| January 14, 2008 »
January 13, 2008
Not expected rematch for AFC title game
As most of you know by now, the San Diego Chargers -- behind backup quarterback Billy Volek -- upset the Indianapolis Colts, 28-24, in their AFC Divisional round playoff game, the final game at the RCA Dome.
The win sends the Chargers to Foxboro for the second time this season, and means they and the Patriots will meet in the postseason for the second straight year.
Many fans, and privately, likely members of the Patriots, were hoping Indianapolis would be the opponent, so New England could reverse the result from last year's AFCCG, when shaky second-half play led to 38-34 loss.
In Week 2, fresh off the sting of Spygate, San Diego was walloped by an emotional New England squad, 38-14, with one of the signature moments of that game being Adalius Thomas' 65-yard interception return in the first half.
Last January, the Pats went to California for the Divisional Round. The Chargers had earned the bye after their 14-2 regular season, but made critical mistakes. Troy Brown extended New England's season when he stripped Marlon McCree of an interception; Reche Caldwell recovered the ball, and the Patriots scored four plays later, tying the game with a two-point play by Kevin Faulk.
Bill Belichick held a conference call with local media shortly after San Diego's win, and called it a privilege to play for the AFC Championship. He said he'll look at the tape of that September win over the Chargers, but more of he and his staff's focus will be on San Diego's last eight games, all wins.
"We’ve seen them make a lot of big plays in all three areas of the game," Belichick said. "They’re physical. Going out on the road and winning in Indianapolis today I think shows what kind of mental toughness they have. We know we’re going to have to play our best game of the year, so we’re on that, but on the same note we’re excited to play and we’re excited to be in the game."
The players have Monday off; the team will reconvene Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 5:05 PM | Permalink
| Comments 5
Chargers coming to New England
What a win for San Diego, beating the Colts in Indianapolis with both LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers on the sidelines!
How's A.J. Smith's decision to dump Marty Schottenheimer for Norv Turner looking now?
If the Chargers can beat both the Colts and the Patriots on the road in the playoffs, they certainly deserve to go to the Super Bowl.
Given the difficulty of that, however, and the way Tom Brady is playing, if you're a Patriots fan, you've got to like your team's chances of going to Phoenix.
Good as the Chargers are, you have to think New England would rather face Rivers (or Billy Volek) in the AFC title game than Peyton Manning and the Colts.
And you know that, if, as appears likely, the Patriots get to the Super Bowl, they'll be favored over the NFC champ.
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 4:19 PM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Photo: Trump on the sideline
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Knauss, join Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:19 AM | Permalink
| Comments 3
Seau provides pre-game spark
It is not surprising that Bill Belichick says a few words to his team before each game.
What may be a bit surprising is that after Belichick speaks, Junior Seau usually adds a few words as well. But given the regard Belichick so clearly has for the future Hall of Famer, maybe there’s no one better to help fire up the troops.
Before New England took to the field against Jacksonville, the emotional Seau, an 18-year veteran looking for his first Super Bowl ring, reminded his teammates how precious the opportunity was that they had before them, and how much it meant to him.
“He’s a fiery guy,” Kyle Brady said. “He has a passion about playing the game and he always has a few passionate words before the game and he did it again today. He talked about opportunity, and what a great opportunity this is for all of us.”
Seau has appeared in one Super Bowl, in 1994, when his Chargers team was demolished by the 49ers. He hadn’t yet grasped how close he is to returning in the locker room after the game.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It really hasn’t. Being part of this journey is definitely something special,” he said. “Hopefully at the end of this rainbow we can look at something that we’re proud of. You never can dream this. It’s beyond all of that. There’s a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance and a lot of prayers that come into play.”
Seau did all he could to help New England last night, with a team-high 10 tackles.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 2:07 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Dinner and...a fedora?
Kyle Brady won the chance to move on to the AFC title game with the New England Patriots last night, but he also won dinner on friend and former teammate David Garrard.
Brady said he and Garrard, the Jaguars’ quarterback, had a friendly wager on the game: the first dinner of the offseason would be on the loser. So Garrard and wife Mary will be picking up the tab when the Bradys migrate south for the offseason; after spending eight years in Jacksonville, Brady and wife Kristi still maintain their home in the area.
