When the Patriots got the ball trailing by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Jets, the table seemed set for Tom Brady.
Six days earlier, he tore the heart from the Bills’ collective chests and showed it to them. Why should the Jets be any different to Brady, who’s built a Hall of Fame-worthy career on such moments?
Well, it was different. This time, Brady didn’t come through. The drive stalled, the game ended and the Jets celebrated. And it became a little clearer that, right now, the 2009 Patriots are built solely around what Brady can do for them.
We mentioned it earlier but it bears repeating. Through two games, Brady has thrown exactly 100 passes (53 Monday, 47 today). That puts Brady — coming off reconstructive knee surgery and operating with a “sore” shoulder — on pace for an NFL-record 800 attempts.
Meanwhile, New England’s run the ball 43 times. The concept of offensive balance is overrated. If you can move the ball more easily through the air than on the ground, throw it. That’s how the Patriots rolled in 2007. But if you’re throwing because you cannot move the ball on the ground, then you may have bigger issues. And that’s where the Patriots looked to be against New York.
Brady was never sacked Sunday, but he was under duress all day. And his receivers were jammed up. He failed to complete at least half of his passes for only the third time since the start of the 2006 season. The last time it happened was the last time he faced a Rex Ryan defense — December of 2007 in Baltimore.
Said wide receiver Randy Moss after the game, “With the firepower that we got, it is a little frustrating. I’m not going to sit here and lie. At the same time, when things go bad, you have to find ways to win. Toward the end of the game, we kept going backwards as a whole offensive unit. We just didn’t make things happen.”
Actually, Brady didn’t make things happen. And right now, if he doesn’t for the Patriots, who will?