|Ten Things We Learned Last Night: Brady’s condition is chief concern||08.29.09 at 6:19 am ET|
LANDOVER, Md. – If you’ve worn out the DVR function on your cable box by now, you’re probably not alone.
The play looked innocent enough. Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth wraps his arms around Tom Brady and slams him to the ground. Brady’s pass to receiver Greg Lewis falls incomplete. Brady gets up and jogs off the field. It’s now fourth down. The punt team comes on.
But repeatedly watch the sequence in slow motion and its true violence is revealed. Remember, the 6-foot-6 Haynesworth weighs more than a Chevy Aveo (he’s actually listed at 350 pounds). He torpedoed Brady, driving the quarterback’s right – throwing – shoulder into the soggy FedEx Field turf.
“I don’t even remember the play,” running back Fred Taylor said of the hit, which occurred with 2:11 remaining in the second quarter. “I really don’t. Truthfully I don’t. Guys on the sideline told me Haynesworth got into him pretty decently. But I didn’t see it.”
It doesn’t really matter if Taylor was being truthful. But one thing’s certain. Brady’s apparent injury dampened an already dreary, wet evening. Sure, the Patriots prevailed, 27-24 (click for the game’s recap), on Steven Gostkowski’s final-minute, 30-yard field goal, but what of Brady?
The team’s official comment was that he’s suffering from a “sore shoulder.” Amazingly (but not surprisingly) Bill Belichick BFF Chad Ochocinco tweeted this at about midnight, which is likely (I think) a good sign: “Just got a call back from Tom Brady, says he’s fine and there’s nothing to worry about.”
Soon after the hit, he was seen rotating his arm on the bench, presumably testing it for pain. He warmed up briefly on the sideline at the start of the third quarter, but quickly retreated back to the locker room with Thomas Gill, a team doctor. Brady did not address the media after the game.
“I’m sure he has some bumps and bruises like everybody else that played in the game,” Belichick said.
That brings me to the second of 10 lessons learned last night.
When it comes to injury questions, Bill Belichick is Martin Brodeur.
There’s no way in hell he’s letting one trickle through. I’m not condemning the man; in fact it’s quite impressive. His stonewalls are performance art. I’m also not condemning reporters either. Their job is to ask the questions.
These are actual exchanges from the press conference:
Reporter: Was the plan for Tom just to play the (first) half or did you have to deviate from that after he took the hit?
Belichick: Yeah, we wanted to look at Kevin (O’Connell) and Andrew (Walter) in the second half.
Reporter: Any injury situation didn’t change the plan?
Belichick: We wanted to look at Andrew and Kevin in the second half.
Reporter: It looked like he had come out at the start of the second half. Did I see that right on the sideline, and then went back in(side)?
Reporter: Tom Brady.
Belichick: I don’t know.
Reporter: He walked off with the team doctor. What was the assessment when they took a look at him?
Belichick: He didn’t play in the second half.
The players were coy. Why wouldn’t they be?
“I didn’t know it happened,” defensive end Richard Seymour said. “You’re telling me something. So I didn’t know about it. News to me.”
News flash: Haynesworth is a beast.
Haynesworth is a monster. His ability to maul people consistently earned him a $100 million contract from Washington this offseason, $41 million of which is guaranteed.
He nailed Brady, which is what he’s paid the big bucks to do. Here’s what happened. It was third-and-six from the Patriots 28. Haynesworth lined up against left guard Logan Mankins. Brady took a shotgun snap, Haynesworth shooed Mankins away like a fly, then sped around assisting left tackle Matt Light without much resistance, and got to Brady, who got drilled as he released the ball.
Aside from that (gulp) the protection was solid. The one “sack” of Brady, credited to Andre Carter at 7:38 in the second quarter, was totally bogus. On third-and-seven from the New England 29, Brady – unwilling to risk getting crushed – slid for a one-yard loss and was touched by Carter. It wouldn’t have been a sack in tag football.
Brady looked like the Brady of 2007.
For most of the first half, Brady was on fire. He began the game 12-for-16 and finished 12-for-19 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 122.7. Both scores were to Randy Moss, who caught six balls for 90 yards.
Taylor certainly liked what he was seeing.
“I was all smiles. Any time you put six (on the board) it makes it a little bit easier to go practice (the next day),” he said. “Those guys have great chemistry. When they get it in the end zone, that’s what it’s all about.”
On the first touchdown, which came at 6:01 in the first quarter, Moss sprinted up field, burned corner DeAngelo Hall and hauled in a 26-yard score. The next one, which came on the first play of the second quarter, he beat safety LaRon Landry for a 27-yard score.
“(Tom) and Randy connecting,” up-and-coming special teams ace Matthew Slater said, “everybody feeds off of that.”
The secondary looked shaky at times.
Fans better hope the Redskins’ first offensive series of the game isn’t a microcosm of the season. The corners struggled. One play, Leigh Bodden got burned by Santana Moss for a 21-yard completion. On another, Jonathan Wilhite failed to stop Antwaan Randle El from picking up seven yards on a third-and-six slant. Then rookie corner Darius Butler was whistled for a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Malcolm Kelly in the end zone.
