DETROIT – Tom Brady was perfect on the field and the Lions suffered a familiar Thanksgiving Day fate.
Brady threw a season-high four touchdown passes, all in the second half, and the New England Patriots routed the Detroit Lions 45-24 on Thursday after trailing by 11 late in the second quarter.
“We showed some resiliency, coming out in the second half and playing the way we did when the crowd was into it,” Brady said.
New England (9-2) moved a half-game ahead of the AFC East rival New York Jets – who played Cincinnati on Thursday night – for the NFL’s best record, setting up a showdown at home Dec. 6.
“I don’t think we’re at where we need to be at,” Brady said. “But this is a tough group.”
No one in the red, white and blue is tougher than Brady.
After taking a ton of shots early in the game, the three-time Super Bowl winner and two-time MVP bounced back to complete 21 of 27 passes for 341 yards with no interceptions, giving him a perfect rating of 158.3 for the second time in his career.
“He’s like a surgeon,” Detroit center Dominic Raiola said.
Brady threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Deion Branch early in the fourth quarter after connecting with him on a 79-yarder to tie it at 24. Wes Welker’s second TD reception sealed the victory with 6:42 left, putting the Patriots ahead by two TDs and making their double-digit deficit a distant memory.
“When you outscore a team 35-7 in the second half, a lot of things have to go right,” New England coach Bill Belichick said.
The Lions (2-9) are used to things going wrong, especially on Thanksgiving.
Detroit has lost a franchise-record seven straight games – by an average of nearly 23 points – in its annual showcase.
“This one is really tough because we gave everybody so much hope,” Raiola said. “We were up 14-3, Ford Field was going crazy and then boom, boom, boom.”
New England’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for two TDs, matching a career high. His second one capped the scoring with 3:14 left and led to several pushing and shoving matches with the frustrated Lions.
Shaun Hill was 27 of 46 for 285 yards with one TD – to Calvin Johnson at the end of the first quarter that put the Lions up 7-3 – and two interceptions to rookie cornerback Devin McCourty.
Maurice Morris ran for two TDs, matching his total in two seasons in Detroit. Morris’ first score put Detroit ahead 14-3 with 5:58 left in the first half.