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Pats’ Brady climbs higher in stats rankings

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The Sports Xchange

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In completing 34 of 54 passes for 355 yards in Sunday’s 30-23 win over the New York Jets, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became just the fifth NFL quarterback to surpass 55,000 career passing yards, doing so with his 68th career 300-yard passing performance.

Brady’s 55,312 career passing yards are behind only Brett Favre (71,838), Peyton Manning (71,215 and counting), Dan Marino (61,361) and Drew Brees (57,904 and counting).

Brady also established a New England franchise record with his 213th career start, passing Bruce Armstrong (offensive tackle, 212 games 1987-2000).

Brady’s effort against New York had an even more remarkable stat. It was the first time in his 16-year career that he led the Patriots in rushing. Brady had four attempts for 15 yards, including an 11-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown run.

“I actually enjoyed this because it will probably never happen again,” Brady said smiling before describing his 11-yard scramble. “They had pretty good coverage, and I just saw a little seam. So, I just kind of rumbled toward the goal line, and it’s good when I have the threat of the ball in my hand because they’re not quite sure if they can go drill me or not. I just try to keep pump-faking as long as I can to keep them all at bay.”

–Defensive end Rob Ninkovich was credited with four passes defensed thanks to batted balls against New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s as many as team leader Malcolm Butler had in the first five games combined. Though the veteran edge player was happy to knock down the Jets throws, he was also disappointed he wasn’t able to turn any of the plays into turnovers.

“I think anytime the ball comes out quick, the trajectory is lower, so any time it’s a quick passing game, you can get your hands on the ball. You just have to obviously read the quarterback, get your hands up and match the throwing arm,” Ninkovich said. “So coming into this week, they didn’t have many sacks. They only had two on the year, so you knew that the ball was coming out quick. They wanted to have quick hidden routes, and as a front, you get your hands up, knock passes down. I should’ve caught a couple of them, Jeez.”

–The Patriots offense had just 18 players active and dressed on Sunday, a number that included backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Slater, the special teams captain who is a wide receiver in roster description only.

“Very rare,” Belichick said of the low numbers. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone in with that few players. Really, you count Slater as one of them, but really he’s … you know how many plays he’s played on offense in his career here. We were pretty thin all the way across. The guys all stepped up and did a really good job. But we had to have a lot of ironmen out there.”

–Wide receiver Brandon LaFell returned from PUP to see significant action against the Jets. The results, though, were not what the veteran and his teammates were looking for. Having missed the entire offseason because of a foot injury that dates back to last season, LaFell looked very rusty and did not have good timing on his routes. He was targeted eight times but finished with just two catches for 25 yards, thanks largely to, unofficially, five drops.

“If I had to give myself a grade, it would be an ‘F.’ I let the ball get out of my hands too many times,” LaFell said afterward. “Tom (Brady) threw some good balls, I should have caught them. But overall we got the win. I just have to get back to it. We have a short week. Dust the cobwebs off and come back out here and play.

“First game, last game — it doesn’t matter. I expect more out of myself and my teammates expect more from me. I’m just really down on myself right now, but I’m happy for the other guys around me, stepping their level of play up and held on for us, and made plays when we needed it.”

Notes: Running back Dion Lewis (abdominal) missed a game for the first time this season. . . . Running back Brandon Bolden (hamstring) was inactive for the first time this season. . . . Guard Shaq Mason (knee) was inactive and missed a game for the first time this year. . . . Among the inactives were defensive end Jabaal Sheard (ankle), tackle Marcus Cannon (toe), linebacker Rufus Johnson (illness) and wide receiver Keshawn Martin (hamstring). . . . Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ribs) returned to the starting lineup and offensive tackle Cameron Fleming notched his third career start, his first at the right tackle spot, where he filled in for Marcus Cannon.


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