Brady puts the loss on inconsistent offense

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Brady puts the loss on inconsistent offense

BALTIMORE, MD -- Tom Brady will neither talk nor tweet about replacement officials.

"I don't have any control over that, so, I just try to do my job," the quarterback said Sunday night.

As far as he would say, New England's 31-30 loss to Baltimore rests solely on the shoulders of the Patriots.

"We had a chance to win it . . . we just don't play well when we need to. We certainly, you know, we've got to play our best when it means the most and we've got to start winning close games."

Brady finished 28-for-41 for 335 yards, one touchdown, and a 101.2 passer rating.

The numbers for New England's defense are less impressive: 509 total yards surrendered. The officiating was questionable on both sides, but only five of Baltimore's 28 first downs came from flags against the Patriots.

So no matter what might have been going through Brady's mind, he left it alone.

He was equally disinterested in analyzing Welker's playing time, an oft-discussed topic over the last three weeks. He zoomed out big-picture at the end of his response to place emphasis back on Team.

"Yeah, he made plenty of plays out there for us. He's a big part of our offense," Brady said evenly. "It's just a matter of continuing to find ways to get him the ball and continue to spread it around to all the different guys. A lot of guys contributed."

Brandon Lloyd led all receivers with nine catches on 12 targets (108 yards). Welker was right there with Lloyd, catching eight of 10 passes (142 yards). New England also got 77 yards and two of its three touchdowns on the ground.

Brady's seventh drive, with his team was down 21-20, was brilliantly executed.

New England marched 80 yards downfield with the help of a 15-yard personal foul on Bernard Pollard to take back the lead. Brady used Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Kellen Winslow, Welker, and Lloyd as targets. New England showed shotgun and rushed; put Brady under center and passed.

And 11 of the 12 plays came from a no-huddle offense.

"I thought it put a lot of pressure on those guys," Brady said. "I don't think they really fooled us very much with their different looks."

Since he's right, it's curious why New England abandoned the no-huddle at one of the most pivotal points in the game. Like that failed fourth quarter drive.

Brady got the ball with a 30-28 Patriots lead and 4:01 left on the game clock.

What does the effort boil down to? Three incomplete passes, a 7-yard sack, zero no huddle plays, and just 29 yards gained -- 20 of which came from Ravens penalties.

Baltimore had two full minutes to get into field goal range. The 27-yard field goal was good.

"We just didn't move the ball consistently enough to score points, to score touchdowns," the quarterback said. "They're a good defense, they play well at home, and we just didn't really take advantage of our opportunities."

Inconsistent offense isn't the whole story of Sunday's loss. But it's the only story Tom Brady's telling.

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert touched briefly on the team’s unsuccessful attempt to lure Dont’a Hightower away from New England in free agency. 

Hightower returned to the Patriots this month on a four-year, $43.5 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. He was also courted by the Jets and Steelers, among others, with his offer from the Jets reported to be the biggest before they reportedly pulled it due to physical concerns. 

The Steelers also reportedly offered more money than the Patriots, with Jason La Canfora reporting that Pittsburgh offered more than $9 million annually. Hightower’s deal with the Pats pays him $8.7 million per year. 

“We made an attempt [with Hightower], it didn’t work,” Colbert told reporters. “We’re fine. We move on. Vince Williams, we were very confident in Vince. That’s why we signed him to the extension last year. So that if we got to this point and Lawrence had left us, and we didn’t sign anybody from the outside, Vince was certainly capable of stepping up and being the next guy.”

Hightower is entering his sixth season with the Patriots, who selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft. 

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

It's been a long time since Tom Brady's been considered a true underdog. You might have to go back to Super Bowl XXXVI for anyone to remember a time when it seemed like the quarterback with the most championships in NFL history was a long shot to win. 

Not when it comes golf, though. 

Brady's a talented golfer, no doubt. He's eagled at Pebble Beach. He once teamed up with Jim Nantz to beat up on two US presidents

But even Brady knew he faced long odds against Jordan Spieth at Augusta. According to Brady's Instagram page, it seems as though the two Under Armour pitch men made up a foursome at the famed course about two weeks before the Masters kicked off. 

Trying to beat @jordanspieth in golf is like trying to arm wrestle @therock... #DreamBig #NeverGiveUp

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady has also taken on Augusta with Rory McIlroy. Still waiting on those scores to come out, but as with the recent Spieth round, probably shouldn't hold your breath.