Tom Brady jumps into the arms of his center Ryan Wendell after throwing the game-winning TD to Danny Amendola. (AP)
FOXBORO — Midway through the second quarter, Tom Brady had a quarterback rating of 31.7. He had completed just 7-of-19 passes for 95 yards and threw an interception to D’Qwell Jackson.
He finished 32-of-52 for 418 yards, including 153 to Shane Vereen. Brady finished with two touchdown passes and a 91.7 rating. Oh yeah, he led the Patriots to their third miraculous win at Gillette Stadium this season, this time 27-26 over the Browns.
“That was awesome. That was awesome,” Brady said after finding Danny Amendola for the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. “What a game. I’m just proud of the guys. We fought through a lot of adversity. A lot of mental toughness. We grinded it out, so it was pretty sweet.”
Brady went from one of his worst performances of the season to one of his most clutch over the course of 30 minutes. Just like he did against New Orleans. Just like he did against Denver.
Brady was asked if he’s worried about just cutting it too close, like spotting Cleveland leads of 19-3 late in the third quarter and 26-14 with 90 seconds left.
“We’re not trying to give them those leads and certainly our execution wasn’t great, but we came through when we needed to. We’ve been playing 60 minutes all year,” Brady said. “We’re 10-3. It was a great win.”
As for the nasty injury to Rob Gronkowski, Brady, like the rest of the team, can only hope for the best but fear the worst.
“I don’t know what the circumstances are, but we’re all there with him,” Brady said. “We love him and he’s a big part of this team. We’ll see where he’s at.”
Does that temper the excitement about the win at all?
“Yeah, it hurts to see any of those guys go down,” Brady said. “Certainly with Gronk, and we’ve sustained some pretty big injuries this year with really important, critical players, so we’ve got to just keep bouncing back. No one feels sorry for the Patriots. I think we all feel sorry for Rob, but I don’t think anyone feels sorry for the Patriots. We’re with him. We support him.”
Here is the rest of Tom Brady’s post-game presser at Gillette:
Q: The league is trying to prevent high hits to protect players, but I know it’s hard for players to target below the waist. As a player that’s been in the league for a while, is there anything else you think you could do on that?
TB: You know, I’ve seen it all at this point. They make the rules and you try to play within them. You can’t hit in the head, so you’ve got to… Those guys, they’re lowering their target area. It’s unfortunate to see anyone get hurt. It’s a physical game and you hate to see guys get hurt.
Q: What’s going through your head on the onside kid recovery?
TB: It was unbelievable. It was a great – I came over to the sideline after we scored and Josh [McDaniels] said, ‘We’re going for the middle bunt.’ So I kind of stood up to get a good look and he kicked a perfect ball. That was awesome. You know, we work on that all the time and if it comes up once a year, great. If it works, I mean, it’s incredible. We got the PI [pass interference] and then scored on the next play and that was incredible.
Q: Yeah, you still have to drive the ball down the field and score.
TB: Yeah, we did. We had a short field because they called the unnecessary roughness, so we were on the 40 and hit a play to Danny [Amendola] and then got the PI on Josh [Boyer] where he beat the corner, and then threw it in on the next play, so that was pretty awesome.
Q: It seems like we talk about mental toughness with you guys every week. Do you ever even surprise yourself with your ability to continue to come back in these adverse situations?
TB: Sure. And it didn’t look good there at that point and they scored and it didn’t look good. But we’re just going to keep fighting. Sometimes you may come up short, but it’s not going to be lack of effort or toughness. We showed that we have some of that.