Another pair of pass rushers for Brady


Another pair of pass rushers for Brady

FOXBORO -- The reeling Redskins look like yet another easy mark for New England. Of course, that doesn't mean Tom Brady will make it through the game unscathed. Quite the contrary. For the second week in a row, Brady and the Patriots offensive line is going up against a monster pair of pass rushers -- last week Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis of Indianapolis -- this time, linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

"I feel like every week we're talking about pass rushers, but we've played quite a few good pass rushers this year," Brady said before Wednesday practice. "I think Orakpo and Kerrigan are right up there in terms of their ability to set the edge in the running game, to collapse the pocket, to strip sack the quarterback. Even if they're not sacking the quarterback, they're forcing the ball out quickly.

"I think they're the key to the whole defense."

Defense is one of the few things Washington is doing well.

The Redskins have racked up 33 sacks this season for fifth-most in the NFL. Unfortunately for their victims, they're coming in from all angles; Washington is one of only three NFL teams with four different players having at least 4.5 sacks on the season. Kerrigan has 6.5, Orakpo 6.0, Adam Carriker has 5.0, and Stephen Bowen 4.5.

Keeping Brady upright will make for one hell of a day for Matt Light and the rest of the offensive line.

"Orakpo and Kerrigan play within that system really well," Light said. "I think both of them are very good at being relentless up the field. Mobile, mover type of guys; they've got great motors."

The respect inspired by these bookend partners is even more impressive considering how young they are. Orakpo has just two seasons under his belt. Pro Bowls? Two. Kerrigan, Washington's first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, has 61 tackles (seven for losses) and 26 quarterback pressures. His four forced fumbles is tied for third in the NFL.

The point of all the numbers is simple: they determine the degree of difficulty Brady will have with execution. When it comes to pass rushers, he said, a quarterback understands they're going to find him at some point. Brady won't have all day to figure out the best play possible. Routes will have to be coordinated with the protection and the protection will have to be excellent.

"Not sure if "fun" is the technical term for this match up," Light laughed. "Challenging... yeah, yeah sure. 11-years worth of being challenged. It's getting to be... "

Well, let's just say some of the thrill has gone.

Oh, but the Redskins could provide a few thrills with their versatility. Washington's pass rush has helped produce one of the league's top third-down defenses: 104 of opponents' 164 opportunities have been third-and-6 or longer, and only 25-percent of those (26 chances) have been converted.

No big deal, says Brady. The Patriots will just have to prepare for... everything.

"That's the challenging part from the quarterback standpoint is they do a lot of different things in their nickel groupings, so you have to be prepared for a variety of looks. They can pressure the quarterback, they can play a lot of double coverage, and everything in between. So you have to prepare for a three-man rush, you prepare for an eight-man rush at times.

"I think that's the thing that really keeps offenses off balance is that you're really not sure what you're going to get from down-to-down. They really seem to mix it up."

Another predicted win for the Patriots? Yup. It just might be another ugly one.

Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."