EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Sunday night’s win over the New York Jets was one for the New England Patriots record books, for several reasons.
First and foremost: The 22-17 victory was the 200th of Tom Brady’s NFL career, tying Peyton Manning’s all-time record. The Patriots quarterback will have a chance to leapfrog his longtime rival and move into first place on that exclusive list when New England hosts the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
“That says a lot about him and what he’s been able to do for this franchise,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what a quarterback’s job is — to win. He’s done a great job of that.”
Brady also surpassed the 60,000-passing yard plateau in the win — becoming the fourth quarterback in NFL history to do so — and the Patriots improved to 9-2 on the year, clinching their 16th consecutive winning season.
“It was a great win for our team,” Brady said. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we made plays when we needed to. It was a division game on the road. It’s always a tough team to play. I thought they played really well. I’m glad we made those plays there at the end.”
Some additional notes from Sunday evening’s action:
— Brady toughed out a knee injury to play in the game, and his cameo as a lead blocker for LeGarrette Blount made it clear he was not operating at 100 percent.
— Brady wasn’t the only Patriots player to throw a pass Sunday. Wide receiver Chris Hogan did, as well, targeting fellow wideout Malcolm Mitchell on a double pass early in the second quarter.
Mitchell was unable to haul in Hogan’s bomb, but former Patriots cornerback Darryl Roberts was called for pass interference on the play, giving New England the ball inside the New York 10.
Mitchell turned in another strong performance for the Patriots, catching five passes for 42 yards with two touchdowns.
— Defensive tackle Alan Branch made a key play on special teams when he reached up to block a 54-yard field-goal attempt by Nick Folk.
“That was just all extension,” Branch said. “I don’t know how I got it, but I guess my arms are long enough. … That was probably the least amount of penetration I had on the day. Just a long kick, so he got it low, and I got my hand up.”
Branch is in the process of appealing a four-game suspension — reportedly the result of a failed drug test.
“The appeal’s in there,” Branch said. “I’m just waiting to see what happens from now.”
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft addressed Branch’s appeal in a pregame interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the player and what he talks about to his agent, and the NFLPA and what he thinks is right for his own personal situation,” Kraft said. “There are times when a player comes to a club and asks if (the team) would like to be in on the strategy. But it really is player-initiated. There are times that does happen. There are instances where you look at the back half of the year. Ultimately, it’s just the player’s decision, and we respect that. Most players consult with their agent and the NFLPA, and I would assume their family, as well.”
— Defensive end Jabaal Sheard returned to action for the Patriots after sitting out last Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers as a healthy scratch. He came off the bench behind starter Trey Flowers and finished with three tackles.
“I’m happy to be back with my team, obviously,” he said. “And to get win, that’s the (biggest) positive about (Sunday), getting a win.”
— Stephen Gostkowski made three field goals but missed one — his fourth miss of the season. The Patriots kicker now has shanked a total of seven kicks this season (four field goals, three extra points) after missing a total of eight over the previous three campaigns.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images