The Patriots could not have been any farther from another touchdown.

The situation was about as dire as it gets with a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter:?backed up within their own 1-yard line, just hoping to get the drive off the ground.

Like so much else last night, it didn’t matter.

Tom Brady hit Wes Welker between a pair of defenders, neither of whom could drag the prolific pass-catcher down. By the time he crossed the Miami goal line, Welker was all alone on the field and tied atop the NFL record book with the longest reception ever.


The 99 1/2-yard scoring pass was the perfect exclamation point to the Patriots’ nearly perfect opener last night. New England won, 38-24, answering many questions along the way.

Can they get pressure on the quarterback? This year, at least, it looks like they can.

Is the ramshackle offensive line capable of keeping out the rush? Yes — even after Dan Koppen was carted off with an apparent ankle injury.

Does Brady still have it?

Oh, yeah.

The veteran quarterback was simply stunning in South Beach, throwing for a ridiculous 517 yards and four TDs. The only negative for Brady was his first interception in 358 attempts.

Brady’s single-game yardage total ranked fifth in NFL history. Norm van Brocklin holds the record with 554 yards.

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