On the same day 14 years ago, Tom Brady entered in relief of quarterback Drew Bledsoe to finish off the fourth quarter of a 34-9 loss. But this time around, Brady and the New England Patriots were the ones on the winning end against the Detroit Lions.
The numbers told the story of what took place in Foxborough on Sunday afternoon.
Here is a look into six of them.
Brady Reaches 63 300-Yard Passing Games: The Patriots were going to pass the ball. Versus the No. 1-ranked Lions defense allowing under 70 rushing yards per game, they were going to pass the ball a lot. Brady did so, going 38-of-53 passing en route to two touchdowns, an interception and 349 yards in what was the 63rd 300-yard passing game of his regular-season career. In turn, Brady now finds himself tied Miami Dolphins great Dan Marino for third all-time at 63. And 204 games in, he trails only Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.
Detroit Completes 39.1 Percent: Brady wasn’t the only one turning to the air. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford fought for the same right, throwing 46 passes Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The high volume of attempts did not equate to a high volume of completions, however, as Stafford finished 18-of-46 passing with 264 yards and an interception. For the sixth-year pro, the 28 incompletions marked the second-highest total of his career. The 39.1 completion percentage, meanwhile, marked the lowest of his career.
Johnson, Tate Catch Four Passes vs. Two Patriots: Stafford’s 28 incompletions against the Patriots didn’t transpire in a vacuum; Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner had their hand in them as well. Often paired up against wideouts Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate – who collaborated for eight receptions and 155 yards in all – the two starting cornerbacks were responsible for only four of their receptions. The two receivers were targeted a total of 21 times.
Blount Scores Two Touchdowns: The return of LeGarrette Blount wasn’t a quiet one, as the 6-foot, 250-pound running back collected 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns just three days after re-signing with the Patriots. For Blount, who was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers five days prior to Sunday’s matchup, the two scores marked the same total he had in 11 contests with the Steelers this season. Both of which transpired over the first three contests of September.
LaFell Now One Catch, Three Yards Away: Brandon LaFell did not record a catch over the first two weeks of the season. But since then, the former Carolina Panthers wideout has made up for lost time. LaFell hauled in nine passes for a team-best 98 yards against the Detroit secondary. And now with 48 catches for 674 yards on the campaign, he’s just one catch for three yards away from tying the best numbers of his career. LaFell caught 49 passes for Carolina in 2013, and he posted 677 receiving yards in 2013. He has already matched his high point for touchdowns in a season with five.
Patriots Post Winning Record for 14th Consecutive Year: New England’s Week 12 victory brought the team’s record to 9-2, securing a winning record for the 14th consecutive regular season. The 14-season streak brings the Patriots into a tie for fourth-longest in the league’s history. The Dallas Cowboys reside atop that company, finishing with a winning record from 1966 to 1985.