Coming off Sunday night’s 30-24 overtime loss to the Broncos in Denver, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Monday morning to discuss the team’s first loss, the controversial officiating and Rob Gronkowski‘s injury. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots squandered a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter and saw the Broncos rally, aided by some key calls that went against the visitors.
“Oh, man. Tough game. Tough game,” Brady said. “This one hurts.”
Brady frequently expressed his frustration with the officials, but it didn’t stop the flags from flying against the Pats.
“It was a very hard loss,” Brady said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so visibly pissed off after a loss. And I think everyone felt the same way. Hopefully we can use it as motivation going forward. Like I said, there’s things that we could have done better. And it’s certainly not to leave it up to a call here or a call there or one player. There’s things across the board that we need to do a better job of and we can do a better job of. And that’s what the focus is going to be this week.”
Added Brady: “I just think the circumstances of the game, the circumstances of the situation that we were in with winning by [14 points], having a good lead there in the fourth quarter, having a couple of third downs called back — huge third downs that we made — called back by penalty, losing a player like Gronk in the fourth quarter, fighting back like we did to get to overtime. Then I thought the first play of the overtime, the guy hooked [Brandon LaFell] and they didn’t call that. And then they got the ball and scored the touchdown.
“How it all played out, I guess I was just pretty pissed off, at obviously the final outcome, just how the last 20 minutes of the game played out.”
Brady tried to avoid blaming the officials for the loss, although he made it clear he felt his team got the short end Sunday.
“Sometimes we’re getting [the calls] and sometimes we don’t,” he said. “We didn’t get any last night. I don’t know why or why not. You think they’re looking at it, and they probably are. Sometimes officials miss it, too. I totally understand that. They’re not — I don’t know. I have no clue.”
One of the key calls was an offensive pass interference against Gronkowski — his second of the game — that negated a pickup in the fourth quarter. It continued a trend of calls against Gronkowski this season.
“They just feel like there’s a push-off,” Brady said. “It’s obviously different than what I thought, because I’m looking at it, too. But they’re the ones with the flags, and they blow [the whistle]. You hate to see it come down to stuff like that. But there were a lot of plays last night that just didn’t necessarily end up the way that we would had hoped, and there was a lot of things we could have done better. I’m certainly not going to sit here and blame the officiating. Some days you get the calls, some days you don’t. We’re going to have to figure out what we need to do better going forward so we don’t get them, and then obviously the things that we can control, which is our play and our execution, do a better job there.”
Brady said he’s not sure how Gronkowski will be able to avoid contact with a defensive player in his path.
“There’s nothing he can do other than the alternative is just to run upfield and make no contact and let them contact you,” Brady said. “Then they can obviously contact you within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but now you’re talking offensively you can’t contact anybody within five yards of the line of scrimmage. I don’t fully understand it. Like I said, I know our coaches have talked to the league quite a bit about it. Like I said, it’s just one of those things when we’re not getting the [call], and certainly Rob’s not, because as you guys can see it doesn’t look like he’s doing a lot of pushing.”
Gronkowski was injured in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to his right knee. He writhed on the ground in pain before being carted to the locker room. However, he later was seen walking with only a slight limp, and Brady said that on the plane ride home Gronkowski “was in decent spirits, so that made me happy.”
“It’s unfortunate to see anybody go down,” Brady said. “He’s such a big part of what we do as an offense. It’s always tough losing great players, and obviously knowing what he’s been through in his career when you see him laying there it’s very tough to see. Hopefully he gets the checks done today. Hopefully he’ll be back at some point. We’ll see. I’m not sure. I’m sure they’ve got to do a lot of things today. But it’s hard to see him go down like that.”
Added Brady: “I think they’ll figure out kind of what’s going on with him today and plan accordingly. Like I said, all our fingers are crossed that it’s nothing serious.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On positives that can be taken from Sunday’s loss: “Every game you play, you learn stuff from. You take whatever lessons you learn from the wins and the losses and you move forward later in the year. One loss isn’t going to destroy our season by any stretch. We’re still in a good position. We’ve got to take the learning and use it as motivation. These are things we could do better. Obviously there’s a lot of guys who are getting a lot of experience out there with other guys being down.
“If Denver is one of the top teams in the AFC, obviously we know we can hang with everybody. Because we went into overtime in a tough environment with just a lot of things that didn’t necessarily bounce our way. We still can gain confidence from that. We’re still in a good position. Our season is going to be what we make of it. Everything that’s happened over the last 11 weeks puts you in that position. This is when football season starts.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game, especially when we had some pretty great opportunities throughout to close them out. We just, for a myriad of reasons, couldn’t quite make the critical ones when we needed. When we did, it called back or something like that. Hopefully we can do better going forward.”
On replacing Gronkowski: “Scott [Chandler] did a great job last night when he was kind of forced into that particular role that Gronk’s been in. He’s been doing really well for us over the course of the year. He’s acclimated really well. He’s obviously going to be relied on heavily if Gronk’s out. Mike Williams, who didn’t play last night, he’s going to be counted on. And hopefully we get Danny [Amendola] back soon. There’s still a lot of football left.”
On seemingly always finding ways to replace key players: “I don’t know that the ‘next man up’ thing — you’ve got to have really great players out there. The guys that are out there I certainly have trust in, they just have not had a lot of experience. You’ve got to try to develop confidence with the guys that you have out there, and the guys that aren’t out there that have played a significant role on our team, hopefully we’ll get them back at some point and we’ll be that much stronger for it.”
On if the team will adjust its offense based on the new personnel: “There’s definitely things that yes, we’ll do differently, just because you’re playing with players that haven’t had the opportunity to run all the things that we normally run. There’ll be enough offense in the game to be able to adjust some things that we’re doing, some different things. We’ll have plenty of offense in there to be able to run and execute and get the job done. We’re just got to figure out kind of where we’re at with the guys that are going to be playing and then try to go play to our strengths, which hopefully we’ll figure that [out] over the next couple of days.”
On the confusion on the final drive of regulation when a Broncos player was hurt: “Yeah, there was [confusion]. I don’t think I still quite fully understand that. Because their guy went down, they had no timeouts. And I don’t know what the rule is. … I thought when he went down there was a penalty on that team for having a delay of game. But I’ll have to look at that this week. I don’t know, there’s so many frigging rules. There’s so many rules now. We’ll try to clarify it this week. But you’re right, I was not aware that the clock would be running.”
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