Key Moment: Brady comes through in the clutch once again
|10.16.11 at 9:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The key moment in Sunday’s 20-16 win for the Patriots came in the fourth quarter, with New England trailing Dallas, 16-13. The Patriots got the ball on their own 20-yard line with 2:31 remaining, and quarterback Tom Brady hit tight end Aaron Hernandez on a 16-yard pass on the right side to open the drive. That connection was followed by passes to Rob Gronkowski (11 yards) and Wes Welker (five yards) that took the Patriots’ to the two-minute warning and their own 47-yard line.
A 10-yard pass to Welker and a nine-yarder to Woodhead got New England to the Dallas 29. The Patriots stalled briefly, but ended up collecting themselves as Brady steered them to the Dallas 14 with 35 seconds remaining. Brady then connected with Hernandez over the middle on an eight-yard pattern over the middle that got the Patriots into the end zone with 27 seconds remaining. It was a 10-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 2:09, and was the clinching element as New England captured its fifth win in six games to open the 2011 season.
‘It was great protection. Great catch by Aaron,’ Brady said of the final sequence. ‘A lot of guys made big plays on that drive; we really needed it. We really kind of squandered away some opportunities throughout the game but came up big when we needed it. The defense was really incredible today. That’s a good offense with a lot of damn good football players. They really buckled down when they needed to and offensively we put together a drive when we needed to.’
It marked the 32nd time in Brady’s career that he led the Patriots to a victory following a fourth-quarter deficit or tie. In addition, with the victory, Brady and Bill Belichick have tied Dan Marino and Don Shula for the most wins by a quarterback-head coach combination in NFL history at 116.
‘He’s in Canton, there’s no doubt. He’s done what he’s done for a reason. The guy is clutch in the end. That’s what makes him special. That’s what separates him from a lot of quarterbacks in this league,’ said Dallas linebacker Keith Brooking of Brady. ‘I felt like we were going to make a play. I really did, up until that touchdown to Hernandez.’