On Sunday, Tom Brady played in his first game in his native Northern California against his childhood team in the San Francisco 49ers. As a season ticket holder, Brady saw Joe Montana sling darts all around the old Candlestick Park and win multiple championships. Now, Brady is mentioned in the same conversation with Montana as one of the best quarterbacks to ever grace a football field. What a surreal feeling it must have been for the overachieving kid from San Mateo.
Sorry for that little spiel. Anyways, there was a game going on Sunday, even though both teams had a multitude of off-field issues surrounding them. The Patriots had traded their best defensive player in Jamie Collins and were fresh off a loss at home against a red-hot Seattle Seahawks team, whom many now regard as the best team in the NFL. Many have been questioning the defensive prowess of New England, and unfortunately most, if not all, of those questions were unanswered after Sunday's game.
The Patriots were able to generate some serious pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick right from the opening drive. The Patriots registered two sacks in three plays and looked to be playing a much more aggressive style of defense. Whether this was because of the opponent or a change in the defensive scheme, it was clearly working.
Unfortunately, whether it was Colin Kaepernick adjusting to the defense or the Patriots simply shying away from rushing the quarterback, the 49ers were able to move the ball at will against the Patriots defense, especially in the first half. As the second half started, the Patriots were able to play a little better defensively, and Kaepernick decided to resume his sucking.
The Patriots were able to move the ball with relative ease throughout the entire game, but were especially sharp in the second half. Julian Edelman had a season-high 17 targets, as the other native Northern Californian was trying to stick it to his hometown team. Edelman finished the day with eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Rookie Malcolm Mitchell was able to step up in the absence of Chris Hogan and delivered his best game as a professional. Mitchell hauled in four catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. It appears as if the Patriots have finally drafted a receiver they feel comfortable with.
Out of every player on the field yesterday, Tom Brady clearly delivered the best performance. Brady finished the day completing 24 of 40 passes for 280 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. On multiple occasions, Brady was able to side-step or step up in the pocket to extend plays and find the open receiver. Danny Amendola in particular was able to envision where Brady was going to be in the pocket and get open in the end zone for a touchdown.
For Brady, this is his 21st four-touchdown game with zero interceptions in his career, which is the most in NFL history. This also marks the ninth time in Brady's career that he has thrown four touchdowns to four different receivers.
Against a historically bad rushing defense, LeGarrette Blount, James White, and the newly-returned Dion Lewis were able to gain yards on the ground and catch passes out of the backfield. If the running back corps can give the Patriots any type of consistency, then the offense is just that much dangerous.
Next up, the Patriots take on the New York Jets.
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