Tom Brady finished 29-for-35 with 376 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Bengals. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)
FOXBORO — Sunday was like a homecoming game for Tom Brady.
For the first time since the AFC divisional round against the Chiefs last January, Brady stepped on the Gillette Stadium field as he didn’t play a home game in the preseason and missed the first three home games due to his Deflategate suspension.
Sunday afternoon he returned and you could feel the excitement in the air in the hours leading up to the game with more fans entering the stadium early to get a glimpse of the quarterback as he took to the field for pregame warmups.
The support continued leading up to the game with a short video montage of the quarterback before the team came out of the locker room and a tremendous applause as he led the team out of the tunnel and on to the field. Even during the game there were a number of “Bra-dy, Bra-dy, Bra-dy” chants from the crowd.
After the game, Brady acknowledged he heard them loud and clear.
“Yeah, it has certainly – I’ve felt it,” Brady said. “They’ve had the back of our team for just the same amount of time. Since I got here in 2000, you feel that with all the teams. You feel that with the Red Sox. It’s heartbreaking when they lose like they did on Monday night. Then with the Celtics and the Bruins, and then certainly for us, we feel it every time we take the field. This is my home now; this is where my family lives. It’s a great place. I love being here and I love being quarterback of this team. Hopefully I can do it for a long time.”
As for the game itself, it was a tale of two halves. The Patriots led 10-7 at the break, but turned it on in the second half in their 35-17 rout of the Bengals. Brady was exceptional in the second half as he went 17-for-19 with 240 yards and two touchdowns.
“We played a lot better during the second half,” Brady said. “I thought our execution was a lot better. It took us a little bit of time to figure out how to kind of get our guys open, and once we did that it was good. We got the ball to a bunch of different guys in space and made a bunch of guys miss. The running game was effective when we did it, so it was a good team win.”
Overall, Brady finished the game 29-for-35 with 376 yards and three touchdowns. In his two games back following his suspension, he is 57-of-75 passing with 782 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Despite those numbers, Brady admitted he can be even better.
“I can do some things better out there and I think offensively, we can too, but it’s good to be 5-1,” he said. “I think we’re at a decent place, so we’ve just got to keep stringing these games together. There’s a ton of football left.”