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Tom Brady on D&C: Danny Amendola ‘just awesome’ in second half vs. Bills

09.09.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly Patriots Monday appearance with Dennis & Callahan to talk about Sunday’s 23-21 victory over the Bills, as New England overcame some sloppiness to pull out a win with a late scoring drive.

Brady completed 29-of-52 yards for 288 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots won their 10th straight opener. He went 6-for-6 for 34 yards on a 49-yard drive that ended with Stephen Gostkowski‘s game-winning, 35-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.

The Patriots were mistake-prone Sunday, including a fumble by running back Stevan Ridley that was returned 74 yards for a Buffalo touchdown.

“Football is not necessarily a game of perfection, but I think the big [mistakes], like the turnovers — I thought we did a decent job with the penalties, but the turnovers were the one thing that really held us back from scoring more points, and really allowed them to score their points,” Brady said. “It was a big part of the game. If you take away the turnovers, it’s a different outcome. But that’s pretty much every football game. A lot of the games around the league yesterday, a lot of them hinged on turnovers. Ours was one that we turn it over, we didn’t play great and we really allowed them an opportunity to stay in the game and obviously be ahead in the fourth quarter. We needed to make a lot of good plays there at the end to overcome them.”

Ridley was benched after his fumble, a move that came as no surprise considering Bill Belichick‘s history regarding such mistakes.

“He doesn’t like turnovers, and he lets us know,” Brady said of his coach. “He stresses it every single day, the things we have to do to protect the football and protect the lead. Being smart, being physical, eliminating turnovers is all so important to winning games. We just didn’t do a great job of that.”

Wide receiver Danny Amendola left the game late in the first half after aggravating a groin injury, but he returned to have a huge second half, finishing with 10 catches for 104 yards.

“He was battling all week to get out there, and he fought really hard to do it,” Brady said. “He got out there and it bothered him enough in the first half where he went out. But he really fought hard, showed a lot of mental and physical toughness to get out there to play in the second half. And what a great second half he played. It was just awesome.”

Added Brady: “That’s what Danny’s done since he’s gotten here. He’s been able to find different open spots in zones and catch it, catch the ball in traffic, make diving catches. He’s done such a great job of that. That’s a really positive thing that Danny brings to our offense. The more often that he can do that, the better it’s going to be for us. We’ll see how it goes over the course of the year.”

Wes Welker, who departed for Denver as a free agent in the offseason, was known for his durability. With Amendola already struggling to stay healthy, combined with injuries to other members of the receiving corps, it’s a painful reminder of what the Patriots are missing.

“There’s no question how tough Wes was to line up every week,” Brady said. “It takes a lot of mental and physical toughness to do that, a lot of preparation over the course of the offseason. That’s the reason why you have that kind of production. You can’t produce whatever, 100-plus catches in eight games. You need to play 16 weeks to have the kind of production that Wes has, or some of these other players who rush for a lot of yards. That’s the idea, is to be out there every week so you have a chance to help the team and produce.

“So, it is, that was part of a great strength of Wes, his ability to be out there on the field to help us win. But that’s what we’re hoping everybody can do. We’re hoping when [Rob Gronkowski] gets back, that’s the way Gronk’s going to be, that’s the way that [Aaron] Dobson and [Josh] Boyce [will be]. That the only way to improve, is when you get out there and actually go through things and do them and you do them really well.”

Another new receiver, rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, had mixed results in his debut, making four catches for 42 yards despite being targeted 14 times. There also were some questions about his route-running.

“There’s things that we all can do better,” Brady said. “It’s not just one player. It’s not just K.T. It’s all of us that have to work harder to communicate, to be on the same page. When you’re in the first week of the year, there’s a lot of things that we can do better. There’s a lot of things that aren’t right yet. Not that you’re going to expect everything to be perfect. There’s my first time really playing a meaningful game with a lot of these guys. These are things you learn under fire and you’ve got to end up going through them and learning from them, and hopefully you can be better every single week out there.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On the Patriots’ next game, Thursday against the Jets in Foxboro: “It’s a quick turnaround, there’s no doubt about that. And it’s mental just as much physical. There’s natural body soreness from the first game of the year. We ran 95 plays yesterday; most teams run 65-70. We ran a lot of plays. A lot of guys here are going to have to work hard to get the right kind of rehab this week, the right kind of treatment so that you’re body physically is prepared, and spend as much time mentally to get ready for the Jets, which are a very difficult scheme. We’ve got our hands full. We’re going to try to put everything we can into it. Then after that we have 10 days to prepare for the next team.

“There’s give and take. If you can win the game, then it’s a big positive for the team. So, hopefully we can draw from our experience in this last game. No matter what situation we’re in, we’ve got to make the plays at critical moments to win the game. That’s what we have to do, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

On his fumble on fourth-and-goal from the Buffalo 1 in the third quarter: “It’s one that you never expect to happen. Those ones are ones we can totally eliminate and should never really come up. That should never happen.”

On if he’ll be able to show patience with his new receivers: “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win. I’m going to try to always find the open guy and find the open matchup. That’s ultimately what I’m going to try to do. Whoever it ends up being, it ends up being. I have a lot of confidence in the guys that were out there yesterday. It’s just, we’ve got to do a better job executing.”

On if the Patriots rookies might have been intimidated Sunday: “It’s hard really to simulate game action, it’s hard to simulate the adjustments that are made, the speed of the game. Yesterday, for both teams, for us and the Bills, neither team really knew how we were going to play the game. You don’t know how you’re going to attack each other. You don’t know the strategy of the game. As the season goes along, you have better ideas of how those things are going to play out.

“It’s hard to look in Week 1 to go out there and play the best game you’re going to play all season. Yeah, that’s possible. But we have a lot of football left. We have a lot of things to learn from, a lot of things to grow from. The strength of our team will be defined over the next couple of months. We really don’t know those things right now. We’re going to try to get there as fast as we can. But usually it takes a while for those things to play out.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Stevan Ridley
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