Tom Brady, looking razor-sharp at times and relatively rust-free after serving his four-game “Deflategate” suspension, passed for 406 yards and three touchdowns to Martellus Bennett in his hyped return and the New England Patriots thumped the Cleveland Browns 33-13 on Sunday.
Brady was back – much to the relief of teammates and New England fans everywhere – following a ban for his role in the scandal in which an NFL investigation found the Patriots under-inflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game.
Brady fought Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling for more than a year before he begrudgingly accepted his punishment.
Brady threw two short TD passes in the first half to Bennett before hooking up with his new teammate again on a 37-yarder to give the Patriots a 30-7 lead in the third quarter.
Brady seemed to enjoy every second of his season debut, even posing like track star Usain Bolt after a 4-yard run. Coach Bill Belichick replaced Brady with 6:02 left, greeting him on the sideline with a handshake and pat on the back.
The 39-year-old was far from perfect, overthrowing Julian Edelman for a possible long TD, but Brady spread the ball around and showed a nice touch on a few passes, including a floater to Rob Gronkowski for 37 yards in the fourth.
Unfortunately for the Browns, a rebuilding season is spiraling out of control.
Cleveland has dropped seven straight and 14 of 15 going back to last season, and Browns coach Hue Jackson is running out of quarterbacks after rookie Cody Kessler was knocked out in the first half with rib and chest injuries.
Whitehurst limped off the field with 3:57 left.