Josh Gordon’s first touchdown as a member of the New England Patriots doubled up on importance and historical significance.
There’s no questioning it was well-timed in a 38-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night, as the Patriots improved to 3-2 on the season.
New England was blowing out a hapless Indianapolis team with a 24-3 lead at the break before the team fell ill with a case of the Thursdays. Tom Brady threw a pair of interceptions in the third quarter – neither of which were even remotely his fault, with Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski popping up catchable balls into the grasp of Colt defenders.
Andrew Luck, perhaps the only player on Indianapolis who bothered to show up to Gillette Stadium on Thursday, led the Colts on a pair of touchdown drives to pull his team within a score at 24-17.
Enter Gordon, the reclamation project whose undeniable talent has never outshined the trouble he’s dealt with throughout his career. He caught a 16-yard pass from Brady on the first play after Indianapolis pulled within a touchdown, his first catch of the night, before coming down with a jump ball in the end zone from 34 yards away for his first touchdown as a Patriot.
The score deflated all momentum the Colts had reestablished, but also helped Brady reach a pair of milestones. It was career touchdown pass No. 500 for Brady, as he became just the third player in NFL history to surpass the threshold.
Gordon became the 71st different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady, giving him more touchdown receivers than any player in NFL history. Brady had been tied with former teammate Vinny Testaverde for all of four days.
"To catch any pass from Tom is amazing," said Gordon, echoing what he'd said after catching a pair of passes from Brady vs. Miami on Sunday. "Let alone some history-making pass."
"There's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady," Belichick said.
The game also marked the return of Julian Edelman from his four-game suspension, making it his first game action since Super Bowl LI after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Edelman had seven catches for 57 yards in the game, but was also the first player to cause an incompletion for Brady; the quarterback had started the game 10 for 10.
"It’s good to have him back," Belichick said. "I think we’ve got a long way to go. He had a role, certainly not a full one. We’ll see how it goes."
Brady finished up completing 34 of his 44 passes for 341 yards – his first 300-plus yard game of the season – to go along with three touchdown passes and two picks.
Cordarrelle Patterson caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to break open the game’s scoring, while Brady rushed for a 1-yard score in the second to help make it 14-0 after a Stephen Gostkowski PAT.
James White, who set a new career-best in the regular season with 10 catches, had a 6-yard touchdown catch in the first half.
Sony Michel broke off a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter for New England's fifrth touchdown of the game. He finished just shy of the 100-yard mark, with 98 yards on 18 carries.
Patrick Chung and Jonathan Jones had interceptions for the Patriots, while Devin McCourty forced and recovered a fumble. Chung also had half a sack, joining with Trey Flowers to bring down Luck on the first drive of the game for Indianapolis.
Thursday also marked the first time that Brady, Gronkowski and Edelman played in the same game since Week 11 of the 2016 season.
The Patriots are now off until Sunday, Oct. 14, when they'll host the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football, with the game set to air on NBC10 Boston.