Brady: Offense slowed by negative plays

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Brady: Offense slowed by negative plays

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's first pass Sunday ricocheted off a helmet and was intercepted on a diving one-handed play by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. It was an inauspicious start to what finished up as a forgettable afternoon for the quarterback.

Sure, it was the 34th consecutive game in which he threw for a score, the fourth-longest streak of all time. And, yeah, he also locked up the fourth spot on the NFL's all-time passing yardage list, surpassing Johnny Unitas.

But after finishing 28-for-46 for 316 yards, a touchdown and an interception, one look at the scoreboard -- a 20-18 win for the Cardinals -- was enough for Brady to know that he left points on the field.

Particularly unnerving for him were the "negative plays" -- penalties, sacks, tackles behind the line of scrimmage -- that stalled New England's offense.

"Offensively, when you dont play well and you dont play consistently, if youre not going to get a big play, then you have to drive the ball," Brady said, "and you cant drive the ball if you're always two steps forward, one step back. Thats the way it felt today. Wed get the drive going and then there would be a negative play and wed be forced to try to make a miraculous play to get back on track. It just wasnt a very good day in that sense."

Through three quarters, Brady was 14-for-25 for 150 yards and a pick. He had also been sacked three times. Without Aaron Hernandez, who left in the first quarter with an ankle injury, the game plan was changing, and Brady looked off.

It wasn't until New England's penultimate drive in the fourth quarter -- its only touchdown drive of the day -- that Brady appeared to be in rhythm. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, he completed five consecutive passes in a no-huddle attack that quickly moved the Patriots from their own 18 yard line all the way to Arizona's 28.

They were fast, they were efficient. And Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady. He was on time with his throws and he fit passes in to tight windows to Rob Gronkowski, who before that drive had just one catch for nine yards.

Brady capped the series with a five-yard touchdown strike to Gronkowski, finishing the drive 8-for-10 for 82 yards.

Wes Welker noticed the offense began to click when it went into hurry-up mode.

"We work on that a lot," Welker said. "We practice it and it was effective for us, especially late in the game. It was crunch time and we were able to make some plays and get down the field and score. We just have to finish a lot of those drives on touchdowns instead of field goals."

Of course, one more field goal would have won the game. But Brady explained that if he and the offense had played more efficiently leading up to Stephen Gostkowski's missed game-winning attempt, a win would have been in hand long before that wayward boot.

"Its a team game and certainly we shouldnt have been leaving it up to that particular situation . . . We just came up short," Brady said. "We have opportunities to make plays and were just not making them. Just too inconsistent throughout the day to really put enough points on the board."

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

Josh McDaniels will be staying put in New England, he said on Monday, because that's what's best for him and his family at this point in time. 

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The Patriots offensive coordinator was a front-runner for the open head-coaching job in San Francisco but has removed his name from consideration.

"I was really impressed with [Niners owner and CEO] Jed York and [Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations] Praag [Marathe] and [Director of Football Administration and Analytics] Brian [Hampton] and the people that came from the 49ers organization. They did a great job with their presentation. Again, humbled to be included in that process.

"At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

Next season will be McDaniels' sixth full season back with the Patriots since returning during the playoffs of the 2011 season.

"I've always said how grateful I am to have this opportunity to work here with Mr. Kraft and his family, and coach under Bill with a lot of great guys on our staff, and to have the privilege to get to work with the players that we work with each day," McDaniels said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm very thankful to be here, and very much looking forward to this week against Pittsburgh."