(Tom Brady photos courtesy of the New England Patriots)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Consider that a warning.
After sitting out four weeks, Tom Brady was supposed to be rusty his first game back. Well, if that was a rusty Brady we just saw, heaven help the rest of the schedule.
It wasn’t that Brady was good. It was that he was damned-near perfect, throwing for three touchdowns and 406 yards en route to a 33-13 beatdown of the Cleveland Browns.
Okay, so it’s the Browns. But Brady was so sharp after his league-enforced timeout you have to wonder if commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t do him ... and the Patriots ... a favor by sitting him for a month.
First of all, it has to motivate Brady, convinced he was wronged by a league office that never heard of Ideal Gas Law. Second, it reduces Brady's regular season to 12 games instead of 16, sparing him four games of punishment -- important for a 39-year-old playing this game. And, third, it motivates Brady's teammates, on a mission now to duplicate their 2007 season.
That, of course, was the "Spygate" era when the Pats were punished after the opening game of the season and when they responded by burying their next 17 opponents. Well, they just scored 33 in Brady's return, and get used to it. In 2007, they averaged 41.9 points over their first seven games following "Spygate" sanctions – and never scored fewer than 34.
This just might be déjà vu all over again.
(Matt Ryan photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons)
- That was another signature win for Atlanta, and let's be honest: It's time to believe in the Falcons. They beat Carolina. They won at Denver. All I know is those two teams not only are two of the best at home; they also were the two best in the NFL last season.
- The Falcons' weak link is supposed to be defense, but the last two weeks it beat up Cam Newton, the reigning MVP, and beat Denver's offensive line for six sacks.
- Like it or not, there's a quarterback controversy waiting to happen in Dallas.
- Ryan Tannehill isn’t the only concern in Miami. So is a defense that was just gashed for 236 yards rushing … by Tennessee.
- Minnesota was supposed to be handicapped by the Adrian Peterson injury, but this just in: The Vikings run more without him. They averaged 25 rushes per game with Peterson; they average 31.3 rushes per game without him.
- It's not just Ryan Fitzpatrick who's holding the Jets back. It's a defense that was supposed to be the backbone of this team. The Jets have surrendered a league-worst eight plays of 40 or more yards and three of 60 or longer. Worse, opposing quarterbacks complete 71 percent of their passes for 12 TDs and two interceptions. Pee-you.
- Not sure which is worse: San Diego in the fourth quarter or Rutgers in any quarter. That’s 10 straight AFC West losses for the Bolts, and it should be curtains for Mike McCoy.
- Don’t blame that Eagles' loss on Carson Wentz. The defense collapsed.
- And that, people, is what you have in Brock Osweiler, sans a lights-out defense. Houston, you have a problem.
- That’s 20 sacks of Andrew Luck, and, yes, the Colts should be worried. Not only can't they protect the quarterback; they can't play defense. Remember, they just surrendered 522 yards to … Brian Hoyer and the Bears? We don’t make 'em up.
- The 49ers should go to Colin Kaepernick. If they're going to run the quarterback 22 times, which they did the past two games, they might as well have Kaepernick do the running.
- Let's just get it over with now, and mail the Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year trophy to Ezekiel Elliott.
- Book it: Adam Vinatieri, Hall of Famer.
- The more I see of Cleveland, the more I think Brian Billick might be right.
- Cleveland may be winless, but the Browns aren’t the worst team out there. Miami is.
- So now Frank Gore has passed Jim Brown for ninth on the all-time rushing list. That still doesn’t convince me he belongs in Canton.
- Once upon a time, Atlanta's Vic Beasley compared himself to Von Miller. That was 2015, prior to the NFL draft. On Sunday, he looked more like Von Miller than Miller, with 3-1/2 sacks vs. the Broncos … er, tackle Ty Sambrailo, who served as a turnstile for Beasley.
- Gotta love Oakland's Jack Del Rio. Once again, he gambles, and once again he wins. On fourth-and-3 at the San Diego 21, late in the third quarter and down 24-19, he passes up the sure field goal for a pass to the right corner of the end zone … and a touchdown. The Raiders never trailed again. For the record, the last time the Raiders were 4-1 was …uh-huh, 2002, or the last time they had a winning record.
- No Mario Williams, no problem in Buffalo. Lorenzo Alexander's six sacks are one more than Williams had all of last season with the Bills and five more than Williams has in 2016 … with Miami. Alexander's previous career high was two-and-a-half sacks.
- We won't find out how good Pittsburgh is next weekend. The Steelers play Miami. But we will Oct. 23. They play New England ... in Pittsburgh.
WHAT WE LEARNED … Houston stinks on the road. The Texans are 0-2, outscored 58-13, and are 7-for-28 on third downs – including 1 for 13 Sunday. The Washington Redskins aren’t going away. That was their third straight win and second straight on the road. Pittsburgh, not Baltimore, is the team to beat in the AFC North. Oakland is legit and could be 7-1 ... should be 6-2 ... when it meets Denver Nov. 6. Reason: Its next three opponents are, in order, Chiefs (2-2); Jags (1-3) and Bucs (1-3). Martellus Bennett is the perfect complement to Rob Gronkowski. Mike McCoy should get in touch with his real-estate agent … pronto. Melvin Gordon won't be doing All-State commercials.... AND WHAT WE DIDN’T What Adam Gase has done for Ryan Tannehill. Where there's a weakness in Minnesota. Why anyone should believe in Cincinnati. Why, if Ben McAdoo's pre-game speech elicited "goose bumps," as Giants' guard Justin Pugh said, it didn't produce a better response from his players. How much longer the Rams stick with Case Keenum. Where can find Victor Cruz. Someone? Anyone? What's wrong with the Baltimore offense. How Detroit found holes in a Philadelphia defense where others could not.SUNDAY'S HALL OF FAMERNew England QB Tom Brady. This is too easy. It doesn’t matter if footballs are blown up, stuffed or deflated. The guy is better throwing them than anyone on the planet. Skeptics thought a four-game suspension might slow down Brady, but tell that to the Cleveland Browns. They got reamed, steamed and dry cleaned by Tom Terrific … and this is just the beginning, folks.SUNDAY'S HALL OF SHAMERSan Diego P Drew Kaser. He shanks a fourth-quarter punt. He fumbles away the snap for a game-tying field goal. In short, he choked when it mattered most ... and, as we say, bad teams find ways to lose -- with the Chargers the proof. Um, tell me again why it was such a good idea to get rid of Mike Scifres. .