FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With the return of Rex Burkhead, the Patriots were back to full strength offensively for the first time this season Sunday.
Burkhead, out since suffering a neck injury in Week 3, was able to follow the birth of a child with his return to the active roster.
He started the game and caught a 15-yard pass en route to the Pats’ first touchdown. He had a 10-yard run that started the drive to a 10-0 field goal. He finished with seven carries for 20 yards and two catches for 21.
“He’s a great back. It’s great when he’s healthy because he can do some things in the run game, pass game,” Tom Brady said after the game. “He’s a very versatile guy. It’s great to have him back.”
Earlier in the week, in his first media comments since he went down, Burkhead said, “It feels great. I’m looking forward to being back here on the field on Sunday and just being back out here with the team, practicing again and being around the guys. The past few weeks, it’s been different. It’s been weird not being around everything, so it just feels good.”
Burkhead ran for 86 yards on 24 carries and also caught three passes for 31 yards in the first three games.
With Burkhead back, the only semi regular missing from Brady’s attack was blocking tight end Dwayne Allen, who remained out with a knee injury.
Reinstating Burkhead meant keeping rookie Duke Dawson on hold for a second straight week, as he awaits his NFL debut after returning from injury.
Also on the inactive list Sunday was DT Danny Shelton, a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Brady threw for 311 yards on the day, 42 of them coming on the final play of the first half. With the Pats at their own 47 and the Vikings lined up deep with one second left, Brady hit a wide-open James White, who ran unobstructed down to the Minnesota 11 as the half ended.
The 311 yards gives him 69,501 in his regular season career — 499 shy of becoming the fourth ever with 70,000. His 508th career regular-season touchdown throw tied him with Brett Favre for third place all-time — and was his 579th counting postseason, tied with Peyton Manning for No. 1.
With the win, coming in his 300th career start — counting postseason — Brady improved to 232-68 lifetime.
Oh, and it was his 86th 300-yard passing game.
And he finally cleared the 1,000-yard rushing mark. “Hopefully I don’t go backward next week,” he said.
On the diet
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has added himself to the growing list of QBs following Brady’s diet.
“A lot of what he’s doing, or what I’ve learned about what he’s doing, I had actually — with different people that I run into — saw the same messaging, in terms of what to eat, what not to eat, the importance of sleep, the importance of (soft) tissue work,” Cousins told the Minneapolis media. “Everybody I was seeing was really reiterating the same things, so when you see it coming from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, you see it coming from the people you work with, you say, ‘Maybe there’s something to this.’ I think it affirmed some of those approaches.
“They certainly were different than maybe what I was doing early in my college career, so there were some changes that needed to be made. But now, having gotten into my routine and being in Year 7 (of my career), I think I’ve gotten a good handle on what I want to do to take care of myself and prolong my career. I think there are a lot of similarities to what Tom’s doing. It’s no accident that he’s played as well as long as he has. It matters to him, and he’s been intentional about the process to be able to do that.”