FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can't pretend anymore. The rust thing is not a thing.
He said he felt like he wasn't quite himself last week even though he put up 400 yards passing on the Browns in his first game back from a four-game suspension. On Sunday, he followed that up with an equally-sharp homecoming performance to beat the Bengals, 35-17, completing 29-of-35 attempts for 376 yards and three touchdowns.
No oil necessary. No need for more time to work his way back. Whether he'll admit it or not, he's there.
"Well, I can do some things better out there, and I think offensively, we can too, but it’s good to be 5-1," Brady said after the game. "I think we’re at a decent place, so we’ve just got to keep stringing these games together. There’s a ton of football left. It’s a good defense we played today. They made it challenging on us, but we’re trying to figure out what we’re made of, and it was good to get going there in the second half."
Brady was able to keep his emotions in check in his first game back in New England -- as he was able to do in Cleveland -- which seemed to allow him to put his accurate arm on display.
He hit Rob Gronkowski for big gains down the seam and over the middle with well-placed passes, helping Gronkowski hit a career-high 162 yards passing. His strike to Chris Hogan led the wideout perfectly for a 39-yard gain. He worked the shot area of the field with precision, hitting 13-for-13 of his passes targeted for James White and Martellus Bennett. Brady also hit Gronkowski on a shorter toss for a score, a four-yarder that was pin-pointed low and to Gronkowski's left in order to keep the pass out of reach of a nearby defender.
It was surgical for the second consecutive week. Brady has now thrown for 782 yards over the course of the last two games, which is the third-most in a two-game stretch in team history. Brady has only had one two-game run that was better, a 940-yard performance to start the 2011 season in games against Miami and San Diego.
Though fans were riled up to see the future Hall of Famer in a regular-season game for the first time since he's been allowed back with the team, and though they showered him with chants of, "Brady! Brady! Brady!" at different points, he said that at some point, Sunday's game felt just like any other.
"It always gets to that point," Brady said. "I think it’s different games, it’s different times. Finally, I think it’s nice when your body just kind of settles in to saying, ‘Wow, I’ve done this before.’
"It’s different for when I was a rookie. It was different. I’ve been in some big games over the years, you get to the Super Bowl, things like that. Today it was, once I got out there running around, it felt like football. Again, you’ve just got to lock in and figure out what your job is, try to figure out what you’re going to do versus the different looks, and that’s what it becomes.
"You’re not going to win because you’re emotional, but I think having your attitude right -- mentally and physically right -- [and] ready to play, that allows you to be at your best for your teammates. It’s a process to get to that point, and we were definitely there today."
After completing 76 percent of his passes, throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions, and putting up a quarterback rating of 135.5 combined over the last two weeks, it looks like Brady's been at that point ever since he's been back.