Another Chapter for Tom Brady’s Storybook

There were lots of new faces in the Patriots QB's latest adventure. But in a familiar end, Brady was able to dial up his trademark magic. Plus, my other thoughts on Week 6

 Tom Brady's Patriots seemed destined for a second straight loss ... but the Saints gave them one too many opportunities to take back the game. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)
Tom Brady’s Patriots seemed destined for a second straight loss … but the Saints gave them one too many opportunities to take back the game. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)
Last night was as memorable a regular-season game as I remember for our team.

– Tom Brady, in an early-morning email, some 11 hours after the unlikely 30-27 New England win over previously unbeaten New Orleans.

The latest chapter of the Book of Brady starts with a strange character, one who didn’t play or coach Sunday and was getting roasted for sitting the game out: Rob Gronkowski.

We all thought the Gronk story was over when the pregame shows finished filleting the man and his strange habit of practicing like an Olympian decathlete during the week and then sitting on the couch to watch the game, not play in it. But it turns out he had a very big role in this game, after all. Troy Aikman, early in the second quarter of the Saints-Patriots game on FOX, gave us a pretty big clue with the blanket coverage of Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib shutting out New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham to that point.

“You mentioned Rob Gronkowski and his situation,’’ Aikman said to partner Thom Brennaman, referring to Gronk’s being inactive for the sixth straight week with his mystery forearm injury. “One of the, I guess, positives that comes with that is he ran scout team all week. So the Patriots couldn’t have gotten a better look for having to face Jimmy Graham this week than what Rob Gronkowski showed them … When Bill Belichick decides he’s going to take [an opponent] out of the game, he does it as well as anybody. The key coming into this game for New England was trying to slow down and eliminate Jimmy Graham. That has happened.’’

As if on cue, the Saints snapped the ball two seconds later, with 12:44 left in the second quarter, and Graham ran a 10-yard cross on 3rd-and-10 from the Saints’ 23. Drew Brees fired it to him, with Talib in tight coverage. Graham had the ball in his hands, and Talib hammered it out. Incomplete.

I sensed Aikman was onto something, brilliant football mind that I am.

Brady confirmed it in his email.

“All of us have seen how badly Rob wants to help us win,’’ Brady wrote. “He has definitely given all he could in practice, especially on the scout teams to replicate the other teams’ best receiver. Though they may seem insignificant during the week, they are a huge reason why teams win.’’

What does this have to do with the scintillating end of game for Brady, the one that left Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan looking like his dog just died? Simple: In his previous four games, Graham rubbed out opponents with games of 179, 134, 100 and 135 yards (and five touchdowns). With Talib in his shirt, Graham was targeted six times by Drew Brees, with zero receptions. When you go from one guy accounting for 137 yards a game to zero, that’s going to tend to keep an offense down … and in this era of garish passer ratings and yardage numbers, Drew Brees going three-and-out on seven series in a game is pretty amazing.

“The good teams get better every week,’’ said Brady. “The mental toughness, the work ethic and discipline of all 53 guys on the roster matter.”

That leads us to the end of the game meaning something.

Tom Brady’s targets on New England’s 13 plays in the final 3:29:

patriots1

(The ball was spiked by Brady once.)

Check out that cast. He met Dobson and Thompkins right after the draft. He met Collie two weeks ago. Bolden and Hoomanuwanui are bit pieces, who, with the right players healthy, wouldn’t have been playing this late in a game.

With 3:29 to play, New Orleans took a 24-23 lead, and the Patriots took the ball over. Hoomanawanui caught a four-yard one-hopper on first down (the officials missed the ball hitting the ground before the catch). Second-down karma: Bolden dropped what would have been a first-down conversion, because he ran before he caught it. And on fourth down, Dobson dropped another conversion throw. Belichick clearly figured—reminiscent of his gambit against the Colts in his own territory in 2009, the difference being here he trailed—his chances to make a first down here were better than his defense’s chances to hold the Saints without points. And if the Patriots held the Saints to a field goal, it was still a one-score game.

