"I certainly never got into coaching expecting that to ever happen," Belichick said, "so it is very gratifying to reach that milestone. But what it really says is I had a lot of really good players."
Tom Brady went 15 for 22 for 149 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers, and Cassel's first start against his close friend and former mentor was a dud. Devin McCourty, Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan and Dominique Easley all picked him off, setting up 17 points for the Patriots and prompting chants from the crowd for rookie Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel finished 19 for 36 for 202 yards.
New England defensive end Chandler Jones had two sacks and returned a field goal he blocked for a touchdown right before halftime.
This was Brady's 149th win as a starter, pushing him past John Elway into third place on the all-time list behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
"I don't think about those things too much, but I'm glad we won and hopefully we can do better next week," Brady said.
The pass-run ratio last week for the Patriots was 60-20 in a shaky loss at Miami, but they established a much better balance here.
"I take full responsibility for not taking care of the football today," Cassel said. "I've got to do a better job, and I will."
That will be tougher without Peterson.
"It's just part of life," Zimmer said, after dismissing several questions from reporters about Peterson's absence and status. "Would we have liked to have him? Sure."
NOTES: The Patriots beat the Vikings 31-7 on Oct. 30, 2006, their last visit to Minnesota. They're 8-4 in the series, with four wins in a row. ... Ryan, replacing injured starter Alfonzo Dennard, helped hold Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson to four catches for 56 yards. He was targeted seven times and had his TD streak stopped at six straight games.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press