By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- Deion Branch's 59-yard touchdown reception down the left sideline to end the first half in Sunday's 36-7 win over the Bears gave the Patriots a 33-0 lead. But as Branch pointed out after the game, the call from the sideline was a quarterback kneel, to run out the clock and head into halftime with a 27-0 lead.
Tom Brady was in the no-huddle, saw the clock winding down, and decided to go for one more big play. And it worked.
Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Brady made a wise decision.
"We were in the no-huddle mode, and I thought that was a real smart play by Tom, at the end of the half, knowing that there was really only time for one more play," said Belichick. "And I think that when the ball was snapped, the three or four seconds left on the clock, it could have been the last play. So he took a shot down the field on a vertical pattern.
"Tom knew what he was doing, obviously, that he was just running the last play to have a shot to throw it down the field. If it was there, great. If it wasn't, then the half was over."
The Patriots held meetings on Monday at Gillette Stadium and cornerback Devin McCourty, who missed the second half of Sunday's game in Chicago with an apparent rib injury, was seen walking around with all smiles.
As expected, Belichick gave no update on the severity of McCourty's injury, but did show some confidence in Darius Butler, who has seen some more playing time as of late, after being benched in favor of Kyle Arrington earlier in the season.
"Whoever's out there on the field, if we don't have confidence in them, then we wouldn't put them out there," said Belichick.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' status for next Sunday night at Gillette Stadium is uncertain. He suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday in a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions. His first concussion came in October against the Washington Redskins. He played the next week, which is why the Patriots aren't ruling him out, as they prepare for the Packers next Sunday night.
"Well, we always have to prepare for all the quarterbacks," said Belichick. "We know that this happened earlier in the year and he was back out there the next week. He's a great competitor and he's a terrific quarterback; I'm sure he'll do everything he can to be out there. Wherever that leads, and wherever that ends up, it ends up. It's out of our control. What we can control is our preparation."
Belichick said he's going to prepare for the Packers' backup quarterback, Matt Flynn, in case Rodgers doesn't make the start. But he won't draw up a completely different defensive game plan.
"Their offense is still their offense," said Belichick. "For them, if they change quarterbacks, it's not like they've got a hundred new plays that they haven't run before, just because they put one guy in there. They still run the plays that they run."
As for the Patriots players, they're being told to get ready for Rodgers, as of Monday.
"I don't know yet, but as far as what I've heard today, we're preparing for Aaron Rodgers," said Butler.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.