Tom Brady became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 50,000 yards, hitting Rob Gronkowski on a 27-yard pass against Cincinnati and then adding two touchdown passes as the New England Patriots opened a 37-17 lead early in the fourth quarter Sunday night.
One play after surpassing the milestone, Brady connected with Tim Wright for a 17-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead through one quarter and prompted fans to chant the 37-year-old quarterback's name. Brady hit Gronkowski on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and, on the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Tate fumbled and Kyle Arrington returned it 9 yards for a touchdown that made it 34-10.
Stevan Ridley had a 1-yard touchdown run, running 19 times for 94 yards through three quarters, and Stephen Gostkowski had three field goals.
Brady entered the game needing 60 yards to reach 50,000 career yards passing and topped it in the first quarter while leading New England to touchdowns on its first two possessions. One week after the second-biggest loss of his career, a 41-14 Kansas City Chiefs victory, Brady completed 20 of 30 passes for 255 yards through three quarters.
Wright, who was acquired from Tampa Bay for six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Logan Mankins, had five catches for 85 yards, and Gronkowski had six for 100.
Andy Dalton completed 12 of 20 passes for 177 yards and two second-half touchdowns, a 37-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu and a 17-yarder to A.J. Green that made it 34-17 with 3:43 left in the third quarter. Green had four catches for 71 yards and Sanu caught four passes for 66.
The Patriots scored on Gostkowski's 48-yard field goal with 1:17 left in the first half, then took advantage after Darrelle Revis forced A.J. Green's fumble deep in Bengals' territory. Brady led New England to the 1, and Gostkowski's field goal made it 20-3.
The Patriots' loss to the Chiefs on Monday night led to a week of questions about whether their aging quarterback's skills had diminished. But Brady again looked like a three-time Super Bowl champion, leading New England easily to its first two touchdowns.
Brady was 2 for 2 for 50 yards on the opening possession, and he also ran the ball three times, gaining 4 yards on a fourth-and-1 at the 5. He then tried again for no gain before Ridley ran it in the final yard to make it 7-0.
The Bengals, the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, moved to the New England 34 on the ensuing possession but Mike Nugent was short on a 52-yard field goal attempt. Brady took the Patriots in, hitting Gronkowski for the milestone and then Wright for the score on the next play.
The second period was sloppier, with the teams combining for eight penalties for 91 yards. New England was penalized eight times for 84 yards in the first half.