Drew Bledsoe threw and threw and threw some more. Finally, he threw his arms up in triumph.
He had plenty to celebrate Sunday after his 45th completion and 70th pass--both NFL records--settled into fullback Kevin Turner’s arms in the end zone 4:10 into overtime.
The 14-yard pass gave the struggling New England Patriots a 26-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, one of the NFL’s best teams. And it capped a stunning comeback from a 20-0 deficit and a first half in which the Patriots were outgained, 286 yards to 89.
Bledsoe, who completed all six of his passes on the winning drive, barely had time to raise his arms over his head before he was engulfed by jubilant teammates.
“Right now, we’ve got a bunch of guys feeling pretty good,” Patriot Coach Bill Parcells said. “It was a valiant effort. We were on the ropes big time.”
Bledsoe passed for 426 yards and three touchdowns but took his historic performance in stride, just as he didn’t despair over the seven passes he had intercepted in his last two games, both losses.
“It definitely is a vindication (after) all the people wrote this one in the books as a win for the Vikings,” he said. “I’m not going to get too high after a game like this.”
The Patriots (4-6) ended a four-game losing streak and stopped the four-game winning streak of the Vikings, who still lead the NFC Central with a 7-3 record.
“This loss brings us down to earth if anybody here has been floating,” said Warren Moon, who passed for 234 yards in the first half.
But Bledsoe did much better in the second half, completing 37 of 53 passes for 354 yards, as the Patriots switched to a no-huddle offense for almost the entire half.
The Vikings, who were tied for third in the NFL with 27 sacks, didn’t get to Bledsoe once.
He broke NFL records of 68 passes by Houston’s George Blanda on Nov. 1, 1964, and 42 completions by the New York Jets’ Richard Todd on Sept. 21, 1980.
At halftime, the Patriots were trailing, 20-3, and had gone 10 quarters without a touchdown.
Minnesota still led, 20-10, with less than three minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Then Bledsoe passed five yards to Leroy Thompson for a touchdown with 2:21 to play. The Vikings couldn’t get a first down on their next series, and Bledsoe led the Patriots from their 39-yard line to Matt Bahr’s tying 23-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
Patriot quarterback Drew Bledsoe set records for most passing attempts and completions Sunday vs. Minnesota. A look at the list:
MOST PASSING ATTEMPTS, GAME
Date Att Quarterback Teams Nov. 13, 1994 70 Drew Bledsoe New England vs. Minnesota (OT) Nov. 1, 1964 68 George Blanda Houston vs. Buffalo Dec. 24, 1989 66 Chris Miller Atlanta vs. Detroit Oct. 20, 1991 63 Rich Gannon Minnesota vs. New England (OT)
MOST PASSING COMPLETIONS, GAME
Date Com Quarterback Teams Nov. 13, 1994 45 Drew Bledsoe New England vs. Minnesota (OT) Sept. 21, 1980 42 Richard Todd NY Jets vs. San Francisco Nov. 10, 1991 41 Warren Moon Houston vs. Dallas (OT) Dec. 20, 182 40 Ken Anderson Cincinnati vs. San Diego Oct. 13, 1985 40 Phil Simms NY Giants vs. Cincinnati
OTHER RECORDS SET IN GAME
* Pass attempts (two teams)--112. Old record: 104, Miami vs. New York Jets, Oct. 18, 1987, overtime.
* Pass completions (two teams)--71. Old record: 68, San Francisco vs. Atlanta, Oct. 6, 1985.