The Patriots held New Orleans to a field goal, all right. Saints, 27-23. But on the first play with the ball, Brady went for a big chunk downfield, to Edelman up the seam. Beneath him, Dobson was running an incut. It appeared that Brady figured Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis would shadow Dobson underneath when Dobson broke under Edelman. But Lewis stuck with Edelman and intercepted the ball.

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“I saw Julian running through the safety,’’ Brady said, “and made a bad read. My worst play of the night.”

With 2:16 left now, the Patriots had one timeout plus the two-minute warning to stop the clock. One Saints conversion and New England was doomed. But they couldn’t convert. So Brady took over at the Pats’ 30.

How often does a quarterback have a chance three times in the last 3:30 to drive his team to victory? Now Brady was taking his third shot, 70 yards away, with no timeouts, and 73 seconds left. Collie had played one snap in this, his first game as a Patriot. But now he’d be on for the duration. The Patriots put their fastest four receivers on the field, all knowing that time was critical. When they caught a ball in-bounds, they knew to run it to the umpire or head linesman so the spot could happen quickly. Thompkins lined up wide left and Collie in the left slot. Edelman was wide right, and Dobson in the slot. All ran vertical routes, and Brady hit Edelman and Collie on the first two throws for 38 yards, then Dobson for six. After two incompletions, it was 4th-and-4, with 16 seconds left.

We have faced some pretty challenging circumstances these past few months. But no one has listened to the BS outside our football building. Guys have worked hard and have been ready when their number has been called.

Now, Collie had practiced with the team six times. He was in the game now because Danny Amendola was hurt again. “We’ve worked after practice on some things this past week so that he could be in position to help our team win,’’ Brady wrote. “He runs great routes and I liked him on the option route he was running on that particular coverage.”

On the biggest play of the game to this point (the seventh play of Collie’s Patriot career), Brady saw he had the most advantageous matchup—against Malcolm Jenkins, and the Patriots thought the quick Collie could beat the bigger but not-as-quick safety on a little curl option route off the line. Brady’s pass was spot on, Collie gained nine, and he ran the ball in a hurry to the umpire, who placed it down. Brady spiked it. Ten seconds left.

That’s pretty good: A fourth-down conversion, receiver down, receiver pops up, runs the ball to the official, who spots it, the players get set, and Brady spikes it. All in six seconds.

With 10 seconds left at the 17, Brady knew he’d have two shots at the end zone, but he couldn’t waste any time. Same four-wide formation: Thompkins, Collie, Dobson, Edelman. Brady didn’t hide his intention. Thompkins, man to man with veteran Jabari Greer, got half a step on the defender, and Brady threw it a second after getting the snap. Perfect throw. The Patriots like the 6-1 Thompkins because he can be physical in going up to get the ball. He didn’t need to be physical here, but he leaped above Greer and snatched it, getting his feet down cleanly seven yards deep in the corner of the end zone.

Kenbrell Thompkins had just two catches for 28 yards before breaking loose for the last-second 17-yard game-winner against the Saints. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kenbrell Thompkins had just two catches for 28 yards before breaking loose for the last-second 17-yard game-winner against the Saints. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“You can’t give Tom Brady three chances at a two-minute drill,’’ said Brees.

Even when his team is as patchwork as he’s played with in New England. In many ways, that makes this game, and this season, all the more rewarding for Brady. Peyton Manning has Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker; Brady has Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Manning has Julius Thomas. Brady has Michael Hoomanawanui. Manning’s slot guy is Brady’s beloved slot guy, Wes Welker. Brady’s? Maybe Danny Amendola. Or Julian Edelman. Or Austin Collie.

What we love about sports is when we can’t quantify the outcome of a game. This game in Foxboro, even with the Saints on the road, should have belonged to the Saints. But New England’s defense is improving, and you always have a chance with Brady. And this morning, he took a minute to soak it in—before moving on to the next one. Just a minute.

“We have faced some pretty challenging circumstances these past few months,’’ Brady wrote. “But no one has listened to the BS outside our football building. Guys have worked hard and have been ready when their number has been called.

