Friday, March 7, 2014
The Associated Press
The numbers say Tom Brady is having another outstanding season.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves the room after a media availability at the team's NFL football facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) talks with quarterback Tom Brady (12) during practice at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
— Sixth in passer rating.
— Tied for fifth in touchdown passes.
— Third in yards.
— And first in fewest interceptions per attempt.
The New England quarterback has also completed more than 60 percent of his passes in each of the first eight games for the first time. But the Patriots are just 5-3 and he's a key contributor to some of those losses — and very nearly a fourth.
"Tom's always trying to get better and is always working hard at it," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "There are certainly things that he can do better than what we've done in the first portion of the season. I know he'll work hard at trying to maximize his performance."
The 13-year veteran is coming off his best game of the year with four touchdown passes in a 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams. But the two games before that were some of his worst of the season.
Brady threw two interceptions, one into the end zone, and was called twice for intentional grounding in a 24-23 loss in Seattle. Then he couldn't get the Patriots out of their own territory on two consecutive drives after they took a 23-13 lead over the Jets late in the third quarter. That helped New York rally and go ahead 26-23 before Brady did enough to set up two field goals for a 29-26 win in overtime.
"Those last couple of drives, we moved the ball better," he said after that game. "I wouldn't say they were great drives, but they were good enough."
He was much better a week later against the Rams, one of the NFL's weaker teams. Now, after a bye week, he's preparing for Sunday's game with the slumping Buffalo Bills (3-5), a team the Patriots already have beaten 52-28.
"I think everybody clicked," Brady said. "I think the defense clicked. I think the special teams clicked."
The Patriots usually do that against the Bills.
New England is 15-1 in the last 16 matchups vs. Buffalo, losing only last season, 34-31, after leading 21-0 late in the second quarter. That was the only time Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams won in nine at-bats against Brady.
"He's the best I've ever played (against)," Williams said. "I think it's just on the command he has of their offense. He knows what defense you're in, what it might give up, what it might not give up, and he puts them in a good position."
Brady was hard on himself after losing the Super Bowl last season to the New York Giants, 21-17. He was called for intentional grounding from his own end zone, a safety, on the Patriots' first offensive play. Then, he threw two off-target passes with the Patriots ahead 17-15 in the last four minutes.
"There's a lot of opportunities to miss out on," he said. "We definitely had ours and didn't take advantage. I'm right there at the top of the list."
Brady was sharp again at the start of this season.
He completed 74.2 percent of his passes with two touchdowns as the Patriots cruised to a 34-13 win over the Tennessee Titans in the opener. But he threw for a total of only two touchdowns with one interception and six sacks in the next two games, losses to Arizona and Baltimore.
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