FOXBOROUGH, Mass. >> Tom Brady gave the staggering Chicago Bears plenty to yell about.
The streaking quarterback threw five scoring passes in one of the best games of his brilliant career and the New England Patriots cruised to a 51-23 win on Sunday.
New England (6-2) scored on all five of its possessions in the half — and one of Chicago’s — on its way to its fourth straight win. The Bears (3-5) fell behind 45-7 early in the second half and lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Bears came to town after a tumultuous week that began with a 27-14 home loss to the Miami Dolphins. Afterward, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was heard screaming in an emotional locker room. Coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler downplayed the postgame scene during the week.
Whatever happened, it didn’t help the Bears play better.
Brady completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards. He threw three scoring passes to Rob Gronkowski and one each to Tim Wright and Brandon LaFell.
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich scored with 55 seconds left in the first half on a 15-yard return of Cutler’s fumble, the Patriots third touchdown in 57 seconds.
Since losing to the Bears 46-10 in the Super Bowl ending the 1985 season, the Patriots are 7-1 against them.
After a slow start this season, Brady has thrown for 1,268 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in the last four games. Sunday’s performance was the sixth of his career in which he’s thrown for at least five scores, including the playoffs. His 148.4 passer rating was the eighth best of his career.
Chicago was 3-1 on the road and had hope after last weekend’s implosion. So imagine how the coming week will be after the blowout.
On their first five possessions, the Patriots scored on a 6-yard pass to Gronkowski, a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, and passes of 1 yard to Wright, 2 yards to Gronkowski and 9 yards to LaFell.
The defense got into the act when Darrelle Revis intercepted Cutler’s desperation pass on the last play of the first half. Then the Patriots started the second half with an 80-play drive capped by Brady’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski.
Gronkowski had nine catches for 146 yards before leaving midway through the third quarter with dehydration, and LaFell had 11 receptions for 124 yards.
Cutler finished with 20 completions in 30 attempts for 227 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
The rout was in sharp contrast to the Patriots previous game, a 27-25 win over the lowly New York Jets secured when Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal attempt was blocked on the last play on Oct. 16.
With extra time to prepare after that Thursday night win, the Patriots were ready. Their first two offensive plays were 19-yard gains on a pass to LaFell and a run by Jonas Gray.
The Bears punted on their first three series before Cutler’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Matt Forte made it 17-7. Cutler also threw a 20-yarder to Martellus Bennett that cut the lead to 45-14.