Welcome back good Tom Brady.
Coming off his worst day in a long time, Brady was back on track Sunday afternoon in Oakland, as the Patriots rebounded from their loss in Buffalo last week with a 31-19 win over the upstart Raiders.
Brady last Sunday was derailed for a four-interception performance, but played well, going for 226 yards, two touchdowns and committing no turnovers.
Wes Welker caught nine passes for 158 yards and a score, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley added rushing touchdowns and the Patriots (3-1) played a mostly mistake-free game.
This time the interception that changed the game was made by New England instead of thrown by Brady. Patrick Chung got a gift-wrapped pick in the end zone late in the first half when Jason Campbell inexplicably threw the ball right to the safety with no receiver in the area for the Raiders (2-2).
Campbell threw another interception early in the fourth quarter to 325-pound defensive lineman Vince Wilfork as the Raiders were unable to give the energized sellout crowd much to cheer about after the opening minutes.
The Raiders committed nine penalties for 85 yards, including a pair of personal fouls on New England’s opening drive by former Patriots star Richard Seymour.
But the biggest mistake was the one made by Campbell at the end of the first half.
The Raiders were at the New England 6 and in position to take a 17-14 lead when Campbell stepped up in the pocket and threw the ball directly to Chung.
The Patriots drove for a 44-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski in the closing seconds of the half. New England then took the opening kickoff of the second down the field for a score on Ridley’s 33-yard run so the Raiders trailed 24-10 by the time Campbell took his next snap.
Oakland settled for a field goal deep in New England territory late in the third quarter after the officials overturned a pass interference call against the Patriots.
New England answered with another touchdown drive capped by Brady’s 4-yard pass to Deion Branch that made it 31-13 and gave him 274 career TDs, passing his boyhood hero Joe Montana for ninth place all time. That also tied Peyton Manning’s record of 13 straight games with at least two TD passes.
New England’s much-maligned defense did enough despite losing star linebacker Jerod Mayo in the first half to a knee injury and allowing 504 yards.
The Patriots held an opponent to under 20 points for the first time this season, a drastic change from last week’s 34-31 loss to the Bills.
Darren McFadden, the NFL’s leading rusher, had 75 yards on 14 carries. Campbell finished 25 for 39 for 344 yards, but the Raiders only made it into the end zone once before Campbell’s 6-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore with 28 seconds left.
Brady, who threw for a record 1,327 yards the first three games, needed to do much less against the Raiders. He completed 16 of 30 passes as New England did plenty of damage on the ground with Ridley rushing for 97 yards and Green-Ellis adding 75.
Buoyed by a sellout crowd and big-game atmosphere, the Raiders came out fast with Campbell completing four of five passes for 57 yards in the opening drive to set up a 28-yard field goal by Sebatsian Janikowski.
But that emotion also hurt the Raiders with Seymour being called for unnecessary roughness for throwing Brady to the ground after a delay of game penalty and a facemask later on a TD drive.