The New England Patriots made a statement in their 30-32 win over the Baltimore Ravens in NFL action on Monday.
Tom Brady had his ninth career 400-yard passing game as the Patriots shredded the Ravens' defence at Gillette Stadium.
Baltimore's top-ranked defense was not very ravenous as the Patriots carved it up. The Ravens sacked Brady just once as he feasted with 406 passing yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-38 passing.
The Patriots racked up 496 yards off offense with 95 rushing yards against the league's best rush defense.
Not helping matters for the Ravens was when cornerback Jimmy Smith exited with an ugly right ankle injury in the first quarter. The Ravens also lost centre Jeremy Zuttah in the first half with a concussion.
The Ravens spotted the Patriots 16 points and New England were poised to add to their lead before Eric Weddle picked off Brady in the end zone to steal some momentum in the second quarter.
Baltimore rallied behind Joe Flacco's 324 passing yards and got within 23-20 in the fourth quarter before Brady struck again.
Brady found a wide-open Chris Hogan for a 79-yard touchdown with less than seven minutes remaining. Hogan finished with five catches for 129 yards.
Despite his inexplicable interception, which was thrown right to Weddle, Brady once again came up huge when the Patriots needed him to.
He was yelling at his team-mates on the sideline to get them fired and up focused. The 39-year-old Brady has shown this season that, even after missing the first four games, he could be the league MVP for the third time in his career.
Brady has now thrown 22 touchdown passes this season to just two interceptions.
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"He was not the primary receiver on that play, but he saw what I saw and adjusted his route," Brady said of Hogan's game-sealing touchdown. "We needed it."
PATRIOTS CLOSING IN
The Patriots (11-2) are now a game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) for the top seed in the AFC. One more victory will lock up the AFC East and move New England closer to gaining home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Baltimore (7-6), meanwhile, fell behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) in the AFC North, but will meet the Steelers on Christmas in Pittsburgh. Losing at Heinz Field would put Baltimore's playoff chances in jeopardy.