in Foxborough.
Kaepernick has looked improved each week since regaining the starting job last month, completing 16 of 30 passes for 206 yards but the 1-and-Niners – as their nickname quickly became Sunday – lost a ninth straight game under first-year coach Chip Kelly since opening the season with a shutout of the Rams.
SO MANY TARGETS: During the regular season, Brady has thrown touchdown passes to 63 players – second-most behind Vinny Testaverde's 70 different scoring receivers.
Brady also had four TD passes with no interceptions for the 21st time in his career.
PATS PASS RUSH: Four different Patriots had first-half sacks on Kaepernick: Patrick Chung, Malcolm Butler, Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower. Rob Ninkovich sacked Kaepernick in the second half.
LEWIS' DEBUT: Pats running back Dion Lewis made his season debut after recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
He had a 9-yard reception for a first down during New England's opening drive.
DAWSON'S MARK: With a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, San Francisco's 41-year-old kicker, Phil Dawson, became the 10th kicker in NFL history to reach 400 field goals.
SMITH'S FIRST MISS: San Francisco wideout Torrey Smith missed his first career game and had his streak of consecutive games snapped at 89 because of a shoulder injury sustained last week at Arizona.
This is his sixth NFL season and he had never sat out previously.
Patriots: Travel to face the Jets on Sunday.
49ers: Travel to face the Dolphins on Sunday.
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