- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Patriots’ quarterback play.
Rewind: "Brady Magic" was back. Facing a 27-23 deficit with 1:13 remaining, with no timeouts and the ball at the New England 30-yard line, Tom Brady directed a dramatic game-winning touchdown drive that culminated with a 17-yard scoring strike to rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. It was the 38th time Brady has directed the Patriots to a game-winning drive when facing a fourth-quarter deficit or tie (31 in regular season, seven in playoffs).
Fast-forward: The New York Jets gave Brady and the offense plenty of problems in the Patriots' 13-10 win on Sept. 12. It's a back-to-back challenge against the Ryans -- one week after facing a Rob Ryan-coached defense, now it's a Rex Ryan-coached defense. One of the common threads between the defenses is that they are "game plan" specific, tailoring what they do on a weekly basis based on the opponents' perceived strengths and weaknesses. It's usually a mix of heavy blitz pressure with maximum coverage concepts in a "spin-the-dial" approach.
Crazy Legs Brady: In a rarity, Brady scrambled twice on the team's opening drive as he was forced out of the pocket (5 yards, 11 yards). That produced season-high rushing yards for Brady. No one will confuse Brady for Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III, but it was a good reminder that when things break down, Brady can also make plays with his feet.
Is this the week for Gronkowski? In a storyline that has swirled for the first six weeks of the season, tight end Rob Gronkowski's status will once again be in the spotlight this week. The Patriots are not converting red zone trips (22) into touchdowns (nine) as frequently as they would like, and Gronkowski's presence would help.
Prediction: Brady tops his stat line from Week 2 against the Jets (19-of-39 for 185 yards, TD), building off Sunday's thrilling final-drive comeback. The key is getting the running game going more effectively than that Sept. 12 meeting.