By Tom E. CurranNASHVILLE - In the season opener last September, Tom Brady threw 48 times, the Patriots ran it 22 and the defense allowed 488 total yards to the Chad Henne-led Miami Dolphins. Not until Week 5 did the Patriots run it more than they threw it (34-33 against the Jets) and there were only four games in total in which that happened. Games in which the Patriots yielded under 300 yards of total offense? One, that Week 5 game against the Jets. . And games in which the Patriots defense allowed fewer than 73 yards rushing? Zero. The 2011 Patriots were a very, very good team. And it's a tribute to their resourcefulness that they made it all the way to the Super Bowl with a team that was, let's face it, a little out of whack relative to normal measures of balanced, complementary football. Sunday in Tennessee, the Patriots ran it more than they threw it (35-31), they allowed 284 yards of total offense after allowing a near-record 411 yards per game in 2011 and they allowed 20 rushing yards to the Titans and their brilliantly explosive back Chris Johnson. The requisite qualifier that the Patriots were facing a fledgling starter in Jake Locker can be attached, but the fact remains that this Patriots team worked in concert on Sunday. And, for at least an afternoon, the notion that everything won't ride on the right arm of Tom Brady in 2012 was more than just a passing thought. "All through min-camp, training camp, preseason games, we've made a commitment to running the football and you saw it today," said Brady. "When you can control the tempo of the game, it really helps out the rest of the team - it helps special teams, it helps defense. ... You can't just drop back and throw it 50 times a game, right around 30 passes a game is where you want to be."Brady continued his ode to a potent running game, saying, "The toughness of your team is built around running the ball and stopping the run. The critical games and the critical situations, that's the foundation of your team and that's what you're built on and that's what you've got to be able to do. "You've got to run it when they know you're going to run it, I say that all the time," said Brady. "I think with what we do in the run game and play-action game and you spread them out and you run screens, you run draws, you run traps, you spread the ball to all the different receivers, it really makes it hard for the defense to just key in on something and this is what we need to do. You really have to defend everything."On Sunday, it turned out that the Titans could not defend everything. While the Patriots did - the run, the pass (eventually), and their status as the team to beat in the AFC.
Support system in place for Brady
September 10, 2012, 4:45 am