Monday, December 9, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Bill Belichick simply calls them "the next guy."
Tom Brady has at least one touchdown pass in 39 straight games after throwing two Sunday, and he’s now 9-1 for his career in overtime games.
The Associated Press
They are the New England Patriots reserves who are called on to step in and perform as well as the starters.
In Sunday's 29-26 overtime victory over the New York Jets, the two most prominent "next guys" were offensive linemen Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald.
Thomas found out before the game that he was going to start at left guard in place of the injured Logan Mankins. McDonald got the call at right guard when Dan Connolly had to leave the game after one series because of illness.
The offense didn't suffer much. New England ran for 131 yards, and Tom Brady was sacked only once.
"They did a good job," said Belichick. "It's the next guy stepping up and doing his job. Nick did that for us last year."
Belichick also credited tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer for their play.
"The next guy just has to step in and play as well as he can," said Thomas, in his second year with New England. "It's like that on every single team. All the other teams I've been on (Miami and Detroit) have the same philosophy: you come in and play just as well or try to play better than who you're replacing and not hurt the team.
"Nick did a great job stepping up at a minute's notice and ready to go."
Connolly came down with a stomach bug Sunday morning. He came out for the first series but had to leave.
"You try not to let it become a distraction," said Thomas. "You know you've got guys who can step up and play. It's unfortunate when one of your starters gets sick before the game."
Of course, the Patriots have one of the best offensive line coaches in the game in Dante Scarnecchia. He has his players prepared to play at a minute's notice, and prepared to play several positions.
As well as the line played Sunday, Thomas knows they'll hear about their mistakes.
"There's always room for improvement," he said. "There's always places we can do better. And we're never satisfied. We've just got to keep working."
THE PATRIOTS rolled up 381 yards of offense, their 16th consecutive game of at least 350 yards. That ties the NFL record set by the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2000. Those Rams teams, of course, featured Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk.
NEW ENGLAND is 6-0 when wearing its red-white-and-blue throwback jerseys and "Pat Patriot" helmets at home.
THE PATRIOTS have thrived in overtime since Tom Brady became the starting quarterback. New England is 9-1 in overtime games with Brady, the only loss coming on Oct. 11, 2009, 20-17 at Denver.
Sunday's overtime game was the first for the Patriots since 2010, when they beat Baltimore on Oct. 17, 23-20 on a 35-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with 1:56 left in the extra session.
BRADY THREW two touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski, extending his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 39. That's the third-longest streak in NFL history, behind Drew Brees (49, current) and John Unitas (47).
PATRIOTS LINEBACKERS were pretty active in this one. Jerod Mayo had 11 tackles, Brandon Spikes 10 and Dont'a Hightower (in his first game back after missing two) seven.
Jets defensive lineman Mike Devito, the former UMainer, had three tackles.
LONDON IS next, with the Patriots playing the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The team is taking a red-eye flight Thursday.
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: