Despite a late comeback effort by the Falcons, a tipped pass became the difference between a win and a trip to overtime for the Patriots as New England improved to 4-0 with a 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots with 316 yards on 20 for 31 passing and two touchdowns.
Receiving his first catch and touchdown reception in the NFL was tight end Matthew Mulligan early in the second quarter. The third string tight end from the University of Maine caught the 1-yard reception to help put the Patriots up at the start of the quarter.
LeGarrette Blount surprised many in the second half, rushing for a 47-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter and extend the Patriots' lead to 20-10.
Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins continued to show signs of improvement, receiving 117 yards and a touchdown on six catches. The score by Thompkins came in the fourth quarter on an 18-yard pass from Brady.
Up 30-13 in the fourth quarter, a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez and a field goal cut the lead to seven. The Falcons were able to get to the Patriots' 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter but Aqib Talib broke up a fourth down pass intended for Roddy White in the end zone with 36 seconds left on the clock.
In the red zone, the Patriots' defense left the Falcons frustrated and nearly pointless, only giving up a touchdown on six red zone visits by Atlanta.
The following game notes are from Patriots Media Relations:
OFF TO 4-0 START FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2007
The New England Patriots improved to 4-0 in 2013 with a 30-23 win over Atlanta. The Patriots are 4-0 for the seventh time in team history and for the first time since 2007. New England is now 4-0 for the third time under Head Coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots also started 4-0 in 1964, 1974, 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2007.
ROOKIE WR KENBRELL THOMPKINS TOPS 100 YARD RECEIVING
Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins finished with 6 receptions for 127 yards. He is just the second Patriots rookie free agent receiver to go over 100 yards receiving in a game during his rookie season. Wes Moore had 8 receptions for 112 yards on Sept. 10, 1995 vs. Miami.
WR JULIAN EDLEMAN REGISTERS SECOND NFL 100-YARD GAME
WR Julian Edelman went over 100 yards receiving for the second time in his career after finishing with 7 receptions for 118 yards. He had his first 100 yard receiving game at Houston on Jan. 3, 2010 when he finished with 103 yards. Edelman and Atlanta’s
TWO RECEIVERS OVER 100 YARDS
The Patriots had two players finish with 100 yards receiving for the first time since Rob Gronkowki (104) and Wes Welker (129) had 100 yard days at Buffalo on Sept. 30, 2012.
PATRIOTS FORCE A TURNOVER FOR THE 31st STRAIGHT GAME
The Patriots have now forced a turnover in 31 straight games dating back to 2011 after Aqib Talib registered a fourth quarter interception. It is the longest active streak in the NFL. Cincinnati has the second longest streak with 18. The NFL record for most consecutive games with a turnover since the merger in 1970 is 71 by Philadelphia from 1985-1990. The last time the Patriots did not register at least one turnover was on Oct. 9, 2011 vs. the New York Jets.
BRADY EXTENDS HIS STREAK TO 52 GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN
Tom Brady extended his streak to 52 straight games with at least one touchdown in the second quarter with his 1-yard touchdown pass to TE Matthew Mulligan. It is the second longest touchdown streak in NFL history, behind Drew Brees (54) and the longest active streak. Brady and Brees are the only NFL players with streaks of 50 or more consecutive games with at least one touchdown.
TOM BRADY BECOMES ONE OF FIVE NFL QBS WITH AT LEAST 340 TDS
Tom Brady became just the fifth NFL quarterback with at least 340 touchdowns when he completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to TE Matthew Mulligan in the second quarter. He now has 341 career touchdowns. Brady (341) now needs one more touchdown pass to tie Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth place all-time.
BRADY BECOMES FIFTH NFL STARTING QUARTERBACK WITH AT LEAST 140 WINS
Tom Brady earned his 140th career win and is now one of five NFL quarterbacks with 140 career wins. Brady is the only quarterback in NFL history with at least 100 more wins than losses
TE Matthew Mulligan scored his second career NFL touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady on his first reception as a member of the Patriots. He scored his first NFL reception on a 1-yard pass from QB Sam Bradford vs. Washington on Sept. 16, 2012 while with St. Louis.
ROOKIE JOE VELLANO REGISTERS FIRST NFL SACK
Rookie DL Joe Vellano recorded his first NFL sack when he dropped Atlanta QB Matt Ryan for a 13-yard loss in the third quarter.
EDLEMAN ON GOOD PACE
Julian Edelman entered the game tied with WR Julio Jones with 27 receptions. Edelman finished with 7 receptions, while Jones had six receptions. Edelman now has 34 receptions and is on pace to finish the season with 136 receptions. Edelman’s career high for receptions is 37 catches, achieved as a rookie in 2009. He would become the third Patriots player to finish with 100 receptions, joining Wes Welker and Troy Brown. An NFL player has reached 100 receptions in a season 76 times.
NFL’S BEST ROAD WARRIORS
Since the start of the 2000 season, the Patriots have the best regular-season road record at 71-35 (.670). New England has now won 14 of their past 16 road games against NFC opponents. Atlanta entered the game winning 12 of their last 13 home games and was 21-4 at home since 2010.
BRADY RECORDS 54TH CAREER 300-YARD GAME
Brady had his 54th NFL game with 300 or more yards passing after finishing with 316 passing yards. He ranks third among active NFL quarterbacks, behind NFL-leader Peyton Manning (76) and Drew Brees (70). The Patriots are 44-10 when Brady throws for 300 or more yards.