Brady focused on balance, not record-breaking

550874.jpg

Brady focused on balance, not record-breaking

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff ReporterFollow @mary_paoletti

OAKLAND -- You have to wonder if Tom Brady's getting used to reporters informing him in the postgame of the milestones he reaches. Last week, after the loss to Buffalo, Brady was asked to comment on his four interceptions -- a tally he's avoided since 2009.

Sunday in Oakland was probably more enjoyable.

Brady connected with Deion Branch for six yards and six points in the fourth quarter of New England's 31-19 win over the raiders. That touchdown pass was the 274th of his career and one more than his boyhood idol, Joe Montana.

It was also news to the QB.

"I didn't know that happened," he said. Then: "I'll never be in Joe's category. We throw the ball a lot more than they threw it back then. So, it's much more of a passing league than it's ever been. But, it was a good game for us. Every one of those touchdowns was important today, so it was fun. It was fun to be back out there after last week."

Brady went 16-for-30 for 226 yards, two touchdowns, and zero picks in the bounce-back. His mindset heading into Week 4 was simple.

"Just play my game. I don't think that you ever approach it with, 'I can't go out there and throw interceptions!' Look, if you're going to throw passes, you're going to throw interceptions. That's part of playing quarterback. You try to make reads, try to make good accurate throws, good fundamentals, good technique and all week in practice you work on those things and being balanced and accurate. Playing smart, playing fast.

"If an interception happens, it happens," he said. "You've got to bounce back from them that game, the following week. It's just part of the game. But we did a much better job taking care of the football today, which I think was a big part of why we won."

New England's bid against the Bills was a mess beyond the picks -- miscommunication, missed tackles, penalties, turnovers and forced offense. The ratio of first downs was 21-to-6, air to ground. In the aftermath, coach Bill Belichick challenged his team to play better, to stop giving games away.

Challenge accepted; the Patriots played a clean game on Sunday.

It helped that Oakland was careless. The Raiders committed two turnovers and got slapped with nine penalties for 85 yards, including two early fouls on former Patriot Richard Seymour.

Even more importantly, going to the ground game settled the team. Brady set an NFL record with 1,258 passing yards through the season's first three weeks, but the loss to the Bills was telling: The game plan needed to change.

New England had 11 passing first downs in Oakland and 11 rushing first downs. Explosive rookie Stevan Ridley -- who had six solid carries for 42 yards in Buffalo -- ran on the Raiders 10 times for 97 yards. Number-one back BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 75 yards on 16 carries.

It was as though Brady reached in the back of the armory and dusted off a forgotten but accurate weapon. Suddenly, he had options. Suddenly, he and the offense were even more dangerous.

"It was huge, I think, being able to be more balanced than we've been. We had some big runs. When you see us run the ball in from the 33-yard line . . . that was huge. BenJarvus Green Ellis ran great. Stevan Ridley ran great. That's important.

"It sets up a lot of things. If they can't stop the run then you're just going to keep running it and you're going to control the entire tempo of the game. If they can stop the run, then it's the passing game and that's not where you want to play offense."

Even though that's where all the records are waiting to be broken? Yeah, even though. Because the only record Brady's concerned with is housed within the Patriots' winloss column.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti.

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.