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Sunday, December 12, 2010
Brady strengthens MVP candidacy

By Mike Reiss

CHICAGO -- Quarterback Tom Brady extended his franchise-record streak of games without an interception to eight, as well as his franchise-record streak of passes without a pick to 268, in Sunday's blowout win.

With three games remaining, he looks like the clear favorite to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. His performance in the snow and heavy wind -- 27 of 40 for 369 yards and 2 touchdowns -- deflated the Bears and dazzled his teammates.

"I have no idea how he does what he does," left tackle Matt Light said.

Brady also had two passes tipped that could have been picked off, but the footballs bounced the Patriots' way. Overall, the combination of Brady and snow is a good one, as he improves to 9-0 in his career in snow games.

"They don't cancel football games very often. It's not like baseball [and] we don't play out there in San Diego all of the time," Brady said. "You're out in the cold weather, you're out in whatever the elements are. You've got to be mentally tough enough to play in them. ... We've been pretty good in the snow over the years. I think [it's] because we practice in it quite a bit."

Given the wind, the long ball wasn't a huge part of the Patriots' plan, although Brady still connected with receiver Deion Branch for a 59-yard touchdown pass on the final offensive play of the second quarter. Coach Bill Belichick described it as "two great players making a great play." After the hookup down the left sideline, Bears defenders were throwing their hands in the air in frustration.

Meanwhile, the Patriots were celebrating in the snow -- a familiar sight for those who have watched the team over the last decade.

"It's one of those days that people would rather be cozied up near the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate, but we work on Sundays," Brady said. "All of us are pretty committed to coming out here and trying to play well and trying to execute well in some pretty tough conditions. For the most part, we did that."

Still, Brady said he believes the offense can get better. He pointed to the red zone as one area that didn't produce the results he wanted against the Bears.

"There's a long way to go," he said. "I don't think anything has been accomplished yet. I don't think we have every problem solved. We don't sit here and think we have it all figured out. We're still trying to make improvements."