FOXBORO — Tom Brady heaved the ball toward the end zone, a long pass to try to avoid overtime.
The throw on the last play of the fourth quarter was picked off by Baltimore safety Ken Hamlin on a mild mid-October afternoon. Yes, New England's pinpoint passer actually threw an interception.
He hasn't thrown one since.
Eleven games, 335 consecutive passes. And just four interceptions all season.
"It blows my mind a little bit," Miami coach Tony Sparano said before his Dolphins kept Brady's streak alive in the Patriots 38-7 win on Sunday.
Through five games, Brady was accurate, but not perfect. He threw two interceptions in the second game on deep passes to Randy Moss in a 28-14 loss to the New York Jets. He threw two more in the fifth, a 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens.
And that's it.
Eight other quarterbacks have thrown four interceptions this season — in a single game. Peyton Manning did it twice in consecutive games, losses at home to San Diego and Dallas. And four of those — there's that number again — were returned for touchdowns.
It has taken some luck. In a 36-7 win at the Chicago Bears, at least two passes were nearly intercepted after being tipped.
"I've been very fortunate over the course of this season that the (opposing) defense has dropped the ball. They could catch it, you know?" Brady said, starting to smile. "But (then,) they'd be playing offense."
The only defenders who have hung on to his passes are Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool of the Jets and Chris Carr and Hamlin of the Ravens.
Hamlin even has changed teams since the streak began. He was cut by Baltimore, where he had gotten more playing time while Ed Reed was on the physically unable to perform list, and then signed by Indianapolis.
With home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, the Patriots (14-2) have this weekend off and will play the Ravens or the Jets — the only two teams that have intercepted Brady — or the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 16 in the divisional round .
Brady has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in his nine seasons as a healthy starter. Brett Favre has done that in 14 of his 19 full seasons.
Interception No. 1 came on an 81-degree day at New Meadowlands Stadium on Sept. 19.
On a third-and-13 play at the Jets' 47-yard line with 9:52 left in the third quarter, he took a snap in the shotgun formation and threw deep to Moss on the right side. Cromartie picked it off and the Jets capitalized with a 36-yard field goal by Nick Folk that cut the Patriots lead to 14-13.
Interception No. 2 came soon after, on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With a second-and-3 at the Patriots' 38, Brady threw deep to the right again. Moss tipped the ball twice before Pool caught it. The original ruling was an incompletion, that Pool didn't get two feet inbounds. But it was overturned on video replay.
Moss was traded to the Minnesota Vikings after the fourth game. Since then, the Patriots have concentrated on shorter passes.
"Of course, when you're throwing to a Hall of Famer, you feel obligated to get him the ball a certain amount of times. You feel pressure," said former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, now an analyst on NBC's Football Night in America. "Now, he doesn't feel that way. If Deion Branch catches eight balls against the Chicago Bears or he catches only one ball, these guys don't care about the numbers.
"It gives (Brady) a relief and he looks more comfortable in the pocket. Before he might have thought, 'Oh, my, I haven't thrown two to Moss. Let me force two over there. Let me just throw it up because you don't want to upset your superstar and have him pout."'
Interception No. 3 came at home on Oct. 17 against Baltimore, a sunny day with a game-time temperature of 57 degrees.
On the first series of the third quarter, Brady lined up in the shotgun without a huddle on third-and-10 at the Patriots' 31. He threw over the middle to Wes Welker, but Carr intercepted at the Patriots' 48 and returned it 12 yards. Three plays later, Joe Flacco (who has one four-interception game this season) threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Anquan Boldin, and the Ravens led 17-7.
It was a rare occasion when Brady was fooled by the alignment. He's among the best at reading defenses, looking away from the receiver he eventually throws to and throwing an incompletion or taking a sack when no one is open.
Interception No. 4 should hardly count since he was taking a no-risk, high-reward shot at the end zone for a chance to win in regulation. But Hamlin got in the way on the fourth-and-1 pass with the ball at the Baltimore 44 that was intended for Brandon Tate.
No matter. Brady simply started his no-interception streak on his first play of overtime — a short incompletion to the left intended for tight end Aaron Hernandez. But he completed his last four passes of the game, setting up Stephen Gostkowski's winning 35-yard field goal.
Brady's run of 335 straight passes without an interception is an NFL record. Only .81 of his 492 passes have been picked off, third best in NFL history. Damon Huard's percentage was .41 with Kansas City with one interception but only 244 passes in 2006, and Joe Ferguson's was .66 with Buffalo in 1976 with one interception in only 151 passes.
"I'm just trying to make good reads and good throws," Brady said. "Guys have done a hell of a job catching the ball in traffic. The offensive line has been protecting. I think we've really been playing with the lead a bunch, too, so you don't really have to force the ball into those situations."
The playoffs should be more competitive. The passes should be just as precise.