Tom Brady: Pats find out what happens when you don’t play ‘four-quarter football’
|09.25.11 at 6:11 pm ET|
What should’ve been a celebration of the greatest receiving games in team history and a coronation of Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen in the first three games of an NFL season turned into a nightmare on the slippery slope of the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf Sunday afternoon.
Brady completed his first seven passes and built a 21-point lead in the second quarter on three touchdown passes. He had 222 yards passing in the first half alone. He finished with 387 but at the expense of four interceptions, matching a career-high as the Patriots fell, 34-31 to the Bills.
Brady started off brilliantly, throwing three touchdowns and building a 21-0 lead. His 1,327 yards passing is a new NFL record for the first three games of a season. But Brady, who threw four interceptions in all of his MVP 2010 season, lost his touch late in the second quater and never really regained it.
“We played good football team and made too many mistakes,” Brady said. “It’s tough to overcome as many mistakes as we did, and they made a lot of plays. They have a good team.”
As for the interceptions, Brady tipped his cap to the secondary he was burning in the first half.
“They’re a good coverage team,” he said. “They made some good plays in the pass game, took advantage of some opportunities they got and we fought to the end but it just wasn’t enough.
“They made some good plays on the ball. You don’t expect … some days the ball gets batted up in the air and it goes your way and some days it doesn’t. That’s part of the game. George Wilson made a helluva play on that one interception. That’s the way the ball bounces. That’s football.”
The Wilson interception came as it looked like for all the world the Patriots were going in to make it 31-17. But Wilson finally read the Rob Gronkowski seam route Brady had been using to torch the Bills in the first half.
The Patriots led 21-0 against a team that trailed 21-3 at home last week to the Raiders before winning, 38-35. This week, Brady threw three second-half interceptions to give the Bills life.
“It’s never easy,” Brady said. “They came back last week. I thought we were expecting a four-quarter game. We had our opportunities. We didn’t really take advantage of them like I wish we would’ve. We had too many turnovers, too many penalties, allowed them to get some easy plays there. They took advantage when they needed to.”
Of course, there was Wes Welker. 16 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
“Wes is always a big factor in the game,” Brady said. “I know he had a bunch of catches. He’s a great player for us. All of those guys, we threw the ball quite a bit. I just wish we had made just a few less mistakes.”
Welker made his two biggest catches after one of the biggest blunders of the game, Chad Ochocinco’s drop of a sure fourth-quarter TD pass from Brady. Welker converted a third-down with a leaping grab to keep the drive alive and then a TD grab on fourth-and-goal at the Bills 6.
But the Patriots lost to a Bills team that hadn’t beaten New England since the “Lawyer Milloy” game of Sept. 7, 2003.
“It’s a four-quarter game,” Brady said. “You play for 60 minutes. Things change fast. Before halftime, we’re going in for a score and they get a interception. It’s one loss. It’s a long season. We’ll go back to work and see if we can play better next week.
“It’s a long football season. We’re not going anywhere. We’ll be back. We’ll be fighting next week. Hopefully, we learn from it and move on, make a few less mistakes next week and go win in Oakland. Too many penalties, too many scoring opportunities missed, that’s why we lost the game,” Brady said.