By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Tom Brady threw a career and franchise record 517 yards as the New England Patriots won 38-24 at AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League on Monday.
The outstanding Brady completed 32 of 48 passes, throwing four touchdowns, crowning his display with a breath-taking 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker -- only the 12th time such a play has been made in the league.
The two-time league MVP eclipsed his previous best passing yardage of 410 set against Kansas City in 2002 and ended with the fifth best total in NFL history -- Norm Van Brocklin holds the record set at 554 in 1951.
It was a performance which underlined Brady's remarkable vision and arm and will have put the rest of the AFC on notice that the Patriots are once again a force to be seriously reckoned with.
Any doubts about the outlets available to the quarterback will have been cast aside as Brady peppered his receivers and tight-ends with precise passes throughout the four quarters.
Receiver Welker put up 160 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns while tight-end Aaron Hernandez also scored and enjoyed 103 yards.
"It is a team sport and those guys were catching the ball and making some great plays. Guys really stayed aware of the situation and we made enough plays to win -- and that's the goal," said Brady.
The Dolphins had begun brightly with a touchdown on the opening drive with quarterback Chad Henne running over from nine yards before Brady, helped by some poor Miami defense, caught fire.
Miami, though well beaten, will take heart from an offensive display which showed great improvement from last season.
The Dolphins fought back to 14-14 early in the third quarter, taking advantage of a rare interception from Brady -- with Jared Odrick taking the ball 39 yards and then Henne found Brian Hartline with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
But then Brady marched downfield, with a no-huddle offense and ended a 10-play, 73-yard drive with a two yard pass to Welker.
Miami got to the one yard line but had to settle for a field goal and that was the cue for Brady to put the game firmly in the Patriots' hands.
The game was decisively put beyond Miami in emphatic and spectacular fashion when the Dolphins failed to convert a fourth down on the half-yard line and Brady lined up in the shotgun and threw from his end zone wide to Welker.
The receiver he had escaped from the attention of Benny Sapp and grabbed the perfectly delivered pass before sprinting alone to complete an extraordinary score.
"That was pretty awesome. When I saw him break away, it was awesome," said Brady.
"I only threw it 25 yards, it's not like I threw it 99 yards, Wes did all the work, I just had to put it there for him."
With Henne throwing a career best 416 yards, the two teams combined for the most passing yards (906) of any NFL game.
(Editing by Ossian Shine and Alastair Himmer)