FOXBORO, Mass. -- Tom Brady was less than an hour removed from getting his block knocked off, almost literally.
Bethel Johnson was a week removed from doing time in New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's doghouse.
Then the superstar quarterback and speedy wide receiver hooked up late on a fine fall afternoon here in Foxboro and the Patriots' historic run was preserved.
This time the victims were the Seattle Seahawks, who like so many victims in what is now a 20-game win streak, wobbled the Super Bowl champs but couldn't get them to fall.
The Brady bomb on third and seven was thrown off balance and caught by a diving Johnson, who had been benched in the Patriots' previous game, for 48 yards.
Two plays later and with just two minutes remaining, New England running back Corey Dillon ran nine yards for his second touchdown of the game to secure a 30-20 win.
It came after an early 20-3 lead was trimmed to within a field goal with three minutes left in a fourth quarter where a fumble and interception made Brady seem ordinary.
It came as a welcome bit of cheer for the morose Red Sox nation still stunned over the thrashing by the New York Yankees the night before. And it came as it always seems to with these Patriots, on cue when needed most.
"Every game it's the same, someone seems to step up and make the big play," Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said.
"We believe in each other, we believe in our coaches and we believe if we all do our jobs we will win as a team."
Through thick and sometimes through thin, the Patriots have done nothing but. For three consecutive weeks, they have seemed vulnerable against the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Seahawks.
Instead, as most do, the Seahawks left town wondering what hit them.
Who but Belichick would have made the Brady to Johnson call with the possibility of handing the ball back to the Seahawks at the two-minute warning?
Who but Brady, whose helmet was sent flying as he was nearly knocked silly earlier in the fourth quarter, could make that play?
"Our team has a lot of confidence that when we get in this type of a tight game, we're going to make a play to get it done," Brady said.
And for the next and biggest question, who can beat these guys?
The New York Jets, who like the Pats are 5-0, are next to take a shot here as the Gillette Stadium guests on Sunday.
New England hasn't lost at home since December 2002, however, or a game of any kind since last Sept. 28.
For the record, the NFL doesn't recognize playoff games in winning streaks so officially the mark is 17, a record now co-held by the Patriots and 1933-34 Chicago Bears.
It doesn't matter which number you are inclined to honour, however, the Patriots have become a benchmark for all.
"They are a very veteran and smart team," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said, "and that is our goal, to get there."
As has been their way, the Patriots did it on both sides of the ball yesterday. When jittery Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback barfed up interceptions on Seattle's first two series, the Patriots responded with 10 first-quarter points.
On offence, they got just enough production from Brady (19 completions on 30 attempts for 231 yards) and Dillon (105 rushing yards).
It wasn't enough for their ultra-demanding coach, however, who claimed he was guilty of "bad, bad coaching," by allowing the Seahawks to score 20 points.
"We'll come in here (today) and coach will have a list of things we didn't do right," Brady said with a smile.
Imagine what Belichick might do if/when the Patriots lose a game.