FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - There were fears that Tom Brady might be off his game after being involved in a scary auto accident in Boston several days ago.
There were concerns that Wes Welker might have been rushed back into the lineup for Sundayís season-opener after suffering a serious knee injury in the 2009 regular-season finale against Houston.
Sure didnít look that way.
There was even angst from Boston to Bangor that these once-mighty New England Patriots were on the downslide, with holes in the running game and on the defensive side of the ball.
Didnít play out that way.
It might be only one game, sure. But the three-time Super Bowl champions certainly seemed to answer a lot of questions Sunday, thanks to a lopsided 38-24 drubbing of the supposedly upstart Cincinnati Bengals at raucous Gillette Stadium.
It was a wacky week for Brady who, along with narrowly avoiding serious injury in the auto collision, became the highest paid player in the NFL by agreeing to a four-year, $72 million US deal that was made official on Friday.
On Sunday, Brady showed why owner Bob Kraft threw all those big bucks at his franchise quarterback, tossing three touchdown passes in the victory. Two of those went to Welker, who proved he is physically prepared for the upcoming season despite the howls that he was returning too soon.
But the Pats offence wasnít the only New England unit putting points on the board in the victory, with the defence and special teams chipping in as well.
A Gary Guyton 59-yard interception return and an electrifying 97-yard kickoff return by Ben Tate stuck a fork in the Bengals, who fell behind 24-0 by the second quarter and could never come any closer to the Pats than 14 points.
Chad Ochocinco did score one of the Bengal touchdowns, but did not live up to his promise last week of shooting off one of the guns carried by the Pats mascot minutemen if, and when, he scored.
The Pats hope the momentum continues when they travel to New Jersey next weekend to face the rival New York Jets, a team Brady said several weeks ago ďhe hates.Ē
If Brady played as well as he did Sunday, how good will he be when heís really angry?