The Patriots put on a show in Tennessee, but there was one moment that may have made all of New England cringe. No, not when Tom Brady got kicked in the face, though that may have made some hearts sink. This was before that, when the Patriots faked a reverse to Wes Welker and Brady had Brandon Lloyd wide open deep down the middle of the field for an easy touchdown . . . until the ball bounced off Lloyd's hands and landed incomplete.
For Patriots fans used to seeing last year's No. 85 make disappointing play after disappointing play, it wasn't exactly the most reassuring sign from Lloyd, who now dons that number.
Lloyd ended up having a solid day: 5 catches for 69 yards, including one of his signature acrobatic receptions. And Brady put fans further at ease on Monday while appearing on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show.
"I'm pretty confident we're not going to miss another one of those all season," said Brady about the one missed opportunity to Lloyd. "It was a great play call. They really sold the reverse that we ran to Wes. We just didn't connect. At the end of the day, we've got to connect. That's the point. In close games we're not going to be able to miss those. I'd be hard-pressed to think we're going to miss another one of those."
Brady spoke about his confidence in all his receivers after the game. He completed passes to six different pass-catchers in New England's 34-13 win down in Nashville.
"I've got so much confidence in all those guys," Brady said. "I think the thing that's been fun is everyone is willing to put the work in. Nobody works harder than Wes Welker. What he commits on a daily basis is so impressive. Talk about a leader for the team. Between his work ethic, what he does, it's really second to none. And then you have Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who have done so much in such a short period of time. And they both love the game.
"Brandon has done everything that the coaches have asked him to do. The way Stevan Ridley has worked. They way Julian Edelman has worked to put himself in a position. He battled all training camp against three receivers in Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch, who aren't on the roster at this time, the competitiveness that he showed.
"I have so much confidence in the guys that I'm out there with. Really, it's a matter of me just trying to find a matchup and then throwing the ball to the right place. It's not really like pick a guy out and throw it to him. It's let's see what the defense is giving us and let's try to get the ball to that guy."
It's a philosophy that has made Brady one of the best of all time. Against the Titans he solidified his spot among the league's most accomplished by throwing for his 302nd touchdown. He is now fifth on the all-time list, one spot ahead of John Elway.
A great accomplishment, sure. But Brady explained just how little records like that mean to him in the grand scheme of things.
"I want to win," he said. "That's what I care about. I don't care if we run it, throw it. If we ran for 50 touchdowns in a year, that would make me happier than anything. I'm just trying to win. I love winning. There's nothing like waking up Monday morning talking to you guys, winning. Going to bed last night, winning. The flight home, winning. That's what it's about. That's why we play. Stats, yards, ratings, I think that's a bunch of BS. At the end of the day, the thing that matters is winning.
"What I'm most happy about is the long training camp, preparations for this upcoming game, everything wasn't perfect in the preseason. We talked a lot about turnovers, penalties, mental errors, and we came out of the game feeling pretty good about that. We got turnovers on defense, the kicking game was complementary, we won the field position. That's what it takes to be a good football team. And that's what I love being a part of."