Win over Jets exposes flaw Pats will need to overcome


Win over Jets exposes flaw Pats will need to overcome

FOXBORO Explaining away the Patriots three losses this season was, in a way, easier than making sense of Sundays win over the Jets.

Coulda won against the Cardinals. Shoulda won against the Ravens. Died by their own hand against Seattle.

But this win against the Jets a bad team that owned a 3-3 record thanks to wins over three teams even worse than them shined a light on the Patriots flaws that, until now, seemed ones theyd be able to move past if they just played a bad team they could beat up on.

It was odd to hear Patriots defenders asked about closing out a game they led by 10 points with 17:39 remaining yet needed a game-tying field goal at regulation.

It was bizarre to hear people ask Tom Brady whether he silenced critics with two drives for field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime when, time after time, the New England offense bogged down.

The Jets were that team the Patriots should have pole-axed. Bad quarterback. A team bereft of potent offensive threats and without its best defender. A team that seemed tender mentally and disorganized on its sideline.

And the result? The Patriots powerful offense continually breathed life into New York by failing to finish drives. The Patriots defense flawed as it was made the same mistakes at the same rate against the worst offense its faced. The Patriots coaching staff couldnt effectively communicate who needed to be on the field and when (10 men on the field for the Jets first touchdown) and apparently didnt do enough during the week to drill the secondary on who should cover who on the most basic routes.

The result? A win on the scoreboard but a defeat for anyone under the impression that this team was just a few plays from being elite.

The players werent geared up for introspection. Not after dodging the big green bullet that whizzed past their collective heads.

Our main job was to get out of this game with a W, said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who played a mammoth role in wrecking a few plays for the Patriots that helped secure that W. I dont care how we get it: get a W. Like I said, division game, you cant be pissed off with how you won or the things youve done. I think it was a great team win. It showed a lot from these New England Patriots, just fighting in overtime. Guys banged up, guys tired, offense going out, putting the drive together, defense taking the field and ending the game on a sack fumble. That was good football. I think we played better situational football this week, unlike last week when we just fell down a crack. I think we were prepared, I think we practiced well and I think the guys understood how we wanted to play this game and we played it the way we wanted to.

The Patriots outplayed the Jets in the first half, yet went into the break with just a 16-10 lead. Of the 16 points, only seven came from the Patriots offense.

Patriots drives stalled at their own 45 (a big drop by Brandon Lloyd waylaid that one), the 50 and the Jets 48, their own 45 and the Jets 45 in the first half. Sacks, drops, stuffed runs and penalties were the culprits.

The second half featured more of the same. With a 23-13 lead, another drive stalled at midfield early in the fourth. The Jets then went 92 yards to make it 23-20. And the Patriots whove been plagued by an inability to close out games and drop the lid on an opponents coffin shot themselves in the foot again when a drive began with 5:44 left and the Patriots at their own 21.

A Brandon Lloyd push off made it first-and-20. Then came a near pick and two failed plays and a punt.

The Jets got 21 easy yards on the first play of that drive and settled for a tying field goal after their rookie receiver Stephen Hill dropped an easy pass that would have gone for a first down.

And then, with the score locked at 23, enter Devin McCourty, a player who somehow can play well for the first 45 minutes yet when the time to make game-sealing plays arrives, has an uncanny ability to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

McCourty fumbled the kickoff. The Jets led 26-23 with 1:42 remaining.

Then finally Brady was allowed to be Brady and threw darts that gained 15, 12 and 20 on consecutive plays. Another drop by Lloyd on a ball that hit his body with 22 seconds left forced an overtime-forcing field goal instead of a signature win.

The Patriots had to settle for three again in overtime when the best option on third-and-6 from the Jets 30 was a tough, back shoulder-throw to Aaron Hernandez fell incomplete.

It seemed a low percentage throw.

At some point, it's going to be tight coverage and you've got to make a tough play and they're close and weve got to hit it, Brady explained when asked about that throw. I think thats what it comes down to. I mean, its not like guys are going to be open by five yards with that kind of time left on the clock, that important part of the game. Its close. They either make it or they dont or we either make it or we dont, and we didn't.

Which meant the Patriots had to hang on until someone in the front-seven made a play to save the game. Which Rob Ninkovich did, pouncing on a fumble he and Jermaine Cunningham forced.
If it isnt the front-seven making plays in crunch time, it seems, nobodys going to do it. Certainly not the secondary.

Defensively? The Jets had five pass plays of more than 20 yards against the Patriots defense.

They went 8-for-15 on third down and Mark Sanchez completed 68 percent of his passes when he came into the game as a sub-50 percent passer.

But the win made it possible for Wilfork to apply lipstick to the pig that is the Patriots pass defense.

I think our guys came to work, praised Wilfork. They understood. We got a lot of holding penalties, but what that tells me is they were getting their hands on the receivers; they were trying to be physical with the receivers. You can always look at film and play better technique, but I was proud to actually see these guys get their hands on balls, get their hands on the receivers, make a few plays in a critical situations. It never was perfect; you never play a perfect football game, but at the end of the day, we made more plays to win the ball game and thats the only thing that matters right now.

Right now was about 8 p.m. Sunday night. And the Patriots are entitled to feel relieved and happy that their week of work ended with a win. And that they are 2-0 in the division.
But to hear Bill Belichick say, I think weve improved every week after a performance like that against a team that was totally outgunned? It didnt seem rooted in reality.

The Patriots figure to improve at the things they are bad at. Turns out, they are a lot worse at those things than we gave them credit for. And the excellence expected from this team seems a lot further away after this win than it did after any of their losses.

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate


Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow


Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.