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Patriots' Tom Brady bounces back with vintage game

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The Patriots' problems didn't last long. The team scored 30 points by halftime and cruised to a 36-20 victory in New Orleans over the Saints on Sunday.

1. Tom Brady's response to an uneven Week 1 was perhaps the best first quarter of his career. Brady had 177 yards, five perfect third-down tosses and a personal record three touchdowns in the first 15 minutes on the way to 447 yards for the game, third most of his career. Don't just attribute this to his opponent.

Brady had a number of breathtaking throws, often into tight windows. His footwork and ability to connect on difficult passes under pressure somehow looks better than it did a decade ago. He toyed with some of the Saints' youngsters, looking off defenders and often winning before the snap.

2. It wasn't all good news for the Patriots' offense. Rob Gronkowski's return to form was cut short by a groin injury that knocked him out of action in the third quarter. (Before that, Gronk was back to his usual physical self with safeties bouncing off him on the way to six catches and 116 yards, including a 53-yard score.) Wide receiver Chris Hogan limped through the second half of the game, receiver Phillip Dorsett left with a knee injury late and running back Rex Burkhead suffered a rib injury. The Patriots had only one fully healthy wide receiver by the end of the game.

3. For the second straight week, Drew Brees and the Saints' offense was fine. Just fine. But they are going to need to take it to another level to compete with a Saints defense struggling this much to get stops. Brees just hasn't been in synch with his receivers, with Ted Ginn, Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas occasionally making timing errors. More importantly, the Saints' running game is an afterthought. Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for only 53 rushing yards before a last-minute garbage time run by Ingram. 

4. New England's defense is a work in progress, but it might have found a keeper in fourth-round rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. He finished with five QB hits, two tackles for loss and a sack. He and undrafted rookie defensive tackle Adam Butler, who started over veteran Alan Branch, gives the Patriots some much-needed youth up front.  

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