“We have been grinding it out to get to 5-1. I would love to grind another one out to get to 6-1.”

Patriots at Jets, Sunday at 1. The next chapter. It can’t be as good as the last chapter. Can it?

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591 comments
Dave Harrigan
Dave Harrigan

The Hoomanuwanui catch on the final drive was a catch, it bounced off his foot and up into his hands. When they went for it on fourth down if the Saints had scored a touchdown it still would've been a one possession game. Details Peter.

dbteamextreme
dbteamextreme

In regards to the diversity issue..

Whilst there may or may not have been racially motivated reasons for the hires (I am not in a position to say), perhaps the people hired were just the best people for the jobs.  

Why do we have to assume that race had anything to do with it?

BobLang
BobLang

Want a good pumpkin beer, Mr. King? Rogue Brewery's Pumpkin Patch. Go get it. Now. 

TigerFrankBurris
TigerFrankBurris

King and his love for Crybaby Brady is downright distributing

el-cid
el-cid

Come on.  Last 3:29, 6 of 13 (with one spike) 6 different receivers.  Final minute - 4/6 (with that spike) for 70 yards and a TD.  Three of those guys have less than a season of experience.  The Saints in comparison are loaded.  On the throw to Edelman, the Saints had seven, yes, seven guys in coverage and didn't stop it.  Second pass, it wasn't the Saints clock management (for you whiners) they went no huddle - they rushed three (hmmm...that's 8 guys looking to cover a pass) and another completion.  Dobson gets six and gets pushed out (bad move by the db).  Couple incompletes, another for Collie (yeah, he's been with them for five minutes) and then a perfect TD pass. That was a pretty good piece of work whether you hate Brady or not.  

dwc309
dwc309

Eli Manning's had a number of picks this year that boinked off  his receivers hands.  And like you said, he's being chased all over the field.  You need to look else where for a scape goat.

ESe
ESe


Well, it's starting early this year.  Brady is showing signs of really going downhill now.  Yes the receivers are dropping passes, but he's also thrown some really poor passes.  Case in point was Sunday.   Yes, he won the game, but did it have to take him three tries?   There were two passes that point out both past issues and possibly future issues.  Both passes were to Edelman.

One was near the goal line, with Edelman cutting over the middle.  He was open, with room to run.  Brady's pass forced him to slide to the ground to pull it in just off the grass.  He would have had it, but the safety nailed him in the back, forcing him to cough it up.  Had the ball been thrown properly, it would have been in on Edelman's hands, he would have had room to run, and the safety would not have been a factor.  What also concerns me is that Brady stepped into the throw, threw it on a line, and the pass faded, losing some juice at the end.  Could be his arm is fading even on the intermediate throws.

The second was the bomb down the middle into a secondary that had both safeties playing centerfield.  Obvious double coverage, to a receiver who doesn't have a lot of speed, and not even on target.    Another obvious Brady braincramp, just like the one to Matthew Slater in the 2012 AFC Championship vs. Baltimore.

Peter can shout about Brady all he wants, but it was the Pats defense that kept forcing 3 and outs until Brady finally got it right on the 3rd time.   Biggest sign that Patriot nation has lost confidence in Brady? - The stadium was half-empty at the end of the game, something that never ever happens.  Fans have seen too much of Brady's not being able to get things done.


Gronkowski.  All the whining leaking out from the Patriots.   The one thing every one knows, is that when he's on the field,  his motor goes into high gear and stays there;  that's just his mentality, he doesn't do half way.  After all of his operations, these are the facts:

1.  All of the operations.  They indicate there were serious issues.  That means the body has to take more time to heal.  Given the nature of his play, he doesn't need to be rushing his recovery.  This isn't like the low impact play of a lineman where everything's primarily strength on strength.  Gronkowski puts himself in situations where he is going to get hammered, and he has to be ready.

2.  Conditioning.  Because of the operations, Gronk lost the entire off-season for work-outs.  Yes, the healing of his injuries may have been done at the 6 week mark, but his conditioning would still lag behind his healing.

