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Patriots at Vikings: Game Notes

ROAD WARRIORS
The Patriots won their sixth straight regular-season road game and triumphed away from Gillette Stadium for the seventh time in their last eight road contests. Since their last road loss (11/27/05 at Kansas City), the Patriots have outscored their opponents 187-71 in their six straight road wins.

FOUR SCORES
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes against the Vikings, tying his career high. Brady also threw four touchdown passes against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 22, 2002 and achieved the feat against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 11, 2001. The game against Minnesota marked the first time Brady has thrown for four touchdowns on the road and was his first four-touchdown game in more than four years.

PICK PARTYThe New England defense intercepted Minnesota quarterbacks four times, marking the Patriots' first three-interception game of the season and their first three-pick game since Dec. 11, 2005, when they intercepted Buffalo's J.P. Losman three times. Coming into the Vikings game, the Patriots had recorded four interceptions in their first six games of the season.

TENTH MONTH TAKEAWAYS
Following four interceptions against the Vikings, the Patriots recorded 12 takeaways in the month of October. Last week against Buffalo the Patriots forced four turnovers, three weeks ago against Miami (Oct. 8) the Patriots forced three turnovers, and four weeks ago against Cincinnati, the Patriots forced two turnovers. In contrast, the Patriots have recorded just four giveaways in their four October games, and own a solid plus-eight turnover differential for the month.

HEATING UP
Tom Brady posted a season-best 115.6 passer rating, completing 29-of-43 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Brady posted an increase in his passer rating for the fifth straight game. After posting a rating of 82.3 in the season opener against the Bills on Sept. 10, Brady's passer rating has climbed steadily each week – starting at 73.9 on Sept. 17 against the Jets and then improving to 79.4 on Sept. 24 against the Broncos; 89.9 on Oct. 1 against the Bengals; 91.2 on Oct. 8 against Miami; 112.4 against the Bills on Oct. 22; and 115.6 against the Vikings. Brady's rating against Minnesota was his highest since posting a 122.8 rating against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 17, 2005.

MILESTONE MANTom Brady threw for a season-high 372 yards, exceeding the 300-yard passing mark for the second time this season and for the 17th time in his regular season and playoff career. Brady's 372 yards ties the second highest yardage total of his career, equaling his total against Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, 2005. His career high for yardage is 410 yards, set on Sept. 22, 2002 in a 41-38 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

TOMMY GUN
Tom Brady threw for 257 yards in the first half, completing 17-of-25 passes. His 257 yards were his highest yardage total for any half in his career. His previous career high for a half was 226 yards, achieved in the second half of a 2005 divisional playoff game at Denver on Jan. 14, 2006. Brady's 257 yards were the second highest first-half total in franchise history, trailing only Drew Bledsoe's total of 271 yards in the first half of the 1997 regular-season opener against San Diego at Foxboro Stadium on Aug. 31, 1997.

RODNEY HARRISON
Rodney Harrison intercepted Minnesota's Brad Johnson on the goal line in the first quarter to halt a Minnesota drive. The interception was Harrison's first of the season and the 32nd of his regular-season career. Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2003 season, Harrison now has recorded six interceptions in the regular-season and six in the playoffs for a grand total of 12 picks. Dating back to the beginning of the 2004 regular season (and including playoff games), six of Harrison's last seven interceptions have come inside the opponents' 20-yard line, with five of the seven coming inside the 4-yard line (including two in the end zone and one on the goal line).

RECORDING SUCCESS

With tonight's win, Tom Brady improved his career record as a starter to...

10-0 in indoor stadiums

19-1 on artificial turf

20-4 against NFC opponents

34-1 when posting a passer rating of 100.0 or higher

55-2 when leading at halftime

60-1 when leading after three quarters

74-22 in regular season and playoff games

TOP RETURN MAN
Laurence Maroney returned a kickoff 77 yards in the third quarter, setting up Troy Brown's 7-yard touchdown catch from Tom Brady that gave the Patriots a 24-7 lead. Just last week against Buffalo, Maroney returned a kickoff 74 yards to set up a Patriots touchdown, a feat that earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Following his 77-yard return against the Vikings, Maroney was tied for the NFL lead in kickoff return average with the New York Jets' Justin Miller, averaging 29.7 yards per return (14 returns for 416 yards). Maroney's play against the Vikings came at a key moment in the game, immediately following a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown by Minnesota's Mewelde Moore that had cut New England's lead to 17-7.

