FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady made history Sunday. But the evidence nearly disappeared about as quickly as the Jaguars’ chances of beating the Patriots.
Brady joined an exclusive club by throwing his 400th touchdown pass in the 51-17 blowout of the defenseless Jaguars on an absolutely picture-perfect day for football at Gillette Stadium.
For the record, Brady hit No. 400 on a 1-yard dart to Danny Amendola with 18 seconds left in the first half. However, in a somewhat comical twist, the keepsake ball was almost lost forever when Amendola capped his scoring celebration by handing off the prized pigskin to a fan in the end zone seats.
“I didn’t realize until I was halfway back to the sideline that I gave the 400 ball away,’’ said Amendola, who had said during the week that if he was fortunate to snag the milestone ball he would present it to Brady. “But we got it back. [Tom’s] got it. So it’s good. It was a great pass, a great play, and we ended up getting 6 points out of it.’’
The gaffe was no big deal to Brady, who quipped, “I don’t care. It’s just a ball. But I had a lot of fun. Danny can do whatever he wants . . . he made a great catch.’’
Despite the enormity of the moment, there wasn’t a lot of time to soak it in on the sideline — not with another 30-plus minutes of football to go.
“Just a high-five really,’’ said Amendola when asked if there was any sideline celebration of the accomplishment. “Tom’s such a competitor, he’s not really focused on records or anything like that but just to win the game is what he’s looking for.’’
Julian Edelman agreed. There was a subtle acknowledgment of the feat, but no time to dwell on it.
“You congratulate him and you think about the next series,’’ said Edelman, who caught a game-high eight passes for 85 yards. “It’s an unbelievable accomplishment and you’re not surprised. It’s good to see Tom get 400, but now we move on.’’
The 66,829 fans certainly did their share of celebrating after the milestone moment, raucously chanting Brady’s name in unison.
“We’ve had some great support here over the years,’’ said Brady. “I always say I hope we can give them something to cheer about out there. We’ve got great fans, and it was great. It was a special day . . . I was happy.’’
Amendola’s errant handoff was just a minor blip on an otherwise spectacular day for the franchise quarterback, who continued his unprecedented assault on the record books in his 16th season.
Looking as locked in and as steely-eyed as ever, the 38-year-old Brady, who tied the franchise record with his 211th game played (Bruce Armstrong), completed 33 of 42 passes for 358 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Brady has thrown for 1,112 yards and 9 TDs without an interception and his 96 completions (on 133 attempts) is the most through three games in NFL history. Through three games of the Patriots’ 16-0 2007 season, Brady had 887 yards, 10 TDs, and 1 interception.
Brady sits behind only Peyton Manning (533), Brett Favre (508), and Dan Marino (420). Counting the postseason, Brady (454) trails just Manning (571) and Favre (552).
Additionally, Brady masterfully orchestrated an offense (he hit nine receivers) that scored 50 or more points for the eighth time — that’s tops in NFL history.
Amendola, Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski (“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment — he deserves everything he gets’’) are used to seeing Brady’s exploits. Newcomer Keshawn Martin could only admire from afar until Sunday, when he made his Patriots debut and ended up hauling in Brady’s 401st scoring strike.
“He’s just a great quarterback, probably the smartest guy to play the position,’’ said Martin, who scored on a 13-yard pass in the third quarter. “He just knows what to do with the ball, and he makes life as a receiver, and tight ends, everybody, just easier.’’
Martin, who came over from the Texans in a Sept. 17 trade, said he’s been working hard to crack the lineup.
“I just really wanted to get out there and make sure I secured every catch that I had thrown my way. Tom, on the one play, it was a scramble, I worked back out and got a touchdown out of it,’’ he said.
It wasn’t just his teammates and the crowd that was impressed by Brady’s performance. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the QB is unflappable.
“His poise is very good,’’ said Bradley, whose team managed two sacks but for the most part could not dial up pressure because of Brady’s laser release. “He knows the different looks. You try to create some confusion but he knows where to go with the ball and he’s got guys that make plays for him. If it’s maybe a little bit misthrown, his guys make plays for him. He’s playing really well right now.’’
The way Brady’s humming, it would be easy to make a case that he is playing his best football. It’s not a conversation he wants any part of, though.
“You know, I’m just happy we’re 3-0,’’ said Brady, who now gets a week off. “So thank you.’’
That’s the fans’ sentiments, too.