After surrendering a fourth-quarter lead for the second time this season in a Week 6 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says his team needs to improve upon situational football and executing down the stretch.
"It's a lot of situational football and understanding what you need to do as an offense, and then executing," Brady said of what it takes to close out a game, on his weekly appearance on the "Dennis & Callahan" show on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "I don’t think there's any magic formula to making good decisions and good plays, it's a matter of just doing it. It's not that we can't do it, because we're up for most of that game, we just didn’t do it situationally there in the fourth quarter.
"It's something that we're going to keep working at," he continued. "We're not going to stop working, we're going to work hard at it and see if we can get better at it and make those improvements so if we're in a situation like this again, it doesn't come up. It's not like you go to bed and you go 'next time, sure, I wish we could pull out the win' and close your eyes and go to sleep and magically it happens. You've got to put work into it, and you've got to understand why these things come up. And everyone individually has to do a better job at their jobs so we come out on the winning end of these games."
On Sunday, the Patriots had an opportunity to milk the clock late in the fourth quarter, holding onto to a six-point lead. They were unable to earn a first down after consecutive running plays yielded minimal results. After two straight weeks of big games on the ground, Seattle neutralized the Patriots' rushing attack, holding it to just 86 yards, and New England turned to the passing game throughout much of the afternoon.
Brady said the reliance upon throwing the football (he set a career-high in attempts with 58) was a result of the scheme of the Seahawks.
"I think schematically they're very good against the run, what they choose to do," he said. "They have a lot of heavy fronts, run fronts, and they force you to throw it, and we threw the ball whatever it was, 56 times, 58 times, and we had a lot of production at times, and other times we didn't. For the most part, we were doing the right thing in the passing game. I wish I would have completed more passes, but the guys were running good routes and getting open, and we had a lot of chunk plays, and we moved the ball up and down the field. The problem was we didn't score points. And when you're one of six in the red area, you leave so many points on the board that you lose by one, you're one of six in the red area, you're not giving yourself much of a chance to win."
In the third quarter, Brady was on the receiving end of a blow to the head from Seahawks defensive lineman Jason Jones. Some have suggested the hit affected Brady's play for the balance of the game, but he dispelled that notion, citing a lack of execution rather than ill effects of the hit.
"No I don't think so at all. It was just poor execution by myself, and poor fundamentals, and that's the cause of it," Brady said. “And certainly I give Seattle a lot of credit on defense, and I credit them for the way that they played, they're a very good defense. They came into the game first in pretty much every category. They rush the passer, they stop the run, they're good on third down, they're good in the red area, they've got a lot of playmakers, and they made it hard on us. There were really no easy plays out there, we had to earn them."
Beyond Brady and the offense's lack of execution, the Patriots' defense also surrendered big plays down the stretch, highlighted by a game-winning 46-yard pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to receiver Sidney Rice.
The secondary is now allowing 289 passing yards per game, which ranks near the bottom of the league. Despite the poor performance, Brady says there is a never a situation where one faction of the team looks at another with resentment.
"Never. I don't think that's what a team is all about," Brady added. "I think you as a team support each other and feed off of one another, and all three phases are important. One week the offense may perform well, one week the defense may perform well, one week the special teams may perform well. If everyone performs well together, you're going to win. There's no doubt about it.
"If the offense doesn't play well, the defense needs to play really well or the special teams need to play well. We played a team like Seattle where special teams-wise, they have one of the best special teams units in the league and we played really well against them. Offensively, we have a chance to play really well but we're one of six in the red area.
"The defense never complains about us performing, and certainly we support those guys in everything that they're doing," Brady continued . "We rely on each other, and if we're going to make something special, it's got to be all 53 guys and coaches supporting each other, and depending on each other, and that's what we plan to do. We’re not throwing in the towel. I know 3-3 sucks, we all feel frustrated and disappointed with where we are at, but we got out entire season ahead of us. There's no better team to really start here against than the Jets at 3-3."
The Patriots will host the Jets for their first of two matchups this Sunday, and despite the fact that one notable Jets defender -- cornerback Darrelle Revis -- will not be present, Brady says it will be another stiff test.
"He's a phenomenal player. He's as good a corner as there is in the league, and as good a corner as I've faced," Brady said of Revis. "But their team has always been built around their defense, and not really one player. He's a great player, I certainly don’t want to discount them, but they've got some other really good players too.
“Antonio Cromartie is a great player, and they've got some guys on the d-line that can rush, a solid group of linebackers, a very good secondary with Yeremiah Bell and Laron Landry. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. It feels like we're playing good defenses every week, and the Jets are no different. We've got to spend a week to get ready for them, and hopefully go out and win a very important game for us."