December 18, 2012

Tom Caron: As great as Brady is, he still needs some help

Gisele Bundchen was right.

Remember Mrs. Brady's rant after February's Super Bowl? After the Patriots lost to the Giants, Bundchen was heard saying "My husband can't (expletive) throw and catch the ball at the same time!"

No, he can't. But he tried his best to do it all Sunday night against the 49ers.

Brady threw a career-high 65 passes in the 41-34 loss to the team he idolized as a kid. He single-handedly got his team up off the mat as it rallied from a 28-point deficit. Had New England's defense matched his effort, the Patriots could have tied the biggest come-from-behind win in NFL regular-season history.

Wrap up the MVP trophy and ship it to Foxborough. Brady threw for 443 yards against the NFL's best defense, doing it on a day when the Pats had no running game. They ran for just 95 yards in the freezing rain. New England's running backs had as many fumbles as they had rushing touchdowns.

In other words, by the time Brady got the team's offense going, the Niners knew New England wasn't going to run. They were looking for the pass and still couldn't do anything about it.

Brady ran for a touchdown. Later he ran for 5 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Danny Woodhead. He even made one of the game's key tackles, taking down Carlos Rogers at the 5 after Rogers intercepted a Brady pass. The 49ers didn't score.

We're still not sure what to make of the group playing defense in Foxborough. There are seven teams in the NFL averaging more points per game than San Francisco, yet Colin Kaepernick moved the ball at will for much of the game Sunday night. The young quarterback seemed especially intent on exposing New England's secondary, throwing deep repeatedly.

The Patriots were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball. The weather outside was frightful, but four turnovers ultimately did New England in.

"We just made too many mistakes when we needed to make the plays," Brady said after the game.

It was a stunning turnaround from the previous week, when Brady and Co. dismantled the Houston Texans. Houston came to Foxborough looking to show the world it was ready to compete for a spot in the Super Bowl, that it had joined the league's elite teams.

It didn't happen.

Six days later, Pats fans were left wondering where their team fits into the pantheon of football contenders. Some thought this was a potential Super Bowl preview. If New England is going to get back to the big game in February, it'll have to improve in all facets of the game -- especially on defense.

New England has one of the best quarterbacks in the league. We're not sure what else they have. On Sunday night, Brady was almost enough to pull out a win.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.

 

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