Curran: Brady seems to know engine's running too hot


Curran: Brady seems to know engine's running too hot

LANDOVER, Md. - Things got heated on the Patriots' sideline Sunday afternoon. Check it out one more time here. The play that precipitated the uncommon explosion was an end-zone pick thrown by Tom Brady with 6:37 remaining and the Patriots ahead, 34-27. Brady, looking to Tiquan Underwood running the back line of the end zone, floated a third-and-goal pass from the 4-yard line that was snatched by Josh Wilson. So the Patriots, with a chance to go up two scores, now had to hang on. Ultimately, they did. But the next six minutes were hairy on the field and hot off of it. Brady, seated on the bench, seemed to tell Underwood that he needed to go get the ball. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien disgustedly seemed to tell Brady it wasn't Underwood's fault. Brady fired back at O'Brien, O'Brien peeled off his headphones and gestured at the field, Brady fired back again and then backup quarterback Brian Hoyer stepped between the men to cool things. Didn't work. O'Brien circled back again and then receivers coach Chad O'Shea and head coach Bill Belichick stepped in. So what happened?"I threw a pretty bad interception so he wasn't happy about it," Brady explained. "It was probably a long line of coaches and players that were pretty pissed at me after that, but Billy got to me first and he let me have it. I deserved it . . .
"We're both pretty emotional guys," Brady said. "That's what I deserve. You make bad plays, you're supposed to get yelled at by your coaches. Certainly not the first time and probably won't be the last. Can't do it in that situation and it was just a stupid play by me."In the locker room, Hoyer asked if the scene had been caught on camera. When toldthat it had,Hoyer said that the coach and quarterback were "hugging each other" a few minutes later. Regardless if that was hyperbole,Brady andO'Brien did sit andlook at defensive photos together within minutes of the dustup. Brady was wise to not escalate the O'Brien confrontation by getting to his feet because then it would have almost certainly gone from verbal to physical. Brady seemed to have an edge to him on the field all game. His tendency to upbraid receivers openlyin recent years - a departure from earlier in his career - was in full flower as he went at Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez and showed disgust with a BenJarvus Green-Ellis drop. It seems to be a trait great quarterbacks develop later in their careers. Theyare evolved in reading defenses. They have the luxury of standing back and watching a play develop from a clearer vantage point than a receiver running a route with a defensive back on him. A decision that seems clear to a player like Brady may not be so clear to a player like Hernandez or Underwood. Brady's engine runs exceptionally hot and that's what makes him great. He's driven. But he's starting to toe the line of showing up teammates too often. Given Brady seemed pretty chastened after the game, it will be interesting to see if he taps the brakes and returns to using a more gentle hand with his receivers. He certainly was sounding a little more introspective. Yelling happens. Arguments happen. With expletives. And accusations. A football sideline isn't a normal office and nobody's running to HR. "It's football, man. It's emotion. That's athletics," Brady explained.
The difference is that it's a scene rarely seen on the Patriots' sideline.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks


Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.