Tom Brady rolled back the years, as the New England Patriots dismantled the Buffalo Bills 41-25 at the New Era Field in Sunday's AFC East showdown in New York.
Bills fans were left stunned into silence as Brady showed once again that somehow, at the age of 39, he is squarely in his prime.
He completed 22 of 33 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns, including 53-yard scoring hook-ups with All-Pro tight end and Buffalo area native Rob Gronkowski and ex-Bills slot receiver Chris Hogan, in a flawless effort that left 70,442 fans and 46 frustrated players shaking their heads in disgust.
"He's a motherf****r," Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes said of his former Patriots teammate. "In a situation like this, you know he's coming with his 'A' game, and I wouldn't expect anything less from him. And trust me, dealing with his 'A' game is not easy."
"This is how I think of Tom Brady," Bills owner Terry Pegula said.
"He's like McDonald's. Every time I go there, I always get the same thing — because it works, and why would you get anything different? That's Brady. He's gonna come out and run the same, simple offense, and slide in the pocket and get rid of the ball quickly and throw it underneath to all those different receivers, and unless you can do something to stop him, he'll carve you to pieces."
Mike Reiss, writing for ESPN, said, "If this is what Brady looks like when he's just getting going, imagine what the coming weeks might bring. Returning from a four-game suspension to open the season, Brady has made up for lost time by putting a four-game stretch that is among the best of his career: 98-of-134 for 1,338 yards, with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions."
The Patriots, who managed a 3-1 record without Brady with a resourceful approach to open the season, clearly have been galvanised by his return. Whether it's the steely-eyed focus Brady has upon arrival at the stadium on game day, or the extra work he puts in while working with resistance bands in the tunnel before kickoff, it's hard for anyone close to the scene not to notice the dedication he has for his craft, Reiss wrote.