The tight end might be getting something else as well, as he joked with the quarterback that Garrard should throw in one of his trademark fedoras as well.
Garrard usually wears a sharp suit and chapeau for post-game press conferences.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 1:58 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Game story: Brady brilliant, defense clamps down as Pats move on
BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer
FOXBORO – The New England Patriots’ three Super Bowl wins came by a combined nine points, so if there is one thing they know, it is this: come playoff time, it doesn’t matter how you win.
All that matters is that you do win.
So in the immediate aftermath of New England’s 31-20 AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium last night, there was some talk about the defense, some talk about how the team’s coverage in the passing game wasn’t up to snuff in the first half, some talk of the Jags’ success in keeping Randy Moss in check.
But bottom line, as they settle into their couches today to watch the Indianapolis Colts host the San Diego Chargers in the other AFC Divisional game, the Pats players know they’ll be hosting the AFC Championship game next weekend.
“Right now, it doesn’t matter. It’s about winning football games any way you can,” said Tedy Bruschi.
New England’s defense, maligned for its weakness against the run, clamped down on the best one-two running back combination in the league, Jacksonville’s Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, holding the duo to 66 yards on 19 carries.
The Jaguars suspected that the Patriots, led by their defensive front three of Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork, as well as top reserve Jarvis Green, would try to take away their strength, like Delilah chopping Samson’s hair – and thus his might.
So they came out passing, trying to suck the Pats in with play-action.
“I had an inkling they’d try some play-action, so it didn’t surprise me,” Rodney Harrison said. “On one play it did, but most of the time it didn’t.”
The play that caught Harrison off-guard was in the first drive of the game. Jacksonville was facing fourth-and-one at the New England 43-yard line, and rather than have David Garrard – and his thick-as-tree-trunk legs – run a quarterback sneak, Garrard ran that play-action and threw a deep pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 34-yard gain.
Three plays later, Jacksonville became the first Pats’ playoff opponent since 1998 to score on its opening drive, with Garrard hooking up with Matt Jones for an eight-yard touchdown.
The Jaguars were that last team in 1998 as well, scoring a 35-yard field goal in the team’s Wild Card matchup.
But New England answered back, as only New England can, on its first possession. Brady and Co. had a fourth down of their own, but theirs was fourth-and-5. And they went for it. And they converted: a 14-yard pass over the middle to Moss.
Amazingly, it was the only reception of the night for Moss, who became the Patriots’ single-season receiving yardage leader this season and caught a league-record 23 touchdowns.
As he noted, however, Jacksonville may have “done a great job controlling me, but they did a bad job controlling the (rest of the) team.”
Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Laurence Maroney combined for 22 catches for 224 yards, and tight end Benjamin Watson, who has been relatively quiet as he’s struggled to regain form after an ankle injury suffered in Dallas in October, had just two catches for 12 yards, but both were touchdowns.
“It was just my chance to make some plays,” said Watson, who tied Stanley Morgan’s franchise record for touchdown catches in a playoff game. “I’m just glad Tom found me in the end zone. That’s what you work all these weeks for, just the chance to come out here and play.”
The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, but after watching David Garrard’s highly efficient first half, when he was 12-for-14 for 149 yards, New England’s defense adjusted and responded. Garrard was 10-for-19 for 129 yards in the second half.
The play that ended up being the game-winner for the Pats involved a little trickery: on their opening drive of the second half, a big gain by Laurence Maroney helped New England to first-and-goal from the six. On that play, they ran a variation of the Statue of Liberty, with it appearing as though the ball was snapped directly to Faulk. But Brady had the ball, and by the time the defense caught on, the league MVP zipped a pass to Welker in the back of the end zone.
“We worked on it the other day for the first time,” Brady said. “I think they bit on the run pretty good, and Wes did a great job. He’s hard to find; he’s 5-foot-7.”
Brady was as coolly efficient as he’s ever been against the Jaguars, setting a record by completing nearly 93 percent of his passes (26-for-28). When he wasn’t finding receivers, Brady was handing off to Maroney, who continues to blossom in the closing weeks of the season.
The second-year back averaged 122 yards on 22 carries (5.5 yards per), and scored a short first-half touchdown.