3.   Given the issues with Amendola, if Belichick is trying to stretch this out so Gronk can be at 100% full speed at the appropriate time,  it would be the smart thing to do.  Gronk at full speed would be a hell of a counterpoint to Thompkins.

Amendola - final verdict is in on the Welker issue.   Very sad.


mblack69
mblack69

I'm a huge fan of Peter King and this column, but have to say I'm disappointed to see no mention of the great special-teams performance of Dustin Harris in Sunday night's game against the Redskins.  

SeanHall
SeanHall

Dear Peter,

Great week of football and I always appreciate your column.  I was wondering if NE CB Aqib Talib entered your thinking for defensive player of the week?  He shut down Jimmy Graham and got injured in the process.  It was an amazing display of tough-nosed, old school coverage that was clearly a major factor in containing the explosive NO offense and Brees' production.  What are yoru thoughts?

Sean Hall

AnthonyKlefas
AnthonyKlefas

Random thoughts:

1. Brady is something else. No-name receiving core and still keeps rolling.

2. Houston, the problem is solved, time to blow the whole thing up!

3. NY Giants, ditto with #2

4. Respect to the Jax, know go find your #1 QB in the draft!

5. Pryor says the Raiders still can make the playoffs. Crazy stuff. right? Not really, the AFC wildcard race is still wide open. He just needs to make sure his o-line is aware of the goal!


MikeBailey
MikeBailey

Too bad the Giants cut David Carr. He's used to dodging 300 bullets!

Primecupcake
Primecupcake

How can anyone have the Patriots in their top 5?

They are a fraud team.


treddd
treddd

With all dues respect, how is Dwyane (sp) Harris not a special teams player of the week. If a 90-yard kickoff return, an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a big punt return tackle in the 4th quarter doesn't get you there, I don't know what will.Travis from Ft.Lauderdale

utgjohn
utgjohn

King, it really surprises me that you can write effectively with both hands gripping Tom Brady's cock.

LittleOne4u
LittleOne4u

OPEN Letter Peter King and Website Designers. 

Dear Peter,

I have always respected your writting and insight into the sport arena.  Stories with a touch of experience and honesty in a world of 'more about me' is becoming a rare species on today's news headlines.

Having those thoughts in mind, I feel I am treated to the  Geriatric Ward when visiting the new website. I truelly am NOT, NOT draw to the big font and BIG pictures to each and EVERY article. DID i mention the BIG picture and CLICK on me PICTURE. 

If capital letters are screaming to shouting then  new design website must implies your readers are visually impaired and lack reading skills.

Yes, I understand WINDOW is your $$ backer. But please, must you sell the farm to write your stories? I hope we have not reach that point in journalism.

Thank you for reading this far down in the comments posted field. Most folks don't get past the first 10 responses. 

I hope refine the site to mirror more of your insight into sports and less of the marketing of windows software.

Cheers

P

Bostonctychamps1
Bostonctychamps1

The officiating was one sided, I would agree.  Allowing the Saints receiver to push off and get the last TD for the Saints was pretty egregious.  Without that deliberate non-call, the rest of the game would not have mattered.  Allowing the Saints to target the opponents head all night was pretty bad as well without the penalties.  Multiple times Thompkins and Dobson were being held outside the 5 yard line and while running routes.  So, of course the dimwit New Orleans fans will ignore those deliberate calls not being made.  Poor girls got their panties in a knot because they lost.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

@TigerFrankBurris I am a Patriots hater. But I don't see how anyone can NOT appreciate a win like this if you are a true football fan.

RichardWeed
RichardWeed

@TigerFrankBurris I just breeze over the NE stuff (both football and baseball), the anti-gun rants, and the liberal propaganda. I guess that leave the tweets that he repeats. After watching what NBC lets Costa get away with this will be my last time watching or reading anything that NBC has. I wonder how many viewer they are losing instead of gaining with this kind of stuff

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ESe Brady is increasingly inaccurate each year.  Not many pat fans can acknowledge this reality.  His inaccuracy has a lot to do with the postseason failings of recent years.  Even when he had a "full arsenal of receivers" as some mindless fan said below about Brees.  