What happened on Washington’s next series was an even more egregious offense. Moss, looking like Usain Bolt, sprinted past Bodden. By the time Campbell threw the ball, Moss had to have five steps on Bodden. It was scary. Alas, the pass was overthrown and the diving Moss didn’t haul it in.
Another precarious play: tight end Chris Cooley’s 73-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter. He ran untouched, all the way down the middle of the field and past a futily backpedaling Tedy Bruschi. Cooley snagged the ball on his own 46 with nobody, including safety James Sanders, near him.
The final numbers passing numbers weren’t flattering. Campbell – who went 1-for-7 in his previous preseason outing – went 13-for-22 for 209 yards. Second-year backup Colt Brennan went 6-for-12 for 81 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Wilhite said.
Wilhite’s Neon Deion impression may have made up for the initial ineptitude.
His teammates serenaded Wilhite with “J DUB!” as reporters gathered around his locker.
On third-and-goal from the 3, with the score tied at 17 midway through the third quarter, Wilhite, the second-year corner out of Auburn undercut receiver D.J. Hackett, picked off Brennan’s pass a step in front of the goal line and returned it 99 yards to pay dirt.
“All I know is our D-line had a great rush on the play,” said Wilhite, whose scamper was aided by Seymour’s block of Brennan. “I was just in my zone and I made a play.”
He spent the last 10 or so yards high stepping like Deion Sanders. And after he scored, he danced like Michael Jackson.
“Michael Jackson man,” Wilhite said. “That’s my favorite artist. I said if I made a play I was going to do his spin moves…It’s kind of exciting.”
Matthew Slater might be the new Kelley Washington.
The second-year receiver out of UCLA looked more like an investment banker than special teams gunner after the game, sporting a black three-piece suit and Dolce & Gabanna glasses. Although was flagged for fair catch interference in the first quarter, he redeemed himself by making one of the night’s biggest plays.
With the score tied at 24 late in the fourth, Slater downed punter Chris Hanson’s 49-yard kick on the Redskins’ 2-yard line. Pinned deep, Washington went three-and-out and punted.
“Chris had been giving us some great balls all night (4 kicks, 43.3-yard average), I knew he was going to get it down there,” Slater said. “He set it up perfectly. I just had to go catch it. I was trying to make up for that (interference) play all night.”
All in all, it was a strange night for Slater, who was on a team bus that broke down on the way to FedEx Field.
“It just kind of stopped,” Slater said. “We were going kind of slow. I was sitting next to Kevin O’Connell, he was like ‘Why are we going so slow?’”
It didn’t take long, he said, for another bus to arrive.
Perhaps Patrick Chung should return punts.
The rookie safety didn’t exactly look like Devin Hester or Dante Hall, but he’s improving. It must be pointed out that he did fumble for the second straight week – on his first return attempt of the game – but it was recovered by Butler.
Still, Chung returned four punts for 48 yards (12.0 average) and ripped off a 33-yarder late in the fourth to set up Gostkowski’s game-winning boot (he also made a 43-yarder).
The early fumble didn’t keep Belichick from making a change.
“We were going to let him return the whole game,” he said of Chung. “He catches the ball pretty well in practice. … We were going to go with him the whole game regardless.”
Kevin O’Connell had a nightmare evening.
The presumed backup quarterback went 2-for-9 for 17 yards and two interceptions. You know that shirt Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan used to wear in the ‘90s? The black one that said “zero”? O’Connell should go out and buy one at Newbury Comics. Zero was his quarterback rating. Zero. 0.0. Like Bluto’s GPA.
Third QB Andrew Walter was under center for a series in the fourth quarter but didn’t attempt a pass.
Whose night was as bad as O’Connell’s? Well, tight end Ben Watson didn’t see action – his first all preseason – until the second half. It appears that Chris Baker and Dave Thomas have surpassed the 2004 first-round pick. He wasn’t out there with the first-teamers at all.
The Patriots are committed to bringing the heat.
They had four sacks, two by defensive tackle Stephen Williams and one each by linebacker Gary Guyton and defensive tackle Titus Adams. Stalwarts Jerod Mayo (3 solo tackles), Adalius Thomas (3 solo) and Vince Wilfork (2 solo) all made their presence felt.
“Pass rushing is one of those things where it’s timing,” Seymour said. “It’s obviously getting in game shape. This week was the most we’ve played in the preseason. It’s something we can definitely build on…We definitely have to be ready for that.
“The next two weeks, it doesn’t really matter how good you are, if you don’t have any stamina, if you don’t have any conditioning down the stretch, it really doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get in game shape. None of us are really there right now.”
After all, the Giants (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) are on tap, regardless if Brady will be ready.
“I didn’t see Tom take that hit,” Slater said. “But I’m glad he got up and it’s all good.”
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