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Brady's passes too much for Vikings as Patriots roll



Published: Tue, October 31, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tom Brady passed for 372 yards and threw touchdowns to four receivers.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Tom Brady beat Minnesota's relentless rushing defense by simply throwing over it, over and over again.

Brad Johnson? He was no match for New England's unflappable quarterback, making a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes.

Brady passed for 372 yards and threw touchdowns to four different receivers, quieting another loud crowd and leading the Patriots past the Vikings, 31-7, Monday night.

Johnson, intercepted three times, was 20-of-33 for 185 yards. Minnesota's only score was a 71-yard punt return by Mewelde Moore, but New England rookie Laurence Maroney -- playing in the stadium where he became a college star -- answered that with a 74-yard kickoff return.

The Patriots (6-1), who have won six straight on the road, play host to Indianapolis (7-0) Sunday.

The Vikings (4-3) proved they weren't in their opponent's class just yet.

Unbeaten indoors

Brady hasn't lost in 10 NFL games indoors, but he's usually pretty good wherever he plays. Save for an up-for-grabs pass up the sideline that Darren Sharper snagged for a one-handed interception as he fell down in the first quarter, Brady was brilliant.

Vikings' first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has helped create a dominant unit fueled by a fierce front four, but his charges were embarrassed on each of New England's three first-half scoring drives.

Corey Dillon was stuffed for an 8-yard loss on the first possession, allowing Brady to account for 94 yards through the air and finish a frighteningly easy march with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell.

The Patriots drove 93 yards in eight plays to get a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski in the second quarter. And just before halftime, they moved 74 yards in 11 plays to take a 17-0 lead on a 9-yard scoring toss to tight end Ben Watson.

Dillon and Maroney came into the game, combined, with nearly 700 yards rushing, but their impact was minimal except for Maroney's momentous kickoff return.

Bad throws costly

Johnson faced far more pressure than Brady, and he made two off-target throws before halftime that cost his team big time. The first one came on third-and-goal at the Patriots' 5, a soft toss to Moore -- who complained he was held -- that wound up in Rodney Harrison's hands. Johnson was also picked off by Chad Scott when he went deep for Troy Williamson.

Minnesota's largest deficit before Monday night was 17-3 against Detroit, and they overcame that with a 23-point fourth quarter three weeks ago. But after Troy Brown's 7-yard touchdown catch, set up by Maroney's return, Minnesota was down 24-7. On the next possession, Williamson dropped a should-be touchdown on a long pass up the sideline when he failed to properly adjust to the ball as it arrived.

The Vikings, then, were out of opportunities. After a career-best 169 yards last week at Seattle, Chester Taylor was bottled up -- gaining only 22 yards on 10 carries. He suffered a shoulder stinger in the third quarter and didn't return.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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