FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady marched the New England Patriots up and down the field where they rarely lose, and they dominated the stingiest defense in the NFL.
Brady threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns in a pass-heavy offense against the league’s top run defense and the Patriots stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 34-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Patriots led 24-6 at halftime as Brady repeatedly found wide-open receivers while the Lions struggled on offense again. For the second straight game, Detroit failed to score a touchdown.
New England (9-2) routed a division leader for the third straight week, following wins over Denver and Indianapolis, and improved to 44-3 in their last 47 regular-season home games.
Detroit (7-4) lost for the second straight week against a conference leader. It fell to Arizona 14-6 a week earlier.
The Patriots, the NFL’s highest-scoring team going in, showed once again they could do whatever it takes to exploit a defense.
In the 42-20 win over the Colts, they stuck with the running game as Jonas Gray rushed 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns. After being sent home from Friday’s practice for reporting late, he didn’t play at all on Sunday. The Patriots ran more in the fourth quarter, culminating with LeGarrette Blount’s second touchdown, a 1-yarder just three days after signing following his release by Pittsburgh.
The Lions bore little resemblance to the team that had allowed the fewest points in the NFL. They had given up just 68.6 yards rushing per game, so Brady threw frequently — and quickly to avoid the rush.
He finished with 38 completions in 53 attempts with one interception, with Julian Edelman catching 11 passes.
The Lions managed just three field goals by Matt Prater as quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled. He completed 18 of 46 passes for264 yards and one interception while the Patriots shut down his two star receivers. Golden Tate had just four catches after entering the game third in the NFL with 68. And Calvin Johnson was held to four receptions for 58 yards.
Special teams gave the Patriots a huge boost in the first half when Ryan Allen boomed a 66-yard punt and Danny Amendola returned a kickoff 81 yards.
Detroit lost 6 yards on the series after the punt. Then, New England took a 7-3 lead on the next possession on Brady’s 4-yard pass to Tim Wright.
The Lions came back to get a first-and-goal at the 3 but managed just a 20-yard field goal by Prater.
Amendola’s long return on the subsequent kickoff set the Patriots up at the Detroit 22. And when they also got a first-and-goal at the 3, they took full advantage on the next play with a touchdown run by Blount less than a minute after Prater’s field goal.
Even when Detroit put New England in poor field position, a punt by Sam Martin that went out of bounds at the 7, the Patriots couldn’t be stopped. They marched 93 yards, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Brady to Wright for a 21-6 lead.
And when Prater’s 53-yard field-goal attempt went wide to the left with 35 seconds left in the half, consecutive completions to Rob Gronkowski of 24 and 23 yards set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal for a 24-6 halftime lead.