April 23, 2018
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Brady’s 3 TDs help Pats rout Bucs 35-7 at Wembley

The Associated Press

WEMBLEY, England — Tom Brady connected with his receivers on the field, and everyone else on the team off it.

Brady threw three touchdown passes as the New England Patriots won the NFL’s third regular-season game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7.

The win helped the Patriots (5-2) stay on track, and allowed them time to bond.

“We don’t, as football players, often get to spend as much time together as we had all day Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, pretty much all day Monday,” Brady said. “We all went out to dinner on Friday night, which you don’t get a chance to do too often, spending 10 meals together and all sitting on the plane together.”

The win for the Patriots was their first on the road this season, since the Buccaneers (0-7) were technically the home team for their 11th straight loss.

New England got on the scoreboard early, with safety Brandon Meriweather returning an interception 39 yards for a touchdown.

“I just happened to have a good break on the ball,” Meriweather said. “I think the quarterback and receiver were on two different pages, and he just happened to throw it to me. Any big play sets the mood.”

Brady threw TD passes to Wes Welker, Sam Aiken and Benjamin Watson. He finished 23 of 32 for 308 yards and was replaced late in the game by Brian Hoyer. Laurence Maroney dashed into the end zone from 1 yard out with 9:25 left to complete the scoring.

“I’m feeling great,” Brady said. “I keep rolling. That’s two wins in a row. We went out there and put two touchdowns on the board there in the second half. We had plenty of distractions coming over here, but everybody was really energized. To get the win and fly home and have a (bye) week off is just great.”

Tampa Bay and quarterback Josh Johnson mustered little offense. The Bucs’ only score came on a 33-yard pass from Johnson to Antonio Bryant near the end of the first half. Johnson finished 9 of 26 for 156 yards and three interceptions. He was taken out midway through the fourth quarter and replaced by rookie Josh Freeman.

The game was played before a sellout crowd of 84,254 at Wembley, England’s national stadium.

It’s the third straight year the NFL has come to London for a regular-season game. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week he envisions playing multiple regular-season games in Britain in coming years with the possibility of London having its own franchise.

Sunday’s atmosphere was noisy and festive, and the dry weather left the Wembley field in good playing condition.

Brady said it even had the feel of a Super Bowl.

“All the flashbulbs were going off there before the kickoff,” the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. “They went on for about 10 minutes, which you don’t see in the States too often. I think it’s a privilege to come over here and get to enjoy this type of experience. It will probably never happen again for us, so we’ll retire 1-0 internationally.”

Even understated Patriots coach Bill Belichick was happy with the international experience.

“It’s a great way to end this week,” he said. “It’s been an enjoyable couple days here and glad we could end it on a positive note.”

The Bucs’ 11-game losing streak is their longest since 1976-77, when they endured an NFL-record 0-26 skid.

Rookie coach Raheem Morris said his team just couldn’t stop Brady.

“Tom, he’s the guy that changed the game. He’s the guy you worry about constantly,” he said. “When you have a great quarterback like that, that’s what he does and that’s what he will do for you.”

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