CALDWELL SCORES
Reche Caldwell scored his first touchdown as a member of the Patriots, hauling in a 6-yard scoring catch from Tom Brady to cap off the Patriots' opening drive and give New England a 7-0 lead. The scoring grab was the seventh touchdown of Caldwell's five-year career, and his first touchdown since hauling in a 28-yard touchdown while playing for the San Diego Chargers against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 2, 2005.

GREAT SCOTT
Cornerback Chad Scott recorded his first interception in a Patriots uniform when he picked off a deep pass by Brad Johnson at the Patriots' 29-yard line in the second quarter. The interception was the 20th of Scott's 10-year career and his first since Oct. 3, 2004.

MR. PATRIOT
Troy Brown scored his third touchdown of the season and the 30th receiving touchdown of his career on a 7-yard reception from Tom Brady in the third quarter to give the Patriots a 24-7 lead.

LONG RUN FOR EVANS
Heath Evans ran for a 35-yard gain in the fourth quarter, recording the longest rush of his career. Prior to that run, the longest rush of Evans' career was a 21-yard jaunt against Miami on Nov. 13, 2005.

ROOKIE RECEIVER
Rookie wide receiver Chad Jackson scored a touchdown for the second straight week, hauling in a 10-yard scoring strike from Brady in the final seconds of the third quarter. The touchdown gives Jackson three scores for the season and three for his seven-game NFL career.

STARTING STRONG
The Patriots opened the game with a 7-play, 86-yard touchdown drive, marking the second straight game in which the Patriots reached the end zone on their opening drive. Prior to last week's game against Buffalo, the Patriots had gone six straight regular-season games without scoring on their first drive.

BIG BENJAMIN
Tight end Benjamin Watson hauled in his first touchdown pass of the season, scoring on a 9-yard catch from Tom Brady with 31 seconds left in the first half to give the Patriots a 17-0 lead. The scoring grab was the fifth of Watson's regular-season career.

DEEP MAN
Doug Gabriel's 45-yard reception from Tom Brady in the first quarter was tied for the second longest reception of his career, behind only a 58-yard touchdown reception for the Raiders on Sept. 12, 2004. The reception was the longest of the season for a Patriots wide receiver and was Tom Brady's longest completion since Nov. 20, 2005, when he found Andre Davis for a 60-yard touchdown in a 24-17 win over the New Orleans Saints.

QUICK HITS

  • The Patriots completed passes of 45 yards, 40 yards and 34 yards in the first half. Prior to tonight's game, the Patriots had not completed a pass longer than 35 yards this season.
  • Billy Yates made his first career start tonight, beginning the game at left guard.
  • Corey Dillon's 27-yard reception in the third quarter was his longest reception since Sept. 10, 2000, when he hauled in a 31-yard pass while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals against Cleveland.
  • Tully Banta-Cain dropped Brad Johnson for a 2-yard sack in the second quarter. The sack gave Banta-Cain 1.5 sacks for the year and 4.5 sacks for his career.
  • Benjamin Watson's 45-yard catch in the second quarter was the longest grab of his regular-season career.
  • Tom Brady began the game with seven straight pass completions, good for 100 yards and a touchdown.
  • Asante Samuel batted away a Brad Johnson pass intended for Bethel Johnson in the end zone in the first quarter.
  • Samuel reached in to save a touchdown by batting down a pass from Brad Johnson intended for a streaking Troy Williamson in the third quarter.
  • Richard Seymour batted down a Brad Johnson pass on fourth down in the third quarter, halting a Minnesota drive and giving the Patriots possession at the Vikings' 39-yard line.

DRIVE ENDERS
Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin combined to shut down the Vikings' first drive of the game. On first-and-10 from the Patriots' 40-yard line, Colvin stuffed Minnesota's Chester Taylor for no gain. On second-and-10, Seau stuffed Taylor in the backfield for a 1-yard loss. Brad Johnson threw an incomplete pass on third-and-11, ending Minnesota's drive and setting a solid early defensive tone for the Patriots.

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