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Sunday, January 1, 2012
Brady passes 5,000-yard mark

By Steven Kranser

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady crashed the 5,000-yard passing-yardage barrier in style Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

Brady hooked up with tight end Aaron Hernadez down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter, boosting his season total to 5,004 yards.

That made Brady the third player in NFL history to throw for at least 5,000 yards in a season.

Miami’s Dan Marino was the first, accumulating 5,084 yards in 1984. New Orleans’ Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards in 2008, and last week Brees slipped past Marino for the NFL record. Heading into Sunday’s game against Carolina, Brees had racked up an NFL record 5,087 yards.

The day got off to a slow start for Brady. He passed for exactly zero yards on the Pats’ first two possessions, misfiring on his only pass attempt and getting sack in his other drop-back on a pair of three-and-outs.

He heated up a bit the third time New England had the ball, with the Pats already trailing by 21-0.

A pair of short tosses to tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski accounted for 11 yards. After a running play, Brady hooked up with Hernandez for a 27-yard gain, and then an eight-yarder to Wes Welker, giving him 46 yards on a TD drive that culminated in BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ one-yard drive with 11:58 remaining in the second quarter as the Pats cut their deficit to 21-7.

That left Brady 57 yards shy of the magic 5,000.

It didn’t take long for the 12-year veteran to achieve the milestone.

On New England’s fourth possession, Brady completed passes of five- and eight yards to Welker, and then a nine-yarder to Hernandez. The next connection with Hernandez, uncovered and behind the defense on the right sideline, boosted Brady’s total yardage for the game to 107 for the game and 5,004 for the season.

The touchdown toss marked the 32nd consecutive game in which Brady has thrown for a score, extending his club record. The scoring strike pulled the Patriots to within one touchdown of the Bills, at 21-14.