This wasn’t quite as daunting as their climb from miles back in the third quarter to a confetti shower following overtime at the Super Bowl last February against the Falcons.
Still, the Patriots were looking up from two touchdowns down in the second quarter against the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
But just like on Super Sunday, just like he had done so many times, Tom Brady led the climb from behind.
Brady drove New England 93 yards to its first touchdown, then hit Rob Gronkowski for the tying touchdown on its last drive of the second quarter, then hit him again for the go-ahead touchdown on the first drive of the third. The Patriots ended up holding off the Jets, 24-17.
The victory didn’t just give the Pats sole possession of the AFC East lead at 4-2. It also gave the man with the most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback the most regular-season wins for one, too. This was No. 187 for New England’s iconic No. 12. That broke a tie with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
Brady, though, didn’t sound particularly happy when asked about it. The perfectionist in him was still showing through at the old football age of 40. The Patriots are still trying to find their championship form.
“I wish we would have done better, but we won, so [there is] probably a lot to learn from it,” Brady said.
The five-ringed QB went 20-for-38 for 257 yards and two touchdowns. But he also tossed an interception and had another potential one dropped. Brady was animated with anger a few times, such as after a third-down incompletion in the second quarter that preceded a missed field goal with the Pats trailing 14-7.
“Every time he gets mad, you know he’s in the game,” Gronkowski said. “It gets you fired up. Sometimes you’re scared. You got him fired up. When you know he’s in the mood, he wants the offense picked up. And he’s our leader.”
Their leader’s latest record came as news to them.
“I didn’t know that; I don’t think anybody knew that,” safety Devin McCourty said. “He doesn’t even talk [about those things]. I guess he has so many records.
“But the best thing is winning. The guy’s an unbelievable competitor. He pushes the team to other levels each week.”
Brady missed some practice time during the week with a sprained left shoulder.
“Ever since I started playing in sports, I felt like I had to be out there for my team, and I work pretty hard at it,” Brady said. “I wish I could’ve played a little better today, but it was at least nice to be out there.”
His coach arrived the same year that Brady did as a 2000 sixth-round pick. Bill Belichick appreciated his quarterback’s victory mark.
“Great,” Belichick said. “That’s what we’re all here for is to win games. We’ve been very fortunate to have had Tom at the helm for a lot of those wins.”