FOXBOROUGH — “A pretty perfect day.”
That was how Tom Brady summed up his Sunday, a day in which the quarterback was able to spend quality time with his family before chalking up a quality win with his teammates.
The Patriots emerged from the fog with their third straight win by putting together their best 60 minutes of football this season. Big plays on offense, defense, and special teams translated into plenty of smiles in the aftermath, and Brady was sporting the biggest.
“I thought everyone was really focused and everyone did a great job of really homing in on what we needed to do,’’ Brady said of the 23-7 win over the Falcons. “[We were] playing a team that’s very talented on all sides of the ball — explosive playmakers — and we did a good job of taking care of [the ball] and getting it off them.’’
Brady began the day with some pumpkin carving with his children and parents and ended it with a 121.2 passer rating after completing 21 of 29 passes for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Brady’s mother, Galynn, whose battle with breast cancer over the last year has been well-chronicled, came to town and was on the field with Tom Sr. before the game as part of the league’s Crucial Catch campaign to raise awareness of all types of cancer.
The quarterback said it meant a lot to have his parents on hand.
“It was great for them to be here and be in attendance and for us to win while they’re here, too,” he said. “It’s been a while since that happened.
“But that was very special for me. Just happy for my mom. I mean, what she’s been through is pretty challenging and challenging for my dad, challenging for all the people out there that are battling cancer and other diseases.
“You can’t take anything for granted, so I love the time I get with her.’’
While fans often take Brady’s consistency for granted, Sunday was more of a well-rounded win for New England, which improved to 5-2 as it keeps just ahead of the pack in the surprisingly competitive AFC East, where the Bills and Dolphins check in at 4-2.
The Patriots defense, often criticized this season for its inability to stop the big play, flipped the script against the Falcons. Instead of getting burned for big plays, Matt Patricia’s group was the one changing the momentum.
In other words, they were downright Brady-like. Coming up big in the biggest moments.
Among the highlights were a goal-line stand and a pair of fourth-down stops, both of which led to points for the Patriots.
The first fourth-down stop sparked the New England offense to a touchdown right before the half, extending the lead to 17-0. There still were 30 minutes left to play, but that gut shot effectively knocked the Falcons out.
The second fourth-down stop early in the fourth quarter ended what had been Atlanta’s best chance to score to that point. The Patriots capitalized on that one, too, marching 74 yards and increasing the advantage to 23-0 on the third of Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals.
“That was really a night of big plays for them, and so many guys, they were rushing the quarterback and covering those receivers,’’ said Brady. “Those guys are very talented and Matt [Ryan] had to squeeze a bunch of throws in there.
“They had some big stops in the red area, and then obviously the fourth-down plays were huge. That was great complementary football and everyone did a good job contributing.’’
In the afterglow of the victory, Brady was asked if this team had finally found its identity.
“It’s different week to week,’’ he said. “I think we’ve got to find different ways to win. I mean, playing great defense, that’s always great for us. Running the ball efficiently, throwing efficiently is really important.
“It will be a new set of challenges this week, and we have to meet them. There’s really no carryover week to week in the NFL
“This is good, you learn from it and then you move on. You know, our identity changed a lot. We’re very much a game-plan team, and we’ll keep being that. Hopefully we can keep going out and executing at a high level.’’
The next challenge comes Sunday when the Chargers, who are riding a three-game winning streak, come to town.