I am curious would you have happened to have realized right away what an unbelievably stupid mistake it was to let Welker go and replace him with the injury prone Amendola?  Probably not.  All that "in Bill we trust" ridiculous mindless bs that comes out of Boston.  Why pat fans believe in this guy is beyond any sensible person.  He has rode Brady's coattails and ruined the best years of Brady's career with his egomaniacal personnel decisions.  

See what Gronk is doing?  He doesn't trust BB and why should he?  

mblack69
mblack69

sorry about that - meant Dwayne Harris - Freudian slip for this Aggie.

SportPage
SportPage

@aidanfromworc Your post would be laughable other than that you clearly believe it. That makes it sad.

Reedster
Reedster

@SeanHall Of course he was thinking about Patriot players - it is ALL he thinks about, and writes about. And as a constant physical reminder for him, he has a 12" Patriot phallic device you know where.......

blynder
blynder

@AnthonyKlefas 

That AFC Wildcard race will be... well, wild.  There are, at this point, quite a few teams w/some skills and records.  I saw one projection that had the Bronco's (who are 6-0 right now) taking the first Wild Card spot, and there is a certain logic to it looking at the remaining schedule of the Chiefs and Bronco's - the Chiefs have to be a bit favored to take the AFC West.  The Bronco's may finish 12-4 and be a wild card.  The seeding looked like this (based on current standings and projections):

1.  Chiefs (AFC W)

2.  Patriots (AFC E)

3.  Bengals (AFC N)

4.  Colts (AFC S)

5.  Broncos (AFC W/Wild Card)

6.  Dolphins (AFC E/Wild Card)


You've still got, based on current standings, the Ravens, the Chargers, the Titans, the Browns to contend with before you get to the Raiders.  It is crazy stuff and there is some open-ness there; but there is a lot of competition for those two open spots.  The Raiders are in convention; but I'd be less surprised to see one of those other teams slide in there before them.

Reedster
Reedster

@treddd How you ask? because he does not play for the Homer of a slob Peter's beloved Patriots. The only other team, in the NFL, that Peter is slightly aware of, on any given week, is whoever the Patriots are playing that week.

mtoews
mtoews

@Bostonctychamps1 im a saints fan who because of family commitments did not get to watch the game yet.  Now what i DO know.. is 3 people sent me messages saying "what did you do to p**s off the refs", " Lucky you are not watching you would be p**sed off at the calls the refs are making", and " Holy S**t Brady must have bought off the refs".

Now.. me being a saints fan who did not see the game I think your little blinders may have been on when a Detroit fan, A Miami fan, and Atlanta fan.. all were saying how one sided the calls were AGAINST the saints.  

Now I did see a couple of plays early and 2 first down spots were , shall we say, VERY generous for the Pats.. So take your homerism and go watch the game as a fan of football and come back and say that you think the refs were on the Saints side.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Bostonctychamps1 Yeah, how unfortunate for you that people that are NOT Saints fans saw the same thing they saw.  I am not a Saints fan.  I just called it as it was.  Did you see the critical jump offsides on the Pats defense that they called false start on the Saints?  Yeah that penalty was irrelevant wasn't it?  Such deep delusions.... they run deep.  

updatenav360
updatenav360

@SportPage @aidanfromworc Well, Manning continuously fails to deliver in clutch moments time after time. Brady is statistically better than Manning in all meaningful measurements other than straight yards and td's. 


-Winning %

-TD - INT ratio

-Post Season Victories

-Super bowl appearances and victories

-Super bowl MVP's

-Ability to win in the elements (Manning has never won a playoff game with the temperature below 50 degrees: 0-4)

-Spreading the ball. 


In the one year Brady did have super star talent at the WR and Slot receiver positions... He Broke Peyton's records. 


I love both those guys. 1a and 1b Qb's of the 21st century.  It's just that Brady beats Manning when you look at the data in all meaningful statistics. 

Dick
Dick

The Reedster here has made a grand total of 16 comments.  Fully half of these are whines about the Patriots.  Sounds like he's really, really bitter.  

