Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

Back from suspension, Brady looks like Brady

CLEVELAND — There's nothing to hold Tom Brady and the Patriots back now.

The air has cleared around him. He is freed. Even inflated by the past.

His fight with the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell ended long ago, and his four-game suspension has elapsed too.

He's healthy, showing no signs of any rust — or slippage at 39 — and New England's offensive arsenal has been replenished with more targets.

Brady's back. Beware.

"It's super great," Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said of the team's reunion with Brady. "He's our leader. He's our guy."

Returning from a ban for his part in Deflategate, Brady passed for 406 yards and threw three touchdowns to tight end Martellus Bennett while leading the Patriots to a 33-13 win Sunday over the Browns.

Brady stood tall in the pocket and fired passes over the middle in traffic. The two-time MVP bought time by checking his other options and floated long passes with perfect touch to Bennett and Gronkowski, his new bookend tight ends. Brady even ran for 14 yards, punctuating a scramble with a Usain Bolt-style celebration.

Simply put, Brady was Brady.

"It was fun to have him back out there," Bennett, a new Patriot, said after his first game with Brady. "He was fired up. We were fired up, and we were just trying to make plays for him."

Brady finished 28-of-40 while recording the eighth 400-yard passing game of his 17-season career. Only Drew Brees (14), Peyton Manning (14) and Dan Marino (13) have more.

And while he might have released some anger on Cleveland, Brady said he's not holding any grudges and won't look over his shoulder at the past year.

"This isn't the time for me to reflect," he said of the suspension. "I'm just happy we won, and I'm happy when we win anytime we play. I have a job to do, and there is no point in looking back at anything, whether we won Super Bowls or lost championship games. The last four weeks, none of it matters.

"I'm just trying to move on."

Also, Patriots rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones was ejected in the third quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct. The second-round pick from Alabama got tangled with Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins.

Kubiak hospitalized: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak experienced flulike symptoms and was taken to a hospital by ambulance after Denver's loss to the Falcons. Team spokesman Patrick Smyth said Kubiak was transported as a precaution about 45 minutes after the game; the team later said he had tests at the hospital. In 2013 when he was Houston's coach, Kubiak, 55, had a "mini-stroke" in a frightening scene in which he collapsed at halftime during a game against the Colts. He returned to the sideline 10 days later but was soon fired.

Chargers: No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa finally played and sacked Derek Carr twice. The former Ohio State defensive end held out in a nasty contract dispute, then suffered a hamstring injury that delayed his debut.

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