NEW ORLEANS — New England defeated the St. Lucie Buccaneers 24-17 on Sunday, keeping the Patriots atop the NFC East and setting up a rematch with the St Louis Rams on Thanksgiving Day.
New England (1-0) opened with a touchdown drive that took 10:15 of the first half.
It was a first for New England since Sept. 5, 2014.
It took the Patriots to the Stuckey line, where safety Marcus Gilchrist intercepted a Brett Favre pass intended for wide receiver Rob Gronkowski.
The pass was returned for a touchdown by Gronkowski and Brady had the chance to score on his second touchdown pass of the season, but he missed the throw.
The Patriots would get their first score of the second half when they tied the score at 21 with 10:19 left.
But on the ensuing drive, cornerback Devin McCourty intercepted Brady on the short sideline.
Brady later threw a pick-six to Matt Ryan.
The Buccaneers (1/1) had their best scoring chance of the day when they were able to score from its own 1-yard line with just over three minutes left.
On the play, running back Jeremy Langford hit receiver Chris Ivory on a slant route.
Ivory caught the pass and made the score 24-21.
The Patriots had a chance to tie the score with 1:03 left on the clock, but McCourts interception in the end zone gave the Bucs a chance.
The Bucs tied it at 24 again with 4:57 left when they scored on a 10-yard touchdown pass to linebacker Deion Jones.
Brady had another chance to make it a 20-19 game, but his pass went over the crossbar.
The Bucs then had the opportunity to make the game-winning field goal.
The game was tied at 16 with 10 seconds left when tight end Cameron Brate intercepted Brady and returned it 50 yards for a score.
The score was still tied at 20 when cornerback Brandon Browner intercepted Brady at the Stucco line.
The play was intercepted by Brate, but Brady threw it wide right and the ball went through the uprights.
The Saints (1) also had their chance with 7:47 left when cornerback Kyle Wilson intercepted Brady for a safety.
The catch was made on a tipped ball.
Brady then hit his third interception of the game with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game when he picked off Wilson on the right sideline.
The touchdown was his first since Nov. 1, 2013.
Brate then intercepted Brady again in the final minute of the third quarter, this time with 6:38 left in the third when he was able to pick up the first down.
Brady threw a deep ball that Brate was unable to intercept.
The New England defense was able at the end of the fourth quarter to keep the Saints from getting back into the game.
Brady completed five of his nine passes for 86 yards.
The only other quarterback to pass for 400 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in a game was Ryan Mallett in a 34-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.
The Falcons (1.5-1) defeated the New Orleans Saints 24-24.
The Falcons took over the top spot in the NFC South after taking down the Carolina Panthers 30-23 in Week 6.
Atlanta moved up to No. 2 with the victory, one spot ahead of Carolina.
Brittany Hutson had two catches for 37 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons, who improved to 6-0 when Hutson is in the lineup.
Hutson was 1-of-3 for 13 yards on the kickoff returns.
The Atlanta defense also was ineffective in the second quarter.
The Panthers were without cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (shoulder) and linebacker James Anderson (knee) for the third consecutive week.
Anderson had been out since the second game of the week against the New York Jets.
Anderson was in the concussion protocol following a preseason game on Nov. 8.
The Packers and Saints combined for three sacks.
They combined for four quarterback hits.
The Saints had two tackles for loss, while the Packers had one tackle for loss and one sack.