FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There were two notable developments for the New England Patriots as wide receiver Phillip Dorsett highlighted a big day with a 4-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of the team's 27-20 win against the Houston Texans.
The first addresses a short-term need. Dorsett (7 catches, 66 yards) showed he can be a difference-maker in the team's depleted receiving corps, flashing some of the athletic traits and potential that made him a 2015 first-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts.
"Phillip did a great job, got some opportunity and then came up with the plays, came up with the catches. It's kind of what he's been doing all camp, all spring and it was good to see it show up. We needed it," quarterback Tom Brady said. "He caught the ball well, ran a variety of different routes, had some option routes in there which he did a good job of, catch and run. I thought he played great."
"We definitely had a better connection," added Dorsett. "We were working on it all throughout camp, and it showed."
The second development to NFL history, Brady is on the cusp of achieving another milestone, and this one is special: Dorsett was the 69th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady, moving him closer to NFL record holder Vinny Testaverde, who threw scoring passes to 70 players while playing for seven franchises (1987 to 2007). Testaverde had two separate stints with the New York Jets.
That, of course, sparks the question: Who might catch record-tying touchdown 70? And then a potential record-breaking 71st?
The Patriots can happily consider the possibilities after Sunday's season-opening win that was also sparked by a revived pass rush, which had rusty Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on the run often. The Patriots totaled 12 quarterback hits and three sacks.
With the defense putting the clamps down on Watson & Co., it gave the offense more margin for error as it tries to find its way without Julian Edelman, who is serving a four-game NFL suspension. Because there are several news faces on offense, the options are plentiful for Brady to target for record-tying touchdown number 70 and the potential-recording breaking 71st.
Patterson worked as the team's No. 3 option in the season opener, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels designing a few plays to get the football into his hands where his dynamic run-after-the-catch skills could be maximized.
McCarron, who was promoted from the practice squad on Thursday, served as the primary punt returner (he had a costly muff in the fourth quarter) and occasional slot option in the opener. He might be holding a spot until Edelman returns, so if he's going to put his name in any record book alongside Brady, it might have to happen quickly.
Other wild-card possibilities at receiver: Veteran Matthew Slater, who is occasionally used on deep-ball shots, and Chad Hansen, who was claimed on waivers from the Jets on Sept. 2 and was inactive in the opener.
Meanwhile, second-year tight end Jacob Hollister is also in the mix. He was inactive for the season opener with a hamstring injury but had been coming on strong in training camp as a capable pass-catcher, with coach Bill Belichick noting he has a great future ahead of him.
And then there are the running backs. First-round pick Sony Michel, who is not yet 100 percent (knee) and was inactive for the opener, displayed solid pass-catching ability in camp. Five-year veteran Jeremy Hill would have been a consideration, but he left the opener with a knee injury in the third quarter, and that could threaten his availability.
Finally, there is the possibility the team could make a roster move at wide receiver.
While Dorsett was one of the stars of the opener, the Patriots are still thin at the position, and since the contracts of veteran players aren't guaranteed after Week 1, maybe that would change the team's thinking on available free agents (led by Dez Bryant).
So, who's got 70 and 71?
It's going to be one of the fun Patriots storylines to follow in the weeks to come.