|Tom Brady stands up and takes some blame for taking big hits||08.25.12 at 12:18 pm ET|
It would have been understandable – if not easy – for Tom Brady to stand up at the podium on Friday night in Tampa and blame his battered and bruised body on the ever-changing offensive line. The Patriots featured three different centers on Friday night, meaning there were three different people calling line protections, starting with Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen and Ryan Wendell.
There was the return of Logan Mankins, who played only in the first quarter, still impressive six months removed from ACL reconstruction on his right knee. So, in short, with Sebastian Vollmer and Brian Waters still not in the picture, the line in front of the quarterback is hardly a point of stability.
But Brady, being the captain and leader he is, turned the focus on himself.
On New England’s first possession, Michael Bennett blew past right tackle Marcus Cannon and fullback Spencer Larsen to strip-sacked Brady on a pulverizing hit. Three other times in the quarter he was hit hard. There was a jail-break up the middle as Brady was sacked once and took two vicious hits.
Then on New England’s second possession, he saw Rob Gronkowski but not the triple coverage around him. He forced a pass that was deflected by Ronde Barber and picked by Mark Barron for a touchdown.
“It was just hold[ing] on to the ball too long,” said Brady, who finished 13-of-20 for 127 yards, with one touchdown to Gronkowski in the third quarter. “Brandon [Brandon Lloyd] was starting to work away from the coverage and they just got me as I was throwing the ball. Have to try to eliminate those and try to eliminate turnovers, they certainly kill us. Those just aren’t very good plays.”
As for taking a beating at 35 years of age, Brady says it comes with the territory.
“It’s a physical sport and your body calluses up over the course of the preseason, and that’s why you train all offseason,” Brady said after hitting the ground six times in the first quarter and getting strip-sacked for the second time in as many games. “It’s a physical sport. You get hit and you have to wake up and get back at it the next day.”
Pretty tough for head coach Bill Belichick to watch, let alone stomach.
“We didn’t do anything offensively except lose yardage and turn the ball over, so yeah, it was tough to watch any of what we did offensively,” Belichick said. “There wasn’t anything. We throw them the ball. Can’t make any yards in the running game. Third-and-long all day. I was surprised that we couldn’t do anything.”
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