By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff ReporterFollow @mary_paoletti
OAKLAND -- You have to wonder if Tom Brady's getting used to reporters informing him in the postgame of the milestones he reaches. Last week, after the loss to Buffalo, Brady was asked to comment on his four interceptions -- a tally he's avoided since 2009.
Sunday in Oakland was probably more enjoyable.
Brady connected with Deion Branch for six yards and six points in the fourth quarter of New England's 31-19 win over the raiders. That touchdown pass was the 274th of his career and one more than his boyhood idol, Joe Montana.
It was also news to the QB.
"I didn't know that happened," he said. Then: "I'll never be in Joe's category. We throw the ball a lot more than they threw it back then. So, it's much more of a passing league than it's ever been. But, it was a good game for us. Every one of those touchdowns was important today, so it was fun. It was fun to be back out there after last week."
Brady went 16-for-30 for 226 yards, two touchdowns, and zero picks in the bounce-back. His mindset heading into Week 4 was simple.
"Just play my game. I don't think that you ever approach it with, 'I can't go out there and throw interceptions!' Look, if you're going to throw passes, you're going to throw interceptions. That's part of playing quarterback. You try to make reads, try to make good accurate throws, good fundamentals, good technique and all week in practice you work on those things and being balanced and accurate. Playing smart, playing fast.
"If an interception happens, it happens," he said. "You've got to bounce back from them that game, the following week. It's just part of the game. But we did a much better job taking care of the football today, which I think was a big part of why we won."
New England's bid against the Bills was a mess beyond the picks -- miscommunication, missed tackles, penalties, turnovers and forced offense. The ratio of first downs was 21-to-6, air to ground. In the aftermath, coach Bill Belichick challenged his team to play better, to stop giving games away.
Challenge accepted; the Patriots played a clean game on Sunday.
It helped that Oakland was careless. The Raiders committed two turnovers and got slapped with nine penalties for 85 yards, including two early fouls on former Patriot Richard Seymour.
Even more importantly, going to the ground game settled the team. Brady set an NFL record with 1,258 passing yards through the season's first three weeks, but the loss to the Bills was telling: The game plan needed to change.
New England had 11 passing first downs in Oakland and 11 rushing first downs. Explosive rookie Stevan Ridley -- who had six solid carries for 42 yards in Buffalo -- ran on the Raiders 10 times for 97 yards. Number-one back BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 75 yards on 16 carries.
It was as though Brady reached in the back of the armory and dusted off a forgotten but accurate weapon. Suddenly, he had options. Suddenly, he and the offense were even more dangerous.
"It was huge, I think, being able to be more balanced than we've been. We had some big runs. When you see us run the ball in from the 33-yard line . . . that was huge. BenJarvus Green Ellis ran great. Stevan Ridley ran great. That's important.
"It sets up a lot of things. If they can't stop the run then you're just going to keep running it and you're going to control the entire tempo of the game. If they can stop the run, then it's the passing game and that's not where you want to play offense."
Even though that's where all the records are waiting to be broken? Yeah, even though. Because the only record Brady's concerned with is housed within the Patriots' winloss column.