Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Tuesday morning following the Patriots’ win over the Bills Monday night. It wasn’t the team’s best effort, as they were held to a season-low 20 points, but overcame injuries once again to pull out the win. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
For the third straight game the Patriots suffered a major injury during a game to their offense. Two weeks ago it was Dion Lewis against the Redskins. Last week it was Julian Edelman against the Giants and Monday night it was Danny Amendola in the third quarter to an apparent knee injury.
Brady discussed how losing key players in the middle of game impacts the play calling.
“Yeah, it gets a little tricky just because you’re putting in guys in a lot of positions they haven’t played or you haven’t practiced or have a lot of confidence in, so it is hard to call things with conviction, especially for the play caller because he’s looking at his sheet, ‘Well, this guy has never done this,'” Brady said. “There is a lot of intricacies to these plays. Especially in our offense, we have a lot of details in them so it’s one thing to practice them all week with the guys that are playing and we did that this week with Danny and Aaron [Dobson]. Those guys got injured.
“Chris Harper, I thought did a good job — went in there and played hard. It’s just one of those things that’s part of football. You have to somehow grind it out and figure out how to win a game and when you lose guys like Julian and Dion, who are very consistent players. Those certainly don’t help your team and then to lose players in the middle of a game like that — we’ve dealt with that the last few weeks of trying to still find ways to make plays and so forth.
“We haven’t really got in a rhythm and just didn’t execute as well as we’re capable of. There will be a lot to learn from. It’s good to win and still learn from mistakes and we’re playing the No. 1 ranked defense this week so it has to be a much better effort.”
Brady had a tough night as he was under pressure all game long. The quarterback finished the game 20-for-39 with 277 yards and one touchdown and one interception.
“I think our execution was a problem for us all night,” Brady said. “That was things that were really self-inflicted that I know we’re capable of doing because we’ve done it all year and for some reason last night we just couldn’t get the communication right and we just weren’t on the same page. They put a lot of pressure on [us] and I think the challenging part about that type of defense is they really test you in a lot of ways. They test your protections. They test you in the run game. They test you with different blitz looks and so forth. That’s kind of the mark of their defense.
“If you don’t really nail it to a ‘T’ then they get a lot of free plays and I think there were a lot of free plays that I basically took the ball and tried to throw it away as fast as I could. For one reason or another our communication between all of us needs to be able to improve so that we can have the confidence to stand in there and make the plays when they are there, make the reads and so forth. We just didn’t do it as well as we’re capable of last night.”
One of the most-talked about plays in the game was the inadvertent whistle play in the third quarter where Amendola made a catch near the Bills sideline and appeared to have room to run, but there was an inadvertent whistle and the play was blown dead where he caught the ball — a 14-yard gain.
The Bills sideline did pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play, but the Patriots couldn’t do anything further on the drive as it ended with Stephen Gostkowski‘s first missed field goal of the year.
Brady acknowledged the referees can make mistakes and noted Gene Steratore’s crew is one of the best in the league.
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure how much he would have gained,” Brady said of the play. “The whistle blew and the guys kind of stopped, so I don’t know. I think the refs make mistakes too so it’s just one of those things. They’re not perfect. We’re not perfect as players. I know they get a lot of criticism and so forth, but that crew is a good crew. We’ve had them a lot and those things happen. We have to figure out a way to overcome it. It was still a very positive play for us. We gained a lot of yards. We just didn’t do much when we got down into their territory. I would have loved for us to take advantage of the penalty they got on the play and move the ball down and score points. It was just one of those plays. They don’t come up very often and for one reason or another someone accidentally blew the whistle and that is part of football.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
On Chris Harper: “Chris did a good job for us last night. Just stepping in and a lot of things he didn’t practice and when you watch the things he was doing you’re really encouraged. It will be good to get a good week of practice with all the guys who go out there and play and then you try and cut it loose and see if what you’re doing is good enough for that particular week and it some point you have to try and get some guys back healthy and playing back in their normal positions. If you can do that and withstand the injuries, you have a deeper team and guys have more experience. We’re just at a place right now where we’ve lost a lot of players, but at the same time, like I said, our expectations don’t change. It doesn’t let you off the hook for things we’re perfectly capable of doing and executing, which we are, and we just didn’t do many of those things well last night. Like I said, when you play a good team like that, certainly a division team, the second time around, it’s always challenging. They are a good defense. They always seem to play us well and it’s a good division win for us.”
On teams paying more attention to Rob Gronkowski with Edelman, Lewis and potentially Amendola out: “I think the best thing for a lot of good receivers is to have another good receiver on the team and also out there running routes because there’s only so many people they can double and so forth. If you have another guy that is making a lot of plays — Danny made some great plays for us last night. He was having a helluva game until he came out in the third quarter. He had over 100 yards receiving and then he goes out so obviously the attention is on Gronk and they are just focused on him so we still have to figure out a way, in the run game or the pass game to move the ball, covert on third down and so forth. We’ll put together the best plan we think we can this week that we think can hold up against a very good defense. It’s just going to require us to execute a lot better. That’s what it comes down to.”
On number of passes thrown away: “You guys know me. I don’t care about passer rating or anything like that. I just want to win and I want to help our team win and I want to make the best decisions I can to help us win. If that is throwing it away 40 times to win, I’ll throw it away 40 times.”
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