Tom Brady proves, once again, that you shouldn’t bet against him or the Patriots
Tom Brady told New York Jets media earlier this week that his goal is to play for another 10 years.
For the Jets’ sake, he had better not.
Brady’s dominance was on display once again Sunday in New England’s 30-23 win over New York at Gillette Stadium.
His quarterbacking statistics were impressive – 34 of 54 for 355 yards with three touchdowns (two passing, one running) – but don’t do justice to how well Brady played in a game in which New England placed its entire offense on his shoulders by disregarding the run. Patriots receivers dropped at least 10 passes with six of those flubs coming from Brandon LaFell in his first game off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Brady didn’t get frustrated. Instead, he just kept throwing. And throwing. And throwing.
After having fallen behind, 20-16, early in the fourth quarter, Brady converted on a critical third-and-17 with a strike to Julian Edelman across the middle of the field. Following three straight completions to tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady capped the drive by drilling an 8-yard scoring strike to Danny Amendola that showed his 38-year-old arm still has plenty of juice.
Once the Patriots defense held on the next series, Brady went right back to work with the Gronkowski-Amendola-Edelman triumvirate. The game-clinching play came with 1:13 remaining. Recognizing a heavy Jets blitz coming from the left, Brady lofted a 15-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Gronkowski that extended New England’s lead to 30-20.
This game also was a reminder that the Patriots (6-0) are good enough to overcome their own mistakes and their opponents aren’t. A prime example: New York’s chance to tie the score in the closing seconds after recovering an onside kick was squandered after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a short pass across the middle of the field to the Patriots’ 37-yard line with the Jets out of timeouts. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall couldn’t get back to the line of scrimmage and set in time before the next snap, resulting in a false start and 10-second clock runoff that ended the game.
Earlier, Marshall had dropped a pass at the goal-line that forced New York (4-2) to settle for a Nick Folk field goal early in the fourth quarter rather than further extend a 17-16 lead.
Fitzpatrick then made a suspect third-down decision on the next drive, eschewing more established receivers by unsuccessfully trying to connect on a deep pass to a rookie (Devin Smith) who was targeted only once earlier in the game and has five catches this season.
This was the first contest this season that New England trailed entering the fourth quarter. Head coach Bill Belichick’s squad looked human enough, especially in the secondary, that another 16-0 run like the 2007 Patriots probably won’t be in the offing.
It’s not preposterous to think that first loss could come Thursday night against visiting Miami (3-3), which has looked like world-beaters since Dan Campbell replaced Joe Philbin as interim head coach.
But even with the AFC fielding two other undefeated teams (Cincinnati and Denver), the Patriots show all the earmarks of a franchise destined to reach the Super Bowl for the seventh time since Brady won his first championship 15 years ago. Could that dominance actually last for a quarter-century if Brady was able to play at a high level for an additional decade?
The win over the Jets was another reason why I wouldn’t bet against it.
Miami 44, Houston 26: Can we put Dan Campbell in the Pro Football Hall of Fame already? Miami’s resurgence under his watch continued for a second straight game during a record-setting rout of Houston. The Dolphins became the first team in NFL history with four offensive touchdowns of 50-plus yards in a half while jumping to a 42-0 lead. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill set another mark by completing his 25th consecutive pass (going back to last week’s win over Tennessee) before throwing an incompletion in an 18-of-19 aerial display. Houston’s dismal showing was made even worse when running back Arian Foster suffered what is believed a torn Achilles tendon that would sideline him for the rest of the season.
Kansas City 23, Pittsburgh 13: The Chiefs continue to sputter on offense — three first-half drives deep inside Steelers territory ended with short Cairo Santos field goals — but it didn’t matter with Pittsburgh quarterback Landry Jones throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in his first NFL start. The Steelers hope Ben Roethlisberger (knee) will be back for next Sunday’s big AFC North matchup against division-leading Cincinnati.
St. Louis 24, Cleveland 6: The spectacular start to Todd Gurley’s NFL career continued with the rookie running back posting his third straight 100-yard rushing performance since debuting in Week 4. Gurley had 128 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Browns quarterback Josh McCown lost two of Cleveland’s four fumbles and suffered a shoulder injury that pressed backup Johnny Manziel into action during the fourth quarter. McCown’s status for next Sunday’s game against Arizona wasn’t immediately known.
Minnesota 28, Detroit 19: After showing signs of life on offense last week against Chicago, the Lions became terminal once again by gaining 4 net yards on seven consecutive series spanning from the second-to-fourth quarters. Detroit’s pass protection was especially lousy with Lions quarterback Matt Stafford getting sacked seven times. Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs continued his strong rookie season with a team-high six catches for 108 yards that included a diving 36-yard touchdown grab.
Washington 31, Tampa Bay 30: The Redskins are a greatly flawed team, but they haven’t quit under head coach Jay Gruden. Washington mounted the largest comeback in franchise history by overcoming a 24-0 deficit. The game-winning touchdown play was beautifully crafted, with the Redskins grouping four wide receivers along the left sideline, creating defensive confusion that helped free tight end Jordan Reed from the right slot for a 6-yard scoring pass from Kirk Cousins.
Atlanta 10, Tennessee 7: Zach Mettenberger is now 0-7 as a starter after a two-interception outing against the Falcons. Please remember this to temper excitement the next time Mettenberger’s name comes up as potential trade bait for a quarterback-needy team.
New Orleans 27, Indianapolis 21: Falling behind 27-0 early in the third quarter, the Colts played like a team still hungover from the way in which last Sunday’s loss to New England transpired. Indianapolis’ comeback hopes Sunday ended when Drew Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 20-yard completion on third-and-2, allowing the Saints to run out the clock. Even with the loss, the Colts (3-4) still lead the pitiful AFC South.
Jacksonville 34, Buffalo 31: After squandering a 24-point lead, the Jaguars avoided an epic collapse thanks largely to a highly dubious pass interference penalty and a 31-yard Blake Bortles touchdown pass to Allen Hurns with 2:16 remaining. The fact Buffalo made it a competitive game should be good news for Yahoo!, which presented the first free online streaming game in NFL history.
Oakland 37, San Diego 29: It wasn’t coincidence that San Diego’s horrific pass defense corresponded with star free safety Eric Weddle (groin) missing his first game since 2009. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Clive Walford all caught touchdowns as quarterback Derek Carr shredded the Chargers for 289 yards on 24 of 31 passing, helping Oakland take a 31-point lead and hold on for the win.