Harrison, who had two 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalties in the fourth quarter, found some redemption when he sealed the game by intercepting Garrard with just under four minutes to play in the game.
Harrison said he hadn’t heard much from Belichick – “yet” – on his two penalties, but that it felt pretty good to come down with that pick.
“You’ve got to do whatever you can to win. And have more points than they do at the end of the game and the clock strikes ‘zero,’” Bruschi said. “That’s all this tournament is about.”
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 1:51 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Welker Rises To First Playoff Challenge
By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
FOXBORO – Wes Welker made his first playoff appearance a memorable one.
Welker led the Patriot receivers with a game-high nine catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
His touchdown catch came on a trick play. On a first-and-goal from the Jacksonville six, Tom Brady jumped and raised his empty right arm in the air, making it appear as if Faulk had taken a direct snap.
Brady was hiding the ball in his left hand. Then, he switched to his right and found Welker in the back of the end zone which gave the Patriots the lead for good, 21-14, at 8:49 of the third quarter.
“I don’t know what you would call it but it was a play we felt we could take advantage of because of the aggressive plays by their safeties,” Welker said. “I was able to get behind them and Tom Brady was able to find me for the score.”
Welker said that the atmosphere of his first playoff game was intense.
“There was more intensity out there and focus and it took a couple of series to settle down,” said Welker, who did not get his first catch until the second quarter. “In the end we were able to put our execution together and were able to come up with some plays.”
Posted by Rob Lee at 1:32 AM to Wes Welker
| Comments 0
Del Rio Knows The Difference
FOXBORO, Mass. _ Jack Del Rio knows the difference between his Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots.
He knows why the Pats are going to the AFC championship game, following a 31-20 victory over the Jags, and his team is going home.
"Unfortunately," Del Rio said, "Tom (Brady) didn't slip on the way to work today."
What was even more unfortunate, from the standpoint of Del Rio and the Jaguars, was that Brady didn't slip up at all on the field, completing 26 of 28 passes for three touchdowns.
"He played lights out," Del Rio said. "He was very, very good today. I mean, he's been grat all year, but he was patient today.
"We made him be patient. We didn't give him a lot of things over the top. He was very patient, willing to take the short stuff, nibble a little bit.
"(The Patriots) are executing very well, and they have a quarterback who knows exactly what he wants to do, where his problems are, and what his answers are."
In the end, the Jags had no answer for Brady, who set an NFL record this season by throwing 50 touchdown passes.
"Tom's doing such a nice job, understanding where you're trying to come," Del Rio said, "that the ball comes out and it's hard to get there. They're operating at a high level."
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 1:12 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Quarterback Tom Brady's phenomenal game (26 of 28 for 262 yards) was a major postgame focal point.
But the Patriots were by no means pass-happy in downing the Jaguars. New England also rushed for 145 yards, with Lawrence Maroney racking up 122 of those yards.
"We took what they gave us," said offensive tackle Matt Light. "I thought we were effective in both our run and pass games. We were pretty balanced."
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:11 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Laurence Maroney Has A Career Day
By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
FOXBORO – After having the biggest postseason game of his career – 22 carries, 122 yards, and a touchdown – Laurence Maroney tried to sneak out of the Patriots locker room before a mob of media members, like bees on honey, swarmed to him just before he reached the exit.
“I really don’t feel like talking,” Maroney said with a sigh.
Maroney didn’t want to talk about his huge game because he didn’t want to be in the spotlight.
Not with Tom Brady completing 26 of 28 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns for a 141.4 quarterback rating.
Not with the Patriots advancing to the AFC Championship game. Not with so many other of his teammates contributing in the 31-20 victory over the Jaguars.
“It’s about the Patriots winning, not about me,” Maroney said.
But he understood why there was a lot of interest in what he had just done. His performance ranks third on the Patriots all-time rushing list for postseason games. Only Curtis Martin (166 yards, Jan. 5, 1997 versus Pittsburgh) and Corey Dillon (144 yards, Jan. 16, 2005, versus Indianapolis) have bigger postseason rushing games than Maroney.
He gave most of the credit to his offensive linemen.
“I felt very comfortable today and the offensive line and receivers did a good job blocking once again downfield,” Maroney said. “I just tried to get into a rhythm and run hard.”
Because the Patriots were setting all kinds of scoring records by passing the ball while using the running game sparingly for most of the regular season, Maroney’s season was viewed by some as a disappointment. But when the weather got colder and the winds picked up, the Patriots called Maroney’s number and he has been productive.
“Sooner or later the running game had to kick in and when we did turn to it, I knew we had to be prepared,” Maroney said of the Pats running game. “We have been here and worked hard and knew we would finally get a chance to show the world that we do have some type of running game.”
Maroney closed out the regular season with 59 rushes for 306 yards and four touchdowns in his final three games of the season, averaging 102 yards per game.
“In our locker room, we know what he’s capable of,” running back Heath Evans said of Maroney.
“The way Laurence ran, the way the offensive line blocked, it just gave [us] confidence to go on and continue on running the ball,” fellow running back Kevin Faulk said.
“I thought Laurence ran well and our line blocked well,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “We had some good holds.”
Maroney’s touchdown, a one-yard run that gave New England a 14-7 lead three seconds into the second quarter, was the first of his postseason career.
“Laurence has been great – he’s been playing good all season,” Brady said. “I don’t think he probably had all of the opportunities he would have hoped, but his role has been whatever he’s got and he’s been extremely productive. And the way we’ve thrown the ball with multiple receivers on the field, it puts a lot of stress on the defense.
“Any time you have Randy and Wes out there and Donte and Jabar all making plays; really, Laurence, thank God, lost it there for a little bit, but he was extremely productive tonight. He had some huge runs.”
Maroney elevated his game in the Patriots passing attack last night too. After only catching four passes for 116 yards in the regular season, Maroney caught two passes for 40 yards last night.
“Kevin is the one that’s known for catching screen passes so I was hoping to catch them sleeping,” Maroney said.
“I think Laurence does a good job for us in the passing game, yeah,” Belichick said. “I think he’s done a good job for us and he’s certainly improved there in the two careers since he’s been here and he’s worked hard in all phases, blitz running, route running, spacing, catching, those kinds of things. And he’s worked hard and he’s done a good job and he’s improved dramatically in two years, no question.”
“It’s always great to have a strong running game,” Evans said. “For half the year Tom Brady was doing it all by himself with the receivers and during the most important time of the year
Maroney stepped up. That’s my praise to him, its good coaching and listening on his part. He ran hard and he has a lot of talent and I’m proud of him.”
Maroney is just happy that the Patriots advanced to the AFC Championship game.
“This is something that we practice all year for – to go to the big show,” Maroney said.
Posted by Rob Lee at 1:10 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Harrison Ties Record
It should have come sooner.
But when Rodney Harrison picked off a David Garrard pass with 3:46 remaining, the veteran safety tied former Rams and Cardinals defensive back Aeneas Williams for consecutive postseason games (four) with at least one interception.
Harrison missed out on an interception earlier in the fourth quarter, dropping one in the Patriots' end zone with about 10 minutes to go and New England ahead, 28-17. The Jaguars didn't take full advantage of Harrison's drop in the back of the middle of the end zone, but Josh Scobee drilled a field goal one play later, bringing Jacksonville to within a touchdown and a two-point conversion of the Pats at 28-20.
Harrison, though, wasn't interested in the fact he had tied a record.
"I'm just trying to do my job," he said. "I missed one and I was fortunate it (an interception) came back to me."
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:04 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Tale of Two Halves
In the first half, the Patriots' defense was pushed around by the jaguars.
In the second half, New England's defense didn't exactly resemble Pittsburgh's old Steel Curtaion, but it got the job done when it had to.
"We didn't play particularly well in the first half," said veteran safety Rodney Harrison, who sealed the win with a fourth-quarter interception. "We left too many plays on the field. We executed better in the second half. At the end of the game we made more plays. We'll learn from the mistakes we made and get better."
Veteran linebacker Junior Seau offered a similar critique.
"In the first half we were chasing them," said Seau of the opening 30 minutes, which ended with the teams tied at 14-14.
"In the second half we calmed down and allowed our schemes to take over. We're proud of that, but we need to correct all the mistakes we made in the first half," he said.
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:57 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
No Frustration for Randy Moss
FOXBORO, Mass. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars took away Randy Moss, but still didn't come away with a victory.
Despite limiting Moss -- who set an NFL record this season with 23 touchdown receptions, while catching 98 passes for 1,493 yards -- to just one catch, for 14 yards, the Jags were shredded through the air by Tom Brady, who completed 26 of 28, including 16 in a row, for an NFL-record completion percentage of 92.9 and three touchdowns, without an interception.
"They did a great job of controlling me," Moss said, "but a bad job of controlling the team."
And just how did the Jags put the wraps on Moss?
"Well," he said, "I think they got back to the old way to cover me. That's putting two and three guys on me for the whole game. And they were beating me up a little bit in the first half."
Moss' only catch came on the Patriots' first possession, and it was an important one, coming, as it did, on 4th-and-5 at the Jacksonville 40. After Brady hit him for a gain of 14, the Pats went on score a touchdown that tied the score, 7-7.
"It didn't frustrate me, whatsoever," Moss said of the Jaguars' blanket coverage. "We got a victory, and I'm proud of that."
He's also proud of what he and Brady have accomplished so far in this record-setting, perfect-to-date season.
"I've always been a fan of Tom's," Moss said. "I'm happy to be on the guy's team. He doesn't surprise me, because we expect greatness out of our leader."
And what does he expect in the way of coverage in next Sunday's AFC championship game?
"It's playoff time," he said. "No telling what what you're going to see."
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 12:50 AM | Permalink
| Comments 1
Big Gain, Big Embarrassment
Donte' Stallworth experienced emotional highs and lows on the same play in the fourth quarter.
It was a 53-yard catch-and-run play that set up the Pats' final points, a field goal. The catching part was just fine. It was the running part that tripped him up, literally, when he seemingly had nothing but an open field and the end zone ahead of him for what would have been a 76-yard scoring strike.
But Stallworth took a peek at the Jumbotron, and the next thing he knew, he was on the turf at Gillette Stadium, victim of a shoe-string tackle by the Jaguars' Rashean Mathis. It was an embarrassing moment for Stallworth, and his teammates didn't give him a pass. Nor did friends and family from his home area of Sacramento, Calif.
"I've got 15 text (messages) from home," said Stallworth ruefully. "The guys in the locker room are all over me. It hurts, but we won.
The play was a conceived bit of improvisation.
"I was running a hitch route, but the (defender) jumped it and when I looked back I saw (QB) Tom (Brady) moving in the pocket a bit so I took off up the field. Tom made a good play," said Stallworth, whose change in routes put him behind Mathis.
Stallworth admitted taking a peek at the Jumbotron, which he said cost him the TD.
"I just wanted to see where he (Mathis) was," said Stallworth. "I was too worried about him instead of just running. I didn't press my turbo button. The end result wasn't what I wanted, but we won the game."
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:45 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
Watson, I Presume
Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson was famished.
He caught five touchdown passes in the first five games, but only one over the team's final 11 games. It wasn't as if he didn't want to taste the end zone.
"I'm always hungry to catch another touchdown pass," said Watson.
His appetite was satisfied last night in the Pats' 31-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.
Watson snagged a pair of touchdown throws from Tom Brady, helping New England earn its berth in next Sunday's AFC title game.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder found his way to the back of the end zone with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter, and he and Brady teamed up for a nine-yard scoring strike with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"It was just my chance to make some plays," said Watson, who caught 36 passes for 389 yards this season. "I'm just glad Tom found me in the end zone. That's what you work all these weeks for, just for the chance to come out here and play."
Not that Watson was the primary receiver on either TD.
On the first one, Brady surveyed the field and fired a high sizzler that Watson somehow was able to hang onto.
"I ran a flag route, and I didn't think Tom would come to me," said Watson, whose only two catches of the game found him in paydirt. "I looked back and everybody was covered. Tom kind of gave me a nod to go to the back (of the end zone) and (I was) uncovered and he put it right there."
Watson wasn't the primary receiver on touchdown number two, either. In fact, he was the third option.
"I think the DB fell down or something," he said. "It was a play designed to get somebody else open but you never know who's going to open up. That's why you play every play like it's your last one. You try to get open on every play. Tom does a great job of getting the ball to the open receiver."
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:28 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
An Oscar for Tom Brady
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Perhaps an Oscar ought to be added to Tom Brady's lengthy list of postseason awards.
"I'm looking for my Academy award," Brady said, flashing that matinee idol smile.
He certainly deserves at least one, for Best Actor in a Pseudo-Statue of Liberty Play.
And a convincing case could be made that he also should get one for Best Actor in a Starring Role for his outstanding performance in the Patriots' 31-20, AFC semifinal playoff victory over Jacksonville at Gillette Stadium.
As for the first Oscar, let us start with the assertion that, if Brady decides he no longer wants to be a star quarterback, nor even a star on stage, screen, or television, he could be a phenomenal prestidigitator.
That is to say, a sleight-of-hand man.
The guy is an absolute magician with the football -- and not just when he's throwing it.
With the score tied, 14-14, six minutes into the second half, and the Pats facing a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, Brady threw his arms into the air as the ball was snapped, making it seem as if running back Kevin Faulk had gotten the ball directly from center Dan Koppen and was headed into the line.
But, in reality, the ball did go to Brady, who tucked it on his hip, out of sight of the Jaguars. As the Jags converged on Faulk, Brady found Wes Welker open at the back of the end zone, near the goalposts, and threw to him for the touchdown that put the Patriots ahead to stay.
"We call (the play) 'double-pop,' " Brady said. "We just put it in Friday, and I thought we had a shot on it. I think (the Jaguars) bit on the run pretty good, and Wes did a great job. I just had to drop it over the linebacker."
Brady did a phenomenal job against a Jacksonville defense determined to take away the Patriots' big-play wide receiver, Randy Moss.
Moss set an NFL record this season with 23 touchdown catches among his 98 receptions, for 1,493 yards. The Jaguars limited him to just one catch, for 14 yards.
Which fazed Brady not at all.
"The thing with trying to take away Randy, or any player," he said, "is that you're vulnerable in a lot of other places."
All of which Brady found in riddling the Jacksonville defense for 26 completions in 28 attempts, for 262 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception
That's a 92.9 completion percentage -- an NFL playoff record.
"I thought we were efficient throwing the ball," said Brady, possibly setting a record for understatement. "Even if you're taking two guys every play and putting them on Randy, then you leave a lot of other guys 1-on-1.
"When guys are open, it's my job to hit them. They were open every time. It's easy when you have receivers that are open all the time, and an offensive line that never lets anyone touch you. It makes it fun to play."
And fun to watch.
Although, as tight end Kyle Brady pointed out: "I think we get spoiled sometimes."
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 12:15 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0
He completed the first 16 passes he threw, and overall he was an amazingly accurate 26 for 28, good for 262 yards, including three touchdown passes.
Tom Brady's only incompletions were a pair of drops, by tight end Benjamin Watson and by wide receiver Wes Welker.
For most quarterbacks, such a scintillating performance in a high-pressure playoff game would have had teammates reaching for as many superlatives as they could conjure up. But for the Patriots after their QB had led them past Jacksonville, 31-20, and into the AFC Championship Game next Sunday? Well, to paraphrase a Red Sox slogan, it was just a case of Tom Brady being Tom Brady.
Ho, hum. So what's new?
Okay, so maybe that's a bit of a simplification.
"That's what we've come to expect," said Watson, who was on the receiving end of two of Brady's TD tosses. "It's not like we haven't seen him play great in the playoffs before."
"That number 12, he's pretty good," chimed in veteran offensive tackle Matt Light.
Not that they take Brady for granted. And they have a great deal of respect for him.
"When you have a group of receivers that we have and him as the QB, this (type of efficiency) is not unexpected," said Light. "Tom and the (receivers, including the running backs) have worked hard all year. And Tom does a good job of avoiding the rush and making plays, which is something the guys on the offensive line really appreciate."
But 26 for 28, missing out on a perfect night only because of a couple of drops?
"That's why he's the MVP of the league," said Donte Stallworth, who hooked up with Brady for a key 53-yard pass and run play in the fourth quarter, leading to the final points of the game, a 35-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
-- STEVEN KRASNER
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:04 AM | Permalink
| Comments 0