Laces out, Reedster, laces out...

rjl8125
rjl8125

@Reedster @utgjohn It sounds like both of you are very familiar with the challenges of man on man loving. 

Jimmyjam
Jimmyjam

@mtoews @Bostonctychamps1 Your friends must be like you, and used to making excuses for their Patriots hate.  Success does breed that. I was the same way with the Boston Celtics of old.

Jimmyjam
Jimmyjam

@mtoews @Bostonctychamps1 It is really amazing how many cant deal with Patriots success.  Always trying to find excuses, cheating, the refs, etc.  Stop whining and watch a good organization school the others.

Jimmyjam
Jimmyjam

@randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1 I also saw that play.  The player from the Pats made a move.  Before he got into the zone, the saints player moved.  His move over took precedence.  Like when you have a defensive and an offensive lane line violation.  The offensive violation is immediately taken.


Dick
Dick

@randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1 

"I just called it as it was."  Let me help you out.  It should be "I just called it as I saw it".  It's called OPINION.  Your OPINION does not make it a FACT. They looked at it on replay and saw it for what it was, stemhead.  They're not blind.  He was out of the neutral zone when the ball was snapped.  

But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of your OPINION.

Bostonctychamps1
Bostonctychamps1

@randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1 I guess the 7 point push off was incidental.  Poor thing, nothing better to do with your life than rant and rave on a keyboard?  Your a legend in your own mind.  Which is a small place to be.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Dick You actually check other people's comments, do a count and come to a conclusion based on what you find?  Interesting.  Obviously you couldn't say the same about me after doing your "fact checking" so you didn't.  Once you checked mine you found I speak on many a topic.  Your defensiveness for your beloved team shows the depth of your insecurity.  The same I have found in many a pat fan as they know the depths of the issues they have had being one.  

Reedster
Reedster

@rjl8125 @Reedster @utgjohn You seem to be an expert on the subject. So, feel free to jump in the middle between Tommy and peter. They might let you be pivot man....

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Jimmyjam @randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1 That isn't how the rule is written or how it is supposed to be enforced.  If a defender makes a sudden movement that causes the offensive lineman to move, the penalty is against the defense regardless of whether they cross the line of scrimmage.  This rule was put into place because for a long time defenders were twitching, jumping forward and making all kind of movements trying to get an offensive lineman to even twitch just a little and get a flag.  The league decided they didn't want the defenders causing the offenses infraction and gaining benefit from it, so they made those actions by the defense against the rules.  It was textbook violation against the Pats and the refs inexplicably called it on the Saints.  Watch for this going forward in games this weekend and the rest of the season.  

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Dick @randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1 You obviously don't know football.  They don't review penalties.  Also, the penalty is not for being int eh neutral zone at the snap it is for jumping into the neutral zone and causing an offensive lineman to move, which is what happened and is a penalty against the defense.  Watch some football and catch up on the rules.  So let me repeat, I called it as it was, it is not based on opinion.  It is a rule. 

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Bostonctychamps1 @randomdeletion I am not a Saints fan.  Just because you want to make assumptions and make unfounded claims that does not make them true. 

The Saints receiver had his hand on the shoulder of the pats defender, but did not push off.  Have you watched the replay?  There is absolutely no momentum change in direction by either the defender or the receiver and that is what needs to take place to indicate there was a push off.  Just simply touching the other player does not constitute a push off.  Of course as a delusional pats fan, such as you are, it is a shameful penalty for any opposing player to touch a pat.  Nevermind that the pats defensive backs were touching the Saints receivers more than 5 yards down field all game long.  

As I said, as a fan of neither team, I saw the calls go the pats way and it was quite obvious.  

Bostonctychamps1
Bostonctychamps1

@randomdeletion @Bostonctychamps1  Of course it did.  Your team lost and you are looking for an excuse.  Take your meds for your schizophrenia.  If you want to see delusional behavior, go look in a mirror.  The calls were not one sided and the Saints benefited, most glaring example was the receiver pushing off for the TD. 

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