Drew Bledsoe has thrown four touchdown passes in a game six other times in his career. Never have they come so easily, though.
On each scoring play, New England's receivers were as wide open as the desert sky Sunday as the Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-3 to improve to 6-2, their best start since 1980.
It was the first time this season that New England won in a breeze. Four of the Patriots' five previous victories were by three or fewer points, and their biggest margin before Sunday was 19-7 against Cleveland.
"This was exactly what we needed," Patriots coach Pete Carroll said. "We needed a nice, good win where we could have fun."
New England held the Cardinals to 166 yards, their fewest in 60 games dating back to 1995.
Bledsoe threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Terry Glenn on the second play of the fourth quarter to put the Patriots up 27-3. The receivers found themselves alone against an Arizona defense that ranked third in the NFL against the pass going into the game.
"It was ugly today," said Arizona free safety Kwamie Lassiter.
Bledsoe didn't think the Cardinals realized how fast the Patriots are.
"These receivers have good speed, and the Cards haven't seen us much," Bledsoe said. "These guys aren't familiar with us. It made it a lot easier."
Bledsoe figured he should have had more.
"It should have been five," he said. "It was god for us to get an early start and make them play from behind. Six-and-two is a good start for us. I feel we're only going to get stronger as the season goes along."
Cardinals coach Vince Tobin said the last two touchdowns were the result of blown assignments in Arizona's secondary.
"In simple three-deep zone coverages we had people who were trying to do somebody else's job rather than their own," Tobin said. "It wasn't that complicated. We just didn't have people where they were supposed to be."
Safety Tommy Bennett said the Patriots did just what the Cardinals expected them to do.
"We anticipated them throwing the ball down the field, which they've been doing the last couple of weeks," Bennett said. "That's something that Drew Bledsoe thrives at and he's very good at. We just had some miscommunications out there and left some guys wide open."
The Cardinals (2-5) were coming off a bye week, but their offense, ranked 29th in the NFL, was as ineffective as ever. Dave Brown, starting at quarterback in place of injured Jake Plummer, completed 12 of 33 passes for 107 yards and was intercepted twice. He had four passes dropped.
"It's strange to me how well we practiced all week. I thought we were going to come out here and not only win, we were going to put up big numbers," Brown said. "For one reason or another, we just didn't do that. I'm sure the coaches are as perplexed as I am."
With rookie L.J. Shelton getting his first start at offensive tackle, Arizona managed just 77 yards in the first half and never got beyond New England's 46-yard line in the first two quarters.
New England scored on its second possession, going 53 yards in five plays. Bledsoe hit Terry Allen on a 38-yard play to set up his third-and-goal touchdown toss to a wide-open Warren with 8:57 left in the first quarter.
After Arizona's drive fizzled at the New England 46, the Patriots went 80 yards in six plays. On third-and-6 from the New England 36, Bledsoe threw over the middle to Jefferson, who sidestepped Lassiter and ran untouched to the end zone on a 64-yard play that made it 14-0 with 1:13 left in the first quarter.
Bledsoe took the Patriots 61 yards in six plays in the second quarter, throwing over the middle to Jefferson on a 35-yard touchdown pass. Brad Ottis blocked Adam Vinatieri's conversion kick and New England led 20-0 with 4:45 left in the half.
Te Cardinals, finally moving the ball on the ground, took the second-half kickoff and drove to the New England 2. But on fourth-and-1, after the second timeout in four plays, Arizona's Mike Devlin, usually a center but playing left guard in the goal line offense, was called for a false start and the Cardinals had to settle for Chris Jacke's 24-yard field goal that cut the lead to